FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Lakers look to rebound in home opener

Bear Lake quarterback Travis Johnson stiff-arms a would-be tackler during Bear Lake’s 61-20 loss last Friday night. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

Bear Lake quarterback Travis Johnson stiff-arms a would-be tackler during Bear Lake’s 61-20 loss last Friday night. (Brian Fogg/News Advocate)

Week one didn’t go quite as planned for the still-new Bear Lake football program, but after getting their feet wet the team is ready to take another step this week against Baldwin.

The Lakers had some moments in week one against Suttons Bay, but eventually fell 61-20.

Bear Lake scored first, and was in the game for most of the first half, but a couple of miscues blew the game wide open in quarter. Despite that, Laker head coach John Prokes was pleased with how the guys battled, many of whom were playing their first football game ever.

Prokes is glad that the novelty of the first game in school history is gone, and now the team can focus on winning football games.

“We said this is over now. The novelty of history and the first game ever for Bear Lake football is nice, but it’s over,” he said. “Now we’re just like every other team. We’re established, so now let’s just go out there and play this game.”

Against the Norsemen the team began to wear late and the score got away from them a little bit. 12 Lakers played their first career game on that night, and for the players the opener is being used as a learning experience.

“I think the main thing is minimizing our mistakes,” Prokes said.

“Looking at the film Suttons Bay is a good football team. If you make mistakes a good team is going to take advantage of that. We made too many mistakes and they were able to take advantage of those. Our focus this week is to get our timing down and get our execution down. Let’s not panic. Let’s do what we do well and work on that. The focus this week is to make sure everybody understands their roles.”

This week they’ll play Baldwin, a team that won 70-0 in week one against Grand Traverse Academy, a team that is 6-56 all-time.

The Panthers have about 20 players in their program, but are trying to have a junior varsity team this season. They should have around 10 players come Friday if they don’t have a junior varsity game schedule.

Last week Baldwin was able to get to the outside on GTA and the game spiraled out of control from there for the Mustangs. Bear Lake hopes to keep their athletes contained inside and to managed their size up front.

“I don’t look too much at the deficiencies of GTA. I look at the strengths of Baldwin,” Prokes said. “You can see in the film that they have size. That’s going to be a force on the line for us. The other challenge that we’re going to have is to contain their speed on the outside. It seems like they had a lot of success getting to the outside on GTA.”

Since the Panthers may only have 10 players come kickoff, Prokes wants his guys to ignore their size early in hopes of wearing them down later in the affair. He hopes his team can avoid the early mistakes that could put a game out of reach with the hopes of being the stronger team at the end.

“I’ve already been talking to the kids about when you’re going to get there and look at these guys, they’ll be huge, but if you’re intimidated by that then the game is over,” he said.

“You have to recognize that if they’re big then they are not going to move as quick. You have to work on technique to get proper leverage on them. That has its weaknesses. We can wear them out because they only have 10 guys. We have to test that and find out. That’s the challenge we face this week.”

Kickoff for the first home game in Bear Lake history will be Friday at 7 p.m. at Brethren High School.

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Posted by Brian Fogg

Brian is the sports writer for the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3110 or bfogg@pioneergroup.com.

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