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It's a tough lesson to learn, but there's arguably none more important in sports.

Before you can win, you can't lose.

And before heading into a long holiday weekend, Lebanon was thoroughly schooled on the concept in the hardest way possible over a 41-7 shellacking against rival Cedar Crest.

The Cedars simply couldn't get out of their own way Friday, as if a single dark cloud from the night's game-delaying storm had stuck around to hang over the team for four quarters. Four of the Cedars' six first-half drives ended in turnovers, including three croaked by lost fumbles. Lebanon botched a snap immediately after burning each of its first two timeouts, the last killing a possession at the Falcons' 2-yard line.

Following a merciful halftime break, the Cedars then watched Kobe Bolanos turn a wide corner and run behind them for a half-opening touchdown.

Suffice to say, it will be back to basics for Lebanon before a Week Two tilt with Northern Lebanon.

"It was fundamental breakdowns," Cedars coach Gerry Yonchiuk said of the loss. "And that's on me. As the head coach, I have to do a better job of making sure that those little things are cleaned up or that they don't occur again."

Conversely, Cedar Crest executed a clean, fundamental approach en route to reaching its new 1-0 mark. The early formula featured bruising junior back Justice Belleman, who surpassed the 100-yard mark in the third quarter and punctuated the Falcons' first two drives with scores.

When the 6-foot-1, 195-pound bowling ball stepped out due to injury in the first half, the Falcons found senior tight end Raymie Ferreira to convert a third down and 22. First-year starting quarterback Stevie Roda then kept the ball for a short score and Cedar Crest continued to roll.

Ferreira and Evan Horn, Cedar Crest's two undisputed senior stars this fall, actually did little of the heavy lifting in Friday's blowout, which belonged to the team's offensive and defensive lines. Their collective work fulfilled the most fundamental belief in football, starting that wins and losses begin in the trenches.

"It really all falls behind our offensive line. They can get nasty at times," Falcons coach Rob Wildasin said. "They can really get it up and get after it. And I don't think those guys know how good they can be."

Belleman knows. His favorite run of the night came early in the first quarter, a 21-yarder he took to the house thanks to acres of open grass cleared by the big boys up front.

"My hole was there, my line did their job and that was it," Belleman said. "It was a nice play executed well."

Meanwhile, Yonchiuk struggled to find many positives initially without the aid of breaking down the coaches' tape. The good news for Lebanon is that a handful of its players, including running backs Malik Hunter and Jan Suarez Torres, as well as signal caller Cody Kissinger, broke out for plays of more than 20 yards. Sophomore Jayson Bowman also tacked on a touchdown late to bust up the goose egg on the scoreboard.

And the Cedars penetrated the red zone on multiple occasions in each half, despite only crossing the goal line once.

The potential is there. They just may have to spend a little more time figuring out how exactly to fulfill it.

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