Lakeview hopes to hit the ground running in 2012 with a new run-oriented offense that is designed for the Spartans to play ball-control, tough-nosed football that will hopefully allow for them to get over the .500 mark and back to winning football this season.
The Spartans are coming off back-to-back 4-5 seasons under third-year head coach Matt Miller and the change in offensive strategy has Lakeview hoping for a lot more success on offense than it’s enjoyed recently with that progress hopefully showing up in the win column.
“Our goal every week is to put our team in the best position to be successful and that’s to win,” Miller said. “But we have to take care of ourselves first and that means execution. If we execute and if we hustle, the wins will start to come.”
Lakeview will be going to the classic veer offense, looking to move the ball down the field with a hard running style and consistency. Miller thinks the change is a good match for his team.
“We wanted something that is simple and a good fit for high school football and the veer offense has been around a long time and there’s a reason for that. We know it’s good for high school football, it’s as good as any offenses you see out there and better than most,” Miller said. “Offense is all about execution and this being a pretty basic philosophy mixes well when you have high school kids playing football.
“You can say it’s three yards and a cloud of dust, or you can say, if you get four yards every time, you can’t be stopped. That’s what it’s all about. We are going to execute a very small playbook and work toward perfection on what we do and do what we do very well.”
Helping to install the new offense is new assistant coach Brett Foerster, who ran the veer to success at Portage Central for several years, going 36-16 over five seasons as the head coach. After leaving Portage Central, Foerster coached at Climax-Scotts last season as an assistant before coming to Lakeview.
“I think the offense is coming along,” said senior lineman Chris Zanetti. “I think we will eventually get there. We can focus on running the ball and get a couple of yards at a time and keep moving the ball. I think it will work well for us.”
Running the offensive attack will be junior quarterback Riley Davis, who saw some time last year on varsity as a sophomore. Miller says Davis has picked up the offensive well and the coaching staff is excited about his potential.
Lakeview will have a stable of running backs sharing time in an offense that thrives on fresh legs as Mike Campbell, Isaac Cloward, Nick Ayres and Steven Cordova all should get carries.
Miller is also excited about the skill players catching the ball for Lakeview as he points out, it won’t be all just a few yards and a cloud of dust on every snap.
“Our philosophy is to run to win and to throw to score, so we will be throwing the ball,” Miller said.
He adds that the strength of the entire team could be his bookend tight ends in 6-foot-2 Jake Love and 6-3 Donnie Ernsberger. The Spartans also hope to get production out of receivers Bryce Williams, Tyler Wright and Trevor Underwood.
The offensive line is young, but it also includes one of the top players on the team in returning All-City and all-league player Rodney Harvey, a senior who will line up at center in the new offense.
He will be joined by a group of linemen as Lakeview will look to rotate fresh bodies in the grind-it-out offense, including Evan Eldridge, J.D. Jean-Jules, Grant Anderson, Cole Cleaver as well as Zanetti.
Lakeview will stay in its 4-4 defense this season with a mix of returning players and some fresh faces.
Harvey returns as an all-league defensive end for Lakeview and he will be joined on the line with a group of players all looking for playing time, including C.J. Gordon and Seth Britton at the other defensive end spot and Chaz Meredith, Cole Campbell and Zanetti in the down linemen positions.
The linebackers will include an athletic group in Cloward, Ayres and Ernsberger as well as Max Pennock and Raunel Packer in the outside linebacker spots.
A young defensive backfield will include Hunter Bost at safety, Wright and Alex Schwartz at corners as well as Camden Hames and Underwood seeing reps back there.
While the team is young in spots and as they are putting in a new offense, Lakeview does feel the chemistry on the squad will compensate for any weaknesses.
“The strength of this team is their cohesiveness. They are all really close and coaches might say that a lot, but this group of kids really likes each other,” Miller said. “That’s important, because if you trust the man next to you, you will do a little more for them. Our growth will be all about putting forth the effort for one another to make this team better.”
Bill Broderick is the sports editor of the Enquirer and can be reached at 269 966-0678 or at firstname.lastname@example.org