LAKEVIEW — A year ago, Lakeview’s Nate Shurlow was a first-year starting quarterback.
Actually, he was a first-year high school football player. Shurlow, an all-around talented athlete, was a member of the Wildcats soccer team the previous two fall seasons.
But then again, being a quarterback runs in the family. Nate’s cousin Kyler (Shurlow) led the Lowell Red Arrows to a 9-0 regular season, O-K White Conference championship and a 10-1 overall record in 2013. Kyler is now playing college football at Hope College.
“Last year, I definitely needed a lot of work,” Shurlow said. “There was a lot of uncertainty in what to do because I didn’t play as a freshman and sophomore. I had to learn a lot, but I improved a lot throughout the season.
“I think I’m a lot more confident with the offense this year,” he added.
Shurlow passed for 815 yards with 11 touchdowns and ran for 601 yards (on 70 carries) and scored another 11 touchdowns as a junior. He earned a CSAA honorable mention.
“Nate had steady improvement throughout the season. His ability to make plays with his feet, as well as his arm are hard to ignore,” Lakeview coach Sean Rinehart said.
Rinehart — now in his second season — coached a talented team to a 7-3 record and the Wildcats’ first playoff appearance since 2006.
Shurlow said the biggest improvement, so far, is the team’s familiarity with the offense.
“We are doing a lot better than last season through these passing camps,” Shurlow said. “Everyone is just more familiar with the offense. Last year, it was our first year with coach (Rinehart) and he puts in a lot of time going over the offense with us. I think he even took another step this year and is working even harder to make sure the younger kids are getting it.”
The Wildcats competed in a 7-on-7 passing camp on Tuesday at Legacy Field in Greenville. The Yellow Jackets and Fulton Pirates also participated. Lakeview is also holding a team minicamp this week in preparation for the season.
Shurlow also plays basketball, but does not play a spring sport. Since the end of the basketball season, Shurlow has focused on getting better for his senior season of football.
“In the spring, I did quite a bit of football related training. I went to some camps and just a lot of weight lifting,” Shurlow said. “I had a lot of work to do over the offseason to get better. There were a lot of things I needed to do better this season than last year.”
“We have some things to do at quarterback with getting the ball down a little bit and we have some things to do with our route running,” Rinehart said on Tuesday. “Every team has these issues right now. All-in-all, I’m happy with what we have been doing.”
The Wildcats open the season at home on Aug. 28 against the Tri County Vikings in a CSAA Silver game.
The CSAA added Tri County, Kent City and the Grant Tigers to the league for this school. With the addition, the CSAA split into two divisions (also the Gold).
Shurlow is confident heading into the upcoming season.
“I expect us to go 9-0 for sure. We shouldn’t lose in our conference,” Shurlow said. “Then we want to win a playoff game and make a run toward a state championship.”
The first official football practice is Aug. 11.
Aug. 28 vs. Tri County
Sept. 5 vs. Houghton Lake
Sept. 12 at Holton
Sept. 19 vs. White Cloud
Sept. 26 at M. Stanwood
Oct. 3 vs. Kent City
Oct. 10 at Hesperia
Oct. 17 vs. Ludington
Oct. 24 at C. Montcalm
Note: All games scheduled for 7 p.m. Lakeview scrimmages at Caro on Aug. 21.