2016-11-17 / Sports

Lakers no longer under the radar

A Column by Jay Bushen
Of The Enterprise staff

GLEN LAKE celebrates with the Division 6 regional trophy after beating Calumet 14-0 Saturday at Agassiz Field. Photo: Bryce Derouin GLEN LAKE celebrates with the Division 6 regional trophy after beating Calumet 14-0 Saturday at Agassiz Field. Photo: Bryce Derouin Honestly, I never saw this coming.

Glen Lake is one win away from playing at Ford Field for the first time in program history, but if you would have told me that was a possibility a mere seven weeks ago, I probably would have called you a homer.

And if you would have told me that the Lakers would win three playoff games and outscore opponents by a combined 60 points in the process, I might have called you crazy.

Don’t get me wrong. I knew this was a good football team. Heck, I picked them to win the conference before the season began and thought they could win a playoff game, maybe two. I knew about the seniors, the defense and the coaching staff. I even knew about the new-and-improved offense and Cade Peterson’s arm. But a run like this?

Nope. Never saw it coming.

From 2014-2015, Glen Lake lost 11 football games. Seven weeks ago, the Lakers were 4-2. The boys had just lost a heartbreaker at Frankfort — a game that cost them the conference championship — and were only four weeks removed from a frustrating loss to Traverse City St. Francis at Thirlby Field in which they were penalized 15 times. I saw potential, but I didn’t see district or regional champions.

I do now.

And I hope to again on Saturday when the Lakers return to Thirlby Field against Leroy Pine River, which has lost three games this season. If I was a bettin’ man, I would say the Bucks are in line for a fourth. Not just because opening day of deer season was this week, but because Glen Lake continues to surprise me.

The rate at which this team has improved since Week 6 is nothing short of impressive. They’ve outscored five opponents 171-38 in that span and, by doing so, have given the program its deepest playoff push since 1996.

I wasn’t able to make the trip to Calumet over the weekend but, while driving back from a quarterfinal volleyball match in Buckley on Tuesday, I was able to catch up with Glen Lake coach Jerry Angers over the phone. I explained my rationale to him, how I’m a bit perplexed by Glen Lake’s postseason success, and asked if he felt the same way.

He didn’t. Why not?

Angers could have talked about his star-studded coaching staff; the team’s lack of injuries; the offseason commitment in the weight room; the play of his son, Duke Angers, at middle linebacker; the additions of Cade Peterson, Drew Peterson and Tim Peterson; the unselfish attitude of players like Jared Jackson, who has done nothing but make plays since moving from quarterback to wide receiver this season; the postseason play of his secondary; the four-headed monster at running back, which includes touchdown machine Nick Apsey; the experience of his offensive and defensive lines; or the fans, who had no problem crossing the bridge and enduring the cold Calumet weather on Saturday.

Though all of the above have been factors throughout the 10-2 campaign, the eighth-year Glen Lake coach simply spoke of the heart and soul of his team: the seniors.

He referenced the adversity this group has faced on and off the field over the past few years, and how they’ve continued to grow together as one unit in the process.

I didn’t ask him to elaborate.

I didn’t need to.

Those boys have certainly faced some tough situations on the gridiron in the past few years, but that’s nothing compared to what they’ve gone through off the field. That adversity has clearly brought this bunch of young men together, and that’s brought about senior leadership few programs can stack up against.

So often in this business, people like me look for wins and losses, trends, statistics and all things quantifiable. It helps us wrap our heads around what we see and make sense of it all. But we often fail to appreciate the chemistry or the camaraderie that develops behind closed doors.

Needless to say, these seniors have the chemistry, camaraderie and everything else needed to win a championship — and nothing they do in the next two weeks will surprise me.

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