Lakeview finally in playoffs

Lakeview finally in playoffs

News

Lakeview finally in playoffs

By

RICHLAND

One win and they would be in.

For many years, that was easier said than done as Lakeview has failed to get that final needed win to get into the playoffs.

Lakeview entered Friday night’s Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East contest needing only one victory to put the Spartans in to the playoffs for the first time since 2003 – and this time they earned that precious sixth win.

Lakeview defeated Gull Lake, 40-12, to help the Spartans improve to 6-3 on the season as Lakeview played like a team that had no intention of missing the postseason for a 9th straight year.

“Feels great, I’m really happy for our kids. They’ve worked hard and deserve to be in the playoffs,” Spartan coach Matt Miller said.

Leading only 6-0 with three and half minutes remaining in the first quarter, a Lakeview (6-3, 6-1) fumble was recovered deep in Spartan territory, setting up an opportunity for the Blue Devils (2-7, 2-5) to tie or take the lead.

However the emotional play of the game came only moments later when Spartan junior Isaac Cloward picked off a Tyler Vandermolen pass at the 30 yard line.

Three plays later junior Mike Campbell put on the jets, racing his way untouched for a 46-yard touchdown run, extending the lead to two scores.

“He had an exceptional night tonight. Mike’s a good running back. I’m glad he had such a good game on such a big night,” Miller said.

Proving that he’s more than a one-hit wonder, Campbell rattled off a 64-yarder with 2:15 left in the first half helping the back amass a game-high 248 yards on 21 carries including three touchdowns.

Nick Ayres added 50 yards on 10 carries for the Spartans.

The Blue Devils too had their fair share of firework plays.

With just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter, Gull Lake’s Alex Meade took the handoff, and sprinted off center, trotting a full 70 yards for the long scoring strike.

The senior got the job done on special teams as well blocking a fourth quarter extra point.

“Alex is one of our best overall playmakers, he’s a great guy, a captain, a team leader. I just can’t say enough great things about him,” Gull Lake coach Tim Hiller said. “He had a stellar game today to wrap up his career, and I don’t think his career is over; I think you’ll see him keep playing.”

Jacob Stafford fired up a cold, wet crowd with his late fourth quarter sack when the senior knocked down Lakeview quarterback Riley Davis on the Spartan one yard line.

Both teams managed to play 48 minutes of nearly flawless football as only one flag was thrown in the contest, an intentional grounding call on Gull Lake early in the first quarter.

“A very clean game and we played that way all year,” Hiller said. “We’re really getting closer as a program and our guys are starting to fly around and play fast, play hard and physical on defense.”

The Blue Devils lone touchdown of the first half came on a nice corner route to senior tight end Zac Caldwell.

Alluding pressure from the Spartan defensive line, Vandermolen rolled right and found Caldwell near the far sideline. The senior stiff-armed a Spartan tackler and sprinted 62 yards for the score.

Junior Donnie Ernsberger was stout on defense for the Spartans, netting a game-high 12 tackles.

After beginning the season 1-3, the Spartans have put the pieces together winning five straight games.

“It says a heckuva lot about their character. This is a heckuva football team we have and I’m really proud of their resiliency with fighting back from one and three,” Miller said. “We’re a pretty good football team right now, and I’m really happy for them.”

More USA TODAY High School Sports