WALES — Strong running on offense and stout run defense earned Poland a 22-0 shutout victory in a Class D football contest Saturday afternoon.

The Knights ran for 219 yards, while holding the Raiders to 84 yards on the ground.

Poland coach Gus LeBlanc said was particularly pleased with the defense’s performance.

“We bend but don’t break,” LeBlanc said. “We try to play with four-deep a lot, so we’re a seven-man front a lot of the time. He’s putting six people in front of the running back, so even though sometimes they got some big plays, we also stopped them for a number of losses. Overall, I am pretty pleased and it’s a good effort from the kids on a very hot day.”

Poland’s offense, meanwhile, got off to a quick start, scoring on the first drive of the game. After the Knights gained 39 yards on the ground, setting the tone for the rest of the game, quarterback Lagan O’Driscoll threw a 31-yard touchdown pass over the top of the defense to Andrew Lemont for a 6-0 lead.

Poland added to its lead in the second quarter. After the defense forced a turnover on downs, the Knights ran the ball seven times on their way to the end zone. Four players carried the ball, and Brady Martin finished the drive with a 7-yard touchdown run.


Shane Yorkey ran in the 2-point conversion to push Poland’s lead to 14-0.

On the ensuing kickoff, O’Driscoll sped down the left side of the field and pounced on the ball before the Oak Hill players got to it, give the Knights possession at the Raiders’ 28-yard line. 

Shane Yorkey, right, of Poland Regional High School celebrates with quarterback Lagan O’Driscoll after O’Driscoll’s two-point conversion run put the Knights up 22-0 over Oak Hill High School on Saturday in Wales. Daryn Slover/Sun Journal

“He did a really good job for us,” LeBlanc added of O’Driscoll. “He’s a really high-strung kid and he wants to always play hard. In some important moments, Lagan came up big for us. He had a nice pass early on. The team feels more confident when he’s out there. He was really important for us on offense and defense. He’s got more energy than I’ll have the rest of my life.”

Before the kickoff, O’Driscoll was yelling on the sidelines, slapping teammates’ helmets and cheering them on. He maintained that same energy — cheering, yelling and celebrating loudly — throughout the game, both on the field and on the sideline.

“I liked the energy,” O’Driscoll said. “I liked how we kept up the energy the whole game. I think I try to get the team hyped up by screaming at them, pushing them around. I think it gets them pumped up.”

Oak Hill (0-2) stopped Poland on its next drive, and went into halftime trailing 14-0.


The Raiders then opened the second half with back-to-back turnovers on downs. Coach Chad Stowell said he didn’t make the right adjustments at the right time for his young squad.

“They made some adjustments, and a lot of that is on me as the head coach and play caller to make adjustments,” Stowell said. “Maybe I was a step short making those. We are a very inexperienced team and sometimes that makes it difficult to make adjustments. I’ve had teams in the past where I could walk into the huddle and say, ‘Run this,’ and even if it’s a play we’ve never run they’d say, ‘Oh, yeah, I’ve done this before.’ We’re playing guys that have never played varsity football, a lot of them.”

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Poland’s Isaac Ramsdell ran left and scored on a 15-yard run. O’Driscoll ran in the two-point conversion to put the Knights on top 22-0. 

Oak Hill didn’t get much going on offense in the fourth quarter. However, Stowell said he liked the Raiders’ effort and they way they played on defense. 

“Defensively, I thought we played pretty well,” Stowell said. “The heat kind of hurt us and we were kind of gassed, but that’s the nature of the beast. I am sure Gus saw that on his sideline, too. It’s a hard spot because the next man up is sometimes a freshman or an inexperienced sophomore. I’ve got some freshmen I really like, but I don’t need them coming out and getting ear-holed by an 18-year-old and (then) saying, ‘This isn’t for me.’ (In baseball) I can throw a freshman out in left field and he’s not going to get hurt. You put a freshman at linebacker and it’s not the same.”

Poland improves to 1-1 on the season and LeBlanc is excited for the rest of the season. 

“We haven’t had a history of winning for a very long time and so I liked the fact that on a very hot day we hung in there,” LeBlanc said.

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