LAKE PLACID - Lemon Bay's colors may be orange and navy, but the Manta Rays had Lake Placid seeing red Friday night at Roger Scarborough Memorial Field.
Despite a rousing home crowd, the Green Dragons took a pounding from the Manta Rays, losing by a score of 46-7 to conclude the season.
"We played hard," said Lake Placid coach Jason Holden. "I don't know what happened to us mentally last week. If we'd played that way last week it might have been a different outcome. But everyone played hard tonight. I'm proud of them."
Class 5A Lemon Bay (5-4) opened the game with a scoring drive. Quarterback Tyler Nelson powered the Manta Rays down the field and put his team on the board only four minutes into the opening quarter when Dakota Reigle scampered in from seven yards out.
The Manta Rays continued their offensive assault in the second quarter, this time through the air, as Nelson lit up the Class 4A Green Dragons (2-7) secondary for close to 100 yards.
Lemon Bay's air attack was crucial to its success in the second quarter.
The accurate Nelson connected with a handful of different receivers on the drive, often for large gains. And when he didn't find his man downfield with his arm, he made a play with his legs.
Finding themselves down 26-0 after another touchdown pass from Nelson, Lake Placid responded with its only scoring drive of the night.
Paced by running backs Eldon McKenzie and Marquavein Copeland, Lake Placid churned down the field in a hurry.
The burly Copeland capped off the drive with a monstrous 27-yard scramble that saw him leave a field littered with Lemon Bay defenders. The joy was short-lived, however, as Lake Placid allowed another score just before the half to go into the break trailing 33-7.
But in the third quarter, the Dragons defense clamped down, holding Lemon Bay scoreless.
Chase Griffin and Ramon Galaviz-Rinald made two defensive highlights, as Griffin blocked an extra point attempt while Galaviz-Rinald intercepted a wayward Lemon Bay pass.
That tenacity is what impressed Holden.
Even when Lake Placid was down big early, McKenzie and Copeland, along with the rest of their fellow Dragons, never yielded in their intensity; as a unit they refused to give up.
"I don't know what made them flip that switch," Holden said. "I don't know whether it's the last game of the year or what, but they came out and played to a level that we could be proud of them."
In the fourth quarter, Lemon Bay piled on two more scores. Reigle glided in for another touchdown on the ground from five yards out, while the Manta Rays back-up quarterback barreled into the end zone to cap the scoring at 46 points.
But with Lake Placid losing 11 seniors off of this year's team, Holden is hoping that the Dragons never-say-die attitude carries over to next season.
"We're definitely going to have to get to work," Holden said. "We'll need to put some things together and get some other guys coached up."
For departing players like McKenzie, there are hopes of continuing a career in college. No school is out of the question - with some of Mckenzie's teammates listing of litany of well-known Florida programs - but he's got his sights set on one place.
"I'd like to go to Miami," McKenzie said.
Even with McKenzie looking towards the future, Holden's being realistic about it just being November.
"We've got some feelers out there," he said. "But nothing definite. It's a little too early to tell right now."
The Dragons will be back on the gridiron in 2014 when they suit up for the spring game in May.