LAKEVIEW – From 2000 to 2006 the Lakeview Wildcats football team made the playoffs six out of seven years with a record of 46-24. From 2007 to 2010, the Wildcats went 15-21 without a playoff appearance.
This summer former Maple Valley football coach Guenther Mittelstaedt was hired to turn around the Lakeview football program. Mittelstaedt had won 170 games in his coaching career with appearances in the state semifinals and finals.
Along with Mittelstaedt came a new coaching style, philosophy and other changes. The Wildcats are currently 1-4 and one loss away from being officially eliminated from the postseason for a fifth straight season.
“We’ve been competitive in all of our games. We seem to play better in the first half of our games,” Mittelstaedt said. “The kids are adjusting to the coaching and seem to be moving the ball on offense, but not scoring points the way we would like.
“Defensively, the last couple of games we haven’t played as well as we would like,” he added.
Mittelstaedt was hired just prior to their football camp and a few weeks ahead of fall practice. Even with the limited time to install his Wing-T offense and get to know his players, Mittelstaedt said his team is getting things together.
“Overall, it’s a period of adjustment. We are starting to put a fairly solid base down,” he said. “Our junior varsity has been very successful. They seem to be doing very well with the basic offense and defense.”
The Wildcats do not have a freshman team, but the JV team is 4-1. Potential varsity players from the JV team have been left at the lower level to help develop at the appropriate level.
The turnaround at Lakeview wasn’t going to happen overnight. After a coaching carousel the past five seasons the program is looking for some stability.
“The offense is more successful the more years you are experienced with it,” Mittelstaedt said. “We’ve changed offenses and I believe I’m the fourth head coach in five years here. We need a little bit of continuity.”
Lakeview will travel to Hesperia (3-2) this week before hosting Morley Stanwood (4-1) for homecoming on Oct. 8. They close out the year with Big Rapids and currently undefeated Reed City.
Mittelstaedt didn’t have a win total in mind prior to the season, but did have some goals set.
“I wanted them to be competitive and have a chance to win each week,” he said. “I wanted them to work hard and to play aggressive.
“I have seen those things in spurts. We are getting there,” he added.
Mittelstaedt will be looking forward to having a full season under his belt for next year as opposed to this season.
“The timing was tough,” he said. “We didn’t any passing league, no weight time together and I really didn’t know any of the players until the first day of practice.”