Nick Boucher has endured a lot of losing since taking over the football program at his alma mater in 2012.
He hopes those early struggles are a thing of the past for his Lakewood football team.
They have been through the first third of the season with the Vikings off to a 3-0 start and ranked No. 7 in Division 4 in the first Associated Press football poll of the season.
“It is a great thing for the kids to be recognized, but we realize it’s still early and we have a lot of work to do,” Boucher said. “Hopefully we can continue what we’ve done through the rest of the season.”
The 3-0 start is the first since 2006 for Lakewood, which didn’t win a game two years ago. That winless 2013 season capped a three-year stretch where the Vikings won just three games.
“We’ve been through a lot,” Boucher said. “We were tired of losing and ready to win.”
Lakewood made progress by winning four games a year ago, but is now focused on accomplishing things the program hasn’t achieved in a while — a winning record and reaching the playoffs. The Vikings’ last winning season was in 2005 and the last playoff appearance was in 2002.
“We have a great group of kids and it’s the closest group I’ve ever had,” Boucher said. “They are friends on and off the field.”
Defense has been one of the keys to Lakewood’s strong start. The Vikings are allowing just 8.0 points per game, which includes a shutout win over Belding in Week 2. That shutout was the first for Lakewood since 2007 and linebackers Scott Swift and Jayson O’Mara have been driving forces in the defensive success.
“They are third-year starters on varsity and took lumps throughout their sophomore year,” Boucher said. “They know the defense in and out and are the physical and verbal leaders on and off the field.”
Lakewood’s defense will be tested Friday in a Greater Lansing Athletic Conference showdown against unbeaten Stockbridge, which has the most prolific passing attack in mid-Michigan.
“The kids are excited,” Boucher said. “We know Stockbridge is averaging 54 points per game and we’re only giving up eight. We know Stockbridge is a more than worthy opponent and we’re excited to play them. It’s going to be a great game.”
Contact Brian Calloway at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.