LAKEVIEW — The Lakeview Wildcats narrowly missed out on the MHSAA football playoffs.
Narrowly means losing four games to playoff teams, one of which is still playing (Newaygo) in the regional finals. Lakeview lost three of those games by two touchdowns or less, including a 9-8 loss to Newaygo and 21-14 to regular season unbeaten Reed City.
Still, the Wildcats (5-4) have improved their win total each of the last three seasons, the last two under coach Guenther Mittelstaedt. Lakeview went 2-7 in 2010 and 3-6 in 2011. They have not reached the playoffs since going 6-4 in 2006.
“I was really pleased with our senior leadership and I was pleased with the effort,” Mittelstaedt said. “I was just so disappointed for the kids that we didn’t make the playoffs. For the amount of effort they put in that would have been a good reward for them.”
Coming into the season, Mittelstaedt expected to be improved on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.
“We expected to be much improved over last year,” Mittelstaedt said. “Offensively, we wanted to be able to move the ball much better than last year. We did that by approximately 40 yards a game. Defensively, we needed to get much stronger and we did that.”
The Wildcats averaged 21.4 points per game offensively and allowed 17.2 points defensively. That was 78 points more than a year ago on offense and 98 points less on defense from last year.
That was a drastic change from the 9.7 on offense and 34.4 defensive average from two years ago.
After two years in the Wing-T offense, the Wildcats are improving, but there is still more that can be done.
“We are getting better and better, but we are not there yet,” Mittelstaedt said. “The second year was improved from the first year. We need to still improve on staying with our blocks and moving people. Our backs and quarterback have to do a better job of faking.”
Finishing with a winning record was a first time accomplishment for many of the varsity seniors. Mittelstaedt credited the seniors for their improvement this season.
“Our group of seniors just got a lot better individually,” Mittelstaedt said. “Our inside linebackers (Cory Hamlin, Nate Hayward) improved a great deal, as did our entire senior class.”
Mittelstaedt is hoping this year’s success will continue to motivate younger players to attain more.
“I hope so. We had a solid junior varsity team (6-3),” Mittelstaedt said. “We feel there are some sophomores that can help us and we really have quite a few juniors coming back too.”
Lakeview will return five or six players on each side of the ball next year, some in key positions.
Quarterback Shawn Lindsey, running back Garret Cavendish and tackle Trever Bacon are a few on offense. Defensively, Joey Cole, Terry Grieser and John Zuluaga-Torres are a few returners.
A key to success next year is getting stronger.
“We like them to play other sports, but we need to get more time in the weight room to get stronger,” Mittelstaedt said.
Overall, Mittelsteadt was happy with the past season and is looking forward to his third year as coach of Lakeview football.
“We felt we lost to four good playoff teams,” Mittelstaedt said. “We lost a couple of heartbreakers. If we get something to go our way we would have been playing later in the season.
“It showed us we can play with good teams and possibly win,” he added.
at. Morley Stanwood W 24-8
vs. Holton W 30-22
at Newaygo L 9-8
vs. Chippewa Hills L 40-20
vs. Reed City L 21-14
at Hesperia W 20-13
vs. Central Montcalm W 26-14
at White Cloud W 37-0
vs. Big Rapids L 28-14
Final CSAA standings
Reed City 9-0
Big Rapids 8-1
Chippewa Hills 6-3
Morley Stanwood 3-6
Central Montcalm 2-7
White Cloud 0-9