With a playoff spot already clinched and only an outside chance of getting a share of a league title, Lakeview was playing its final game of the regular season only to gain some momentum heading into the postseason.
The Spartans did just that as Lakeview defeated Gull Lake, 40-21, in a Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference East Division contest at Gull Lake on Friday.
With the win, Lakeview ends the regular season at 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the division, finishing a game behind Kalamazoo Central, which held on to take the SMAC East title at 5-0.
“We talked about it all week. If you are going into the postseason, you don’t want to limp in,” Lakeview coach Matt Miller said. “You want to make sure you are going into the playoffs with the right attitude and feeling good. We did that tongiht.”
The final game of the season also showed Lakeview’s running game was also feeling good and gaining some momentum as Spartan senior Jay’Vion Settles set a school record with 316 yards on 23 carries, including four touchdowns. Settles had thought he had broken a school record earlier in the year, only to see a stat correction show he had come up short. This time, Settles didn’t leave any doubt, breaking the old mark of 276 yards by Dre’On Kemp.
“It feels great,” Settles said. “It means I will be remembered. I will have my name in the books, it’s a pretty sweet feeling. I thought I did it before, but doing it this time it feels even better.
“The line was playing great. I was just following my blocks and running behind them.”
On top of the record night of Settles, Lakeview’s C.J. Foster had 177 yards rushing on 17 carries.
“The running game was working great,” Miller said. “Jay’Vion ran great, C.J. ran great, all our backs did a good job and our offensive line blocked well.”
Lakeview controlled the game on the ground much of the first half as Settles had 187 yards rushing before halftime.
The Spartans’ Foster started the scoring with a touchdown run from two yards out for Lakeview to make it 7-0 with 5:53 left in the opening quarter.
Gull Lake responded with a touchdown dive from a yard out by John Volesky to cut the lead to 7-6.
Lakeview stayed on top as Settles had his first big run of the contest on an 87-yard touchdown run to give the Spartans a 14-6 lead.
The Blue Devils tied things up on a 74-yard drive midway through the second quarter that ended on a 15-yard touchdown run by Thomas Vandermolen. A 2-point conversion run by Volesky tied the game at 14-14.
Lakeview took over the momentum right before half as the Spartans drove 75 yards in less than 90 seconds as Settles scored from two yards out to make it 21-14 with just :15 left before intermission.
Settles then scored on the first play from scrimmage in the second half on a 65-yard touchdown run to give Lakeview a 27-14 lead.
Gull Lake made the game close once again with a touchdown run from five yards out by Vandermolen to cut the lead to 27-21.
Volesky led Gull Lake with 93 yards on 22 carries as the Blue Devils end the season at 2-7.
However, Lakeview would add two touchdowns in the fourth quarter to pull away with the Spartans’ Josiah Kitchen scoring from a yard out on a quarterback keeper and Settles adding his final score from a yard out to make it 40-21.
With the victory, Lakeview heads to the playoffs for the fifth straight season, a school record.
“We had to come into this game focused on getting better and getting ready for the postseason,” Miller said. “We were already qualified for the playoffs, everyone expecting us to just take care of business here tonight. But Gull Lake is a pretty good team, a really good offense, so we needed to figure out a way to get it done and we did.
“We are excited and the kids have earned the right to be in the playoffs and we’ll find who we play on Sunday and take it from there.”