With a quick-strike offense, Lowell made it a quick run in the playoffs for Lakeview as the Spartans were eliminated on the first night of the postseason.
Lowell defeated Lakeview, 49-6, in a Division 2 first-round playoff game at Lowell on Friday. Lowell improves to 9-1 and will play the winner of Portage Central and Byron Center in the second round.
With a game time set for 7 p.m., Lowell came out in a no-huddle offense and led 7-0 by the time there was 7:02 p.m. on the watches of the people getting ready to sit in the stands, and the Red Arrows didn’t slow down from there.
“They are an uptempo football team, a great program that can score quick, and we knew that coming in,” Lakeview coach Matt Miller said. “We knew what we were coming up aganst, it is a monster program in Lowell. They are everything their reputation says, they are strong, physical and fast.
“But I think we battled to the end, proud of our kids, they played them hard to the end.”
Lowell opened the scoring with a quick six-play drive, as Max Dean started it with a 40-yard run on the first play from scrimmage for the Red Arrows. And then Dean ended the drive with a touchdown run from a yard out to make it 7-0 with 9:56 still on the clock
On its next possession, Lowell went nine plays and 72 yards, scoring on a 10-yard quarterback keeper by Ryan Stevens to give the home team a 14-0 lead with 3:43 left in the first period.
Lowell opened the second quarter with a short field after a fumble snap on a Lakeview punt. The Red Arrows went 20 yards on four plays before Dean scored from five yards out to make it 21-0 with 11:29 left in the half.
“We have a lot of intelligent kids, a lot of smart kids and that allows up to play that up-tempo offense and we use that to our advantage,” Lowell coach Noel Dean said.
Lakeview would get on the board after that as quarterback Skyler Nichols made something happen for the Spartans. Nichols broke free for a 55-yard run after the Spartans were pinned deep to get the ball past midfield. Nichols then scored on a 21-yard quarterback keeper to allow the Spartans to cut the lead to 21-6.
However, Lowell didn’t relax as the Red Arrows would score twice more before halftime. Lowell’s Stevens hit Alex Anschutz on a 45-yard touchdown pass to make it 28-6. Then just before intermission, Lowell’s Derek Massey scored from seven yards out to give the Red Arrows a 35-6 advantage at halftime.
“We hoped to stop them early and slow them down, but nobody stops Lowell. Just look at their scores on the season, they score 40 points every game,” Miller said. “You have to play perfect agaist them. Hats off to them, they are a great program and we’ll see how far they go in the playoffs.”
On top of Lowell’s high-power, quick-strike offense, the Red Arrows were putting nine and 10 players in the box on defense to stop Lakeview’s strong running game. The strategy worked much of the contest as the Spartans’ running backs were held to 57 yards in the first half.
“They looked to stop our run,” Miller said. “They are a big, physical team and we had a hard time running against them tonight.”
Lowell opened the second half with a 67-yard touchdown run by Stevens to make it 42-6. The Red Arrows finished the scoring with a late 2-yard touchdown run by backup QB David Kruse.
Nichols, a three-year starter, led Lakeview with 64 yards rushing from his quarterback spot as senior running back Dre’On Kemp had 60 yards on 11 carries.
Lakeview ends the season at 6-4 as the Spartans senior group ends a string of making the playoff four straight years, a first for the school.
“I’m proud of our seniors. They have done so much for Lakeview football. I hope our community appreciates all that our senior class has done,” Miller said. “This senior group has done things in terms of success at this school that no other group has done. And now I’m going to tell our younger guys they have a lot of work to do to continue that success or do even better.”