WHEELING, W.Va. -- Central Catholic coach Terry Totten was happy to accept an invite to the Friends of Coal Classic. Too bad the invitation came late.
Central Catholic would have been better off playing in an event like this last year, when it had a 16-0 team. Or in 2004, when it also had an undefeated team.
This Central team, however, couldn't match the stiff competition yesterday afternoon. Lakeland, Fla., clubbed Central Catholic, 35-0, in the middle contest of a tripleheader at Wheeling Island Stadium.
Lakeland is a perennial power in Florida, has won five state titles since 1996 and was USA Today's mythical national champion in 2005. Only two years ago, the University of Florida signed seven Lakeland seniors.
"We fought for about 10 years to get our program on a national stage," Totten said. "It just happens to our program that this is in one of those years for us."
Lakeland outgained Central Catholic, 398-64, and Lakeland had 322 yards rushing.
"I'm not real surprised, but I'm a little disappointed this wasn't something like a 21-7 game," Totten said. "No excuses. Lakeland was better than us. I'm just a little curious how we would've held up with one of our finer teams."
Central couldn't stand up to a much bigger and faster Lakeland team. Lakeland scored on its first offensive play, an 80-yard run by Javares McCoy. From there, it seemed like Lakeland was running downhill the rest of the day.
"The speed was the thing," said Central Catholic linebacker Sam Loughery. "They weren't like any other team in Pennsylvania."
Totten said, "We'll see teams as big [as Lakeland], but we won't see teams as fast."
What complicated matters for Central Catholic was a left knee injury to starting quarterback Nolan Krivijanski on the fifth play. Totten said Krivijanski's injury most likely is a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
"He's probably done for the season," Totten said. "I had 10 seniors in my program and lost three of them for the year in [preseason] camp. Now, I just lost my quarterback for the season."
Lakeland led, 21-0, after the first quarter. The other touchdowns came on a 1-yard run by Rodney Watson and a 40-yard run by Steward Butler.
Lakeland added single touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters on Aaron Trudell's 21-yard run and Butler's 9-yard jaunt.
Mike White can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1975.