Football closes out historic season with 44-0 loss to Taft in city playoffs


Alex Burstein

Lane lines up for an offensive snap late in the fourth quarter.

By Alex Burstein, Editor-in-Chief

Lane Football’s season came full circle, starting at Winnemac Stadium and ending in the same place.

Eleven weeks ago, with clear skies and the sun beating down, Lane kicked off the season showing their dominant rushing game en route to a 35-26 win against Amundsen. But, with overcast and rainy skies on Saturday, the weather fit Lane’s season-ending loss perfectly. 

In the second round of the city playoffs, the Taft Eagles (5-6) put on a show, scoring six touchdowns and pitching a shutout on defense in a 44-0 win over Lane (7-4) at Winnemac. The win was revenge for the Eagles, who lost to Lane 16-6 during the regular season.

This was our best week of practice,” Taft Head Coach Zach Elder said after the win. “And this was the best game we played all year.”

The Eagles took a page out of Lane’s playbook, as Taft was forced to run an almost entirely rushing offense due to the poor weather conditions. Taft senior quarterback Barah Abad attempted six passes, completing two of them, but the Eagles made up for it with a dominating rush attack.

Led by sophomore running back Jaiden Padilla (138 rushing yards on ten carries), the Eagles struck first Saturday afternoon. Just two minutes into the game, Padilla rushed 30-yards to the end zone to put Taft up 7-0. This set the momentum for the rest of the game.

Padilla scored his second touchdown of the day seven minutes later, this time with a 45-yard touchdown rush. Less than a minute later, Lane’s second string quarterback Noah Mayra got sacked in the end zone for a safety, giving Taft two more points.

Mayra played all four quarters due to a previous injury to Lane’s Mark Seward, one of multiple key players out for Lane. Lane was also without sophomore running back Alex Lagges and junior cornerback TJ Harper, who have played big roles for Lane in recent weeks. Senior running back Casey Joyce was out for Lane since week seven.

“They got a chance to see us earlier in the year and they made the adjustments and it doesn’t help that you know we’re a little banged up. … We were tired,” Lane Head Coach Dedrick Dewalt said. “So we just didn’t have it today.”

Taft continued to exploit a weakened Lane team in the second quarter as Abad showed off his speed with 32- and 74-yard touchdown runs, giving the Eagles a 30-0 halftime lead.

Even with heavy rain coming down for parts of the game, the Eagles still were able to put on one of the more impressive running attacks Lane faced all year, with 374 yards on the ground during the game. The attack was led by Abad as well as a running back trio of Padilla, sophomore Stephen Carrera and freshman Diesel McFadden.

Between the three of those guys, I mean, it’s two sophomores and a freshmen,” Elder said. “It’s exciting to see what we have coming for the next three years. And they’re already very talented young men and football players.”

While Padilla sat out for much of the second half, Carrera and McFadden would carry the workload. A 6-yard McFadden touchdown rush and a 29-yard touchdown reception by junior Jayden Harris (his lone catch of the day) would pull the lead to 44-0 heading into the fourth. With a 40 point lead, the fourth quarter went forward with a running clock.

As Taft piled on the points, Lane couldn’t get much going offensively. The Champions didn’t get a first down the entire first half and couldn’t convert on an 11-minute fourth quarter drive, which ended on a turnover on downs. A strong defensive line from the Eagles held Lane to just 47 yards from scrimmage the whole afternoon.

One bright spot for Lane was an increased offensive workload from sophomore Jacobi Thurmond, traditionally a cornerback who had nine carries for 64 yards on Saturday.

“He’s one of those guys that we can build around,” Dewalt said of Thurmond. “We have him for two more years. … So you know, he’s just gonna be one of those guys that we can build around coming into next season.”

The loss concludes what has been one of the most successful seasons in recent history for Lane. The Champions finish with their first winning season since 2008. The season also included a state playoff berth for Lane for the first time since 2013.

The effort was largely led by a senior group that Dewalt says has “meant a lot to this program.” But, with 19 players set to graduate this year, including Seward and captains Joyce, Finn Merrill, James Wynne and Yiannis Katsogridakis, Dewalt is looking forward to a new-look team next year.

“It starts in the offseason, you have to start early,” Dewalt said. “Give the guys about two months off and we have to get back into the weight room. We have to get physical. … With this group that we have now we just rather get back to the drawing board and get into the weight room and get into the offseason program and we’ll be fine next year.”