LAKEVIEW — Lakeview’s offense was unstoppable, its was defense just as good.
The combination of the Wildcats offense and defense led to a dominating 52-6 homecoming victory over CSAA rival Hesperia on Saturday afternoon at Kos Field.
Lakeview’s offense scored on six of its first seven possessions and twice more on turnovers. The only drive of the seven the Wildcats didn’t score, was the drive that ended because of halftime.
“I challenged them to come out better than they did against Reed City (a 32-21 loss),” Lakeview coach Sean Rinehart said. “Hesperia is a good football program, but unfortunately had so many injuries. I challenged them to step up and put together four quarters and they did that and some today.”
Lakeview’s defense set the tone early by holding the Panthers to a three-and-out punt of their first possession.
The Wildcats responded with a 58-yard drive, capped by a 12-yard Garrett Cavendish touchdown run for a 7-0 lead.
On Hesperia’s next possession, Lakeview’s Brad Hamlin forced a fumble, which Cavendish gathered and returned 23 yards for another touchdown and a 14-0 lead.
“That was huge. High school football is all about momentum,” Rinehart said. “You get a big turnover or a big stop and the whole game changes. We saw last week against us and we were on the other end of it today.”
Cavendish, a senior, had a great game on the ground with 161 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns. He also recovered two fumbles.
Offensively, Lakeview rushed for 274 yards and an average of 10 plus yards.
“We always talk about, all you have to block is for about three seconds,” Rinehart said. “This option style offense we have to let our running backs make plays and they did today. The offensive line stepped up today.”
Quarterback Nate Shurlow made it 21-0 with a 55-yard touchdown run with 3:40 left in the first quarter. The points came after John Torres intercepted a Panthers pass.
Torres and Cavendish added touchdowns in the second quarter for a 35-0 lead with 5:12 remaining in the half.
Shurlow found Shawn Lindsey with just 3:52 remaining in the half on a 26-yard touchdown reception for a 42-0 advantage at the half.
“I was very proud of the defense. They (Hesperia) have a couple of loads (players) and run the ball hard and low,” Rinehart said. “Tackling them low is important. We had problems tackling Reed City and we did a great job keeping them (Hesperia) inside.”
Caleb Ruvalcaba kicked a 30-yard field goal on Lakeview’s first possession of a second half for a 45-0 lead.
Lakeview capped its scoring when Dakota Beemer returned an interception 30 yards for a touchdown and a 52-0 lead with 5:40 to go in the third quarter.
In all, Lakeview’s defense forced four turnovers. Shurlow rushed for 65 yards, while Torres finished with 31 yards on the ground.
Terry Grieser led Lakeview with 10 tackles. Hamlin and Billy Miller each added seven tackles.
The win improved the Wildcats to 4-2 overall and into a tie for third in the CSAA with Hesperia (4-2). Two wins in the final three games will guarantee the Wildcats their first playoff appearance since 2006.
“There are three good teams still left. I’ve learned not to take anyone for granted,” Rinehart said. “Whether your in the playoffs or trying to make the playoffs teams are going to come out and give us their best. You can’t overlook anybody.”
First up, is Lakeview rival Central Montcalm on Friday. The Hornets lost 35-8 to Newaygo last week and fell to 3-3 overall.
“The rivaly next week will be an emotional game,” Rinehart said. “A lot of these know each other. I think it is going to be a great football game.”