When you want your season to get off to a fast start, it’s a good idea to get off to a fast start in the opening game.
That’s what Lakeview did as the Spartans jumped out to an early lead and then rolled to a 28-0 win over Niles in Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference non-division action on Thursday.
On its first possession, Lakeview drove the field and scored on offense.
Then on the first Niles possession, the Spartans forced a fumble, scooped it up and scored.
The result was a 14-0 lead by Lakeview midway through the first quarter.
“Getting those two quick scores right away was a great way to start. Almost too good, because maybe we relaxed a bit after that, but those two early scores definitely set the tone,” Lakeview coach Matt Miller said. “Going down on the first drive and scoring, and then coming back on defense and scoring and getting up 14-0 off the get-go, that was a huge way to start the season.”
After getting the opening kickoff near midfield, Lakeview took five plays to get down to the shadow of the end zone, including an impressive, tackle-breaking 38-yard run by Mike Campbell that took the ball down to the one. Three plays later, Campbell dove in from a yard out to give Lakeview a 7-0 lead.
Campbell talked about the importance of getting a win in the first game of the season.
“It’s very important to get a win the first time out. It’s a big boost for our team and it’s a great feeling,” Campbell said. “We still have work to do, but it’s a nice way to start the season.”
Niles struggled in its pistol spread offense early and fumbled on its first snap on offense, but it was recovered by the Viking quarterback. On the next snap, Niles fumbled again, but this time it was Lakeview’s Jake Love who scooped the ball from a yard out and in one motion fell in to the end zone for a touchdown for a 14-0 lead with 7:31 still left in the opening quarter.
“It’s hard to stop the spread, we’ve been working on it all week. So to stop them early and get a turnover and a score off of it is huge,” Love said. “They just fumbled the snap and I just came up and grabbed the ball and rolled in.”
Lakeview took the 14-0 lead into halftime. The Spartans broke through for another score midway through the third quarter as Lakeview’s sophomore quarterback Skyler Nichols ran in on a keeper for a touchdown from four yards out to make it 21-0 with 2:35 left in the period.
The Spartans finished off the scoring midway through the fourth quarter when Campbell broke free for a 36-yard touchdown to make it 28-0 with 8:30 remaining.
Lakeview was led by Campbell, who had 151 yards rushing on 20 carries, including the two touchdowns. Malik Schrad added 71 yards on 12 carries.
The Spartan defense came up big, holding Niles to just 12 yards rushing in the first half and 122 yards total in the game. Lakeview also came up with turnovers throughout the contest with a fumble recovery by J.D. Jean-Jules, another fumble recovery by Love to add to his fumble recovery for a touchdown, an interception by Matt Barrett, an interception by Dontrel Childress. Along with those conventional turnovers, Lakeview forced Niles to turn the ball over on downs three other times.
“We didn’t feel like we played our best football in the first half, but we did what we needed to do. To get a shutout in any game is a great accomplishment and our offense did what it needed to do,” Miller said. “We like to pride ourselves on playing solid defense and maintaining field position and we did that. And our offense made the plays when we need to.”
It is the first season-opening win for Lakeview in three years, and after the Spartans won the last five games to end the regular season last year, it was exactly how Miller wanted to see his team start 2013.
“Nice to get that first game under your belt. The first game is always tough. You can always improve from Week 1 to Week 2 and we have some improvement to do. But we won 28-0, so we are pretty happy with how we played,” Miller said.