In the last six years, the Bexley High School football team hasn't had too much to fear when it faced Lakewood.

In the last six years, the Bexley High School football team hasn't had too much to fear when it faced Lakewood.

Bexley hasn't lost to the Lancers since 2002 (10-7) and has outscored Lakewood by an average of 42.6 to 9.5 in those six wins.

Senior wide receiver Scott Podlasiak, however, can remember times when the game between the schools was a lot more exciting. Podlasiak, the son of former Bexley coach Steve Podlasiak, was a water boy in the late 1990s when the rivalry was in its heyday.

"I remember Lakewood was always good and the games between Bexley and Lakewood and Licking Valley were great games," said Podlasiak, whose team fell to 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the MSL-Ohio after losing to Granville 21-7 last Friday. "I certainly don't think we can overlook them. One play can change everything and you never know when that one play is going to happen."

Lakewood coach Rex Sponhaltz remembers those days, too. Sponhaltz coached the Lancers during the 1991-92 seasons when he also was the school's athletic director. After leading the team to a 6-4 finish in 1992, Sponhaltz left Lakewood to coach Big Walnut, where he was 23-27 in five seasons.

Sponhaltz said restoring Lakewood's program isn't something that is going to happen overnight, but he is starting to see signs of progress.

"We're a little bit further behind at this juncture than I thought we would be," said Sponhaltz, whose team is trying to snap a six-game losing streak. "(In a 49-6 loss to Columbus Academy last Friday), our running game showed some improvement and our special teams were getting better.

"Defensively, we're still giving up the big play which is frustrating, but other than that, we're getting better. We have to keep everything moving forward without losing ground in any area where we've made progress."

Sponhaltz's overhaul of Lakewood included scrapping the wing-T offense for the power-I and shifting from a 4-3 defense to a 50 defense.

"They're a lot different than the team we played last year," said Bexley coach John Smith, whose team won 27-6 a year ago. "You can see what they're trying to do. They've got a strong running back (Joe Bowman), a skilled quarterback (Chad Auber) that can throw the ball and a good-sized tight end (Scott Vierstra) to throw to. They're pretty solid."

Bexley is looking for a more consistent effort offensively and defensively. Against the Blue Aces, the Lions fumbled a lateral and Tyler Link scooped it up and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown in the first half. Link also forced a fumble and picked off a pass and the Blue Aces blocked a pair of punts.

The Lions' lone touchdown was a 91-yard kickoff return by Ronnell Armstrong in the third.

With the way things went against the Blue Aces, Smith said he's more concerned with finding consistency than he is worried about the Lions' compliancy against Lakewood.

"At 2-3, I don't think we have to worry about being complacent," Smith said "We had some bright spots against Granville but we haven't made the gains that I would have liked to see at this point. We have to be more consistent on offense. The times we were able to move the ball, we ended up shooting ourselves in the foot."

"We have to go practice and work harder this week," Podlasiak added. "(Against the Blue Aces) we proved that we can hang there with anyone in the league. We just need to step up and eliminate the mistakes."


Next game

LAKEWOOD at BEXLEY

• When: 7:30 p.m., Friday

•Last meeting: 2008, Bexley 27-6

•Lakewood (0-5 overall, 0-2 in MSL-Ohio) to date: Lost to West Muskingum 41-0; lost to Ready 52-21; lost to Johnstown 42-6; lost to Newark Catholic 47-0; lost to Columbus Academy 49-6

•Bexley (2-3 overall, 1-1 in MSL-Ohio) to date: Lost to Canal Winchester 43-0; def. Northridge 37-7; lost to Hartley 42-14; def. Whitehall 17-0; lost to Granville 21-7

•Top Lancers: Chad Auber (QB), Joe Bowman (RB), Jacob Gray (FB/LB), Jordan Gray (FS) Zyon Mirise (TB/LB) and Scott Moran (OT)

•Top Lions: Kyle Boddie (RB), Adam Leeds (QB), Martin Raabe (OL/DL), Elijah Scott (WR/DB) and Tom Zervas (LB)