PEARCY, Ar. — Lakeside had waited more than two decades to celebrate a win over rival Lake Hamilton. So it was no surprise Friday when the Rams’ players, coaches and fans voiced a wild end to their frustration after Lakeside’s 49-42 win.
“Now it’s a rivalry,” said an elated first-year head coach Garren Rockwell, who had experienced five years years disappointment as an assistant coach since the rivalry had been renewed.
Despite the Wolves’ loss of 18 starters to graduation, Rockwell still considered his team the underdog going into his first game as “The Man.” Few probably would agree after seeing the Rams take a 35-6 lead in the third quarter.
“I’ve wanted to be a head coach since I was a ninth grader at Liberty-Eylau (Texarkana),” said Rockwell. “I didn’t want to leave when the job came open at Lakeside. I have 24 seniors, and I called each of them and their parents when I got the job. We also had a strong junior high coming up.”
Frustration only motivated Rockwell
Rockwell has been a winner since Liberty-Eylau won a state championship in 1999 under the guidance of the late David Ream. Rockwell was a fierce 240-pound linebacker who led his Leopards to that title at the Astrodome in Houston.
“It doesn’t matter that the score wasn’t by a bigger margin tonight,” added Rockwell. We got the ‘W’ and that’s all that matters. Lake Hamilton is a good team. Coach (Tommy) Gilleran does a great job with the Wing-T, which we only see once a year. We will continue to take games one week at a time. We’re not thinking about championships. Coach Ream always told me that. He said think about the work you’ve got to do. We’ll celebrate tonight, and the work for Russellville begins tomorrow.”
Friday’s game started like an evenly matched contest. Senior Skylar Purifoy caught the first of senior Jacob Hermosillo’s four touchdown passes with 7:34 left in the first quarter. The Wolves answered on a 6-yard scoring run by junior Hayden Barton, who finished with five TDs and 214 yards rushing. He also caught three passes for 75 yards.
Hermosillo shines for Lakeside
Barton’s performance was not enough. The Rams’ Hermosillo also scored on a 70-yard run, finishing with 169 yards on the ground. He completed 18-of-23 passes for 290 yards. The Wolves finished with 524 total yards, compared to Lakeside’s 531.
“We’re young and didn’t play well,” said a disappointed Gilleran. “There were way too many penalties in the game.”
Lake Hamilton did make a spirited rally in the final 18 minutes, outscoring the Rams, 35-14. Senior quarterback Easton Hurley enjoyed most of his success, passing for 202 yards and two touchdowns to Barton and junior Heath Hall.
The Wolves journey to Jonesboro next Friday.