On Friday, these two teams will battle for the Big School Division championship in LaGrange, IN. Prior to week 7, there was speculation that the division could have a 5-way tie. Lakeland won their last game 14-11 at West Noble, but a 16-7 Fairfield win over Garrett ended any hopes of historic madness.
Last season, Fairfield had a perfect regular season on their way to a 9-1 campaign and a Big School Division championship. Lakeland posted a 2-8 record in their first season under Ryan O’Shea. This year has shown two different directions from where they were a year ago.
Fairfield has struggled to score points after a good senior class graduated averaging 19.9 points a game. But their defense continues to play well allowing just 18.7 points a game (11.5 points against per game since week 4). Fairfield is 3-1 since starting the season 0-3.
Lakeland has also had their fair share of offensive spells averaging only 16 points a game, but only giving up 20 a game. 4 of their first 7 games have been decided by less than 14 points (they’re 2-2 in these games).
Fairfield loves to run their wishbone triple option offense, where the fullback and the quarterback are the center pieces of a run-oriented offense. This team loves to pound the ball and aren’t afraid to pull some trickery when needed led by quarterback Carter Kitson and running backs Jonathan Estep and Micheal Slabaugh. Tight end Braedon Helms is Kitson’s go-to target whenever they throw the ball.
For Lakeland, they have talented running backs of their own with Khamron Malaivann and Caleb Sellers. But Lakeland has thrown the ball quite often this season. Junior quarterback Deion Marshall has a 40% completion but has thrown for 471 yards. Receivers Mark Burlew and Owen Troyer have a combined 364 receiving yards on 26 receptions and 6 touchdowns. They’re good.
On defense, look for Cam Riegling, Hunter Miller, Carlos Espino, Evan Clark, Burlew, and Sellers to lead the way on defense, and don’t rule out Carson Mickem as a utility receiver on offense, a punter, and kicker.
For Fairfield, Cohen Custer, Owen Garrison, Jason Massaro, and Slabaugh lewd the way on the defensive front 7. Estep has 2.5 sacks to lead the defense, and the team already has 4 picks.
Lakeland leads the all-time series 25-16 and haven’t won a conference championship since 2013 (one season before the current 2-division realignment).