SEBRING - Sebring's Ladante Harris made Friday night's game against Lake Region one to remember, as the junior speedster scored four touchdowns and racked up 328 total yards of offense to lead the Blue Streaks to a 44-14 thrashing of the Thunder.
The Class 6A-District 11 win at Firemen's Field improved Sebring to 4-1 overall and 1-0 in district play.
"We did a lot of things well in all phases of the game and that's what you want to see," said Sebring coach LaVaar Scott. "The kids came out and played hard, we were coming off a bye and it looked like it. "Ladante is special, he had a great night and is only going to get better.
"It's a good district win and puts us at the top of the standings and now we have to do our best to stay there."
Sebring couldn't move the ball on its first possession, but the Blue Streaks struck quickly on their next possession as Harris broke loose for a 71-yard touchdown run down the right sideline. The extra point was no good and Sebring led 6-0 with 6:09 remaining in the opening quarter.
The Lake Region offense had little success running the ball against a physical and fast Sebring defense and was forced to punt.
The Blue Streaks poured through and blocked the punt and Jarvis Bridges scooped the ball up and rambled 40 yards for a touchdown. The 2-point run was stopped and Sebring led 12-0 with 3:38 left in the first period.
"We were on top of Lake Region on defense," Scott said. "That's a credit to our players and our coaches for getting them prepared and we were focused on stopping their running game."
Lake Region's next possession ended when Sebring's Oderick Gall and Mitho Michelin combined on a tackle to force a fumble which the Blue Streaks recovered on the Thunder 38-yard line.
Sebring scored in eight plays as Giovanni Jenkins raced into the end zone on a 1-yard sweep for an 18-0 lead with 8:44 remaining in the second quarter.
The Thunder were forced to punt again and Harris broke several tackles on his way to a spectacular 64-yard touchdown run down the right sideline.
The extra point by Hunter Livingston was good for a 25-0 lead midway through the second period.
Lake Region, which dropped to 3-3, 0-1, went nowhere and was forced to punt.
Sebring took over at its 46 and Harris struck again, this time on a 54-yard scoring run. The extra point was blocked, but the Blue Streaks took an impressive 31-0 lead into the half.
"We played hard and executed well in the first half," Scott said. "We have some special athletes and they are proving it on the field."
Sebring made sure there was no comeback by Lake Region, as the Blue Streaks lit up the scoreboard early in the third quarter.
Trying to stay away from the dangerous Harris, a bad punt gave Sebring possession at the Thunder 19.
The Blue Streaks capitalized on the excellent field position as quarterback Jair Watson connected with Harris on a 19-yard scoring pass in the back of the end zone. The 2-point run was stopped, but Sebring held a commanding 37-0 lead over the stunned Thunder with 6:38 left in the third period.
"Our offensive and defensive lines played well," said Scott. "We knew Lake Region was a disciplined team and wasn't going to make many mistakes, but we forced them into some.
"We got a little sloppy in the second half and gave up a couple of big plays, but overall we played well."
Lake Region ended the Sebring shutout bid as Jordan Williams scored on an 8-yard run midway through the third quarter.
The Thunder got on the scoreboard again late in final period, and Sebring quarterback Connor Cook capped the scoring with a 1-yard sneak late in the contest.
Sebring is at Tenoroc on Friday for a nondistrict game. The Blue Streaks are at Winter Haven on Oct. 18 for a key district game.
"Tenoroc isn't a district game, but it's a game and we have to go out and get better," Scott said. "We have to continue to work on us and try and stay healthy for the Winter Haven game." firstname.lastname@example.org