Jersey Mike’s Team of the Week: Lakewood
Throughout the football season, Jersey Mike’s and Shore Sports Network have teamed up to select a Shore Conference football Team of the Week based on its performance over the past weekend.
The final Jersey Mike’s Team of the Week award for the 2017 season goes to Lakewood, which defeated Lacey, 22-14, to advance to the NJSIAA South Jersey Group III semifinals and continue a season that was in doubt just a few months ago. Shore Sports Network and Jersey Mike’s were at practice Tuesday afternoon to present the Piners and head coach L.J. Clark with a special game ball and a $500 Jersey Mike’s gift card.
Senior quarterback Zyheir Jones ran for 126 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries and threw for 11 yards and a touchdown to give Lakewood its first playoff win since 2013. Jones’ 11-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter gave the Piners a 14-7 lead and his 33-yard touchdown pass to Myles Jackson, plus a 2-point conversion, gave Lakewood a 22-7 lead in the second half.
The victory also served as redemption for Lakewood, as Lacey won a 34-33 thriller during the regular season between the Class B South rivals.
Lakewood’s season was in doubt over the summer when the board of education elected to cut nearly all funding to the athletic department, which included the football team. Money was raised to ensure the Piners would see the field this season, but adversity struck again when Jones, their star quarterback, was injured in a preseason game. Without Jones, Lakewood limped to an 0-2 start and it appeared the Piners would be in for a long year.
Jones returned in Week 3, however, and led the charge in a 32-29 win over Jackson Liberty that began a turnaround for the Piners. After dropping consecutive games to Lacey and division champion Point Boro, Lakewood won three straight games to qualify for the playoffs for the sixth straight season before beating Lacey to reach the semifinals.
Jones has been electric in just seven games for the Piners, rushing for 1,003 yards and nine touchdowns and passing for 1,002 yards and 16 touchdowns. His impact has been just as great on defense with a Shore Conference-best 8 interceptions, 4 sacks, 45 tackles and an interception return for a touchdown. He also has five 2-point conversion passes and five 2-point conversion runs.
His favorite target has been his twin brother, Jyheir, who leads the Shore with 12 touchdown catches and has 50 receptions for 809 yards. Jyheir Jones is also a standout on defense with 70 tackles and three interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
Lakewood also has one of the most disruptive defenders in the Shore in senior defensive lineman Josh Lezin. He has basically camped out in the opponents’ backfield this season with 80 tackles, 44 tackles for a loss and 11 sacks. A nightmare to deal with on special teams, Lezin has three blocked extra points, a blocked field goal and three blocked punts.
Lakewood will head to Camden on Saturday to face second-seeded Woodrow Wilson (8-2) in the South Jersey Group III semifinals. The Piners are looking to return to a sectional final for the first time since 1986 when they defeated Bridgeton, 7-6, to claim the program’s only sectional championship.