MILLBURY - Lake's football team has been competitive in the Suburban Lakes League and Northern Buckeye Conference the last five seasons.
|Bob Olwin, Lake's new football coach. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
The Flyers are looking to take the next step and compete for league championships and state playoff berths under first-year coach Bob Olwin.
They were 21-29 overall and 12-21 in league during those five seasons, but were 0-10 against Eastwood and Genoa - which have combined to win or tie for the last 10 SLL and NBC championships.
Although Lake is 18-12 overall and 11-8 in league play the last three seasons, none of the wins were against a team with a winning record.
Lake is 0-10 against Eastwood and Genoa the last five seasons, being out-scored 231-27 by Eastwood and 259-20 by Genoa.
"To beat Eastwood and Genoa, it'll take the strongest commitment ever made to a program," said Olwin, who comes to Lake after four seasons at Versailles where he was 23-19 overall.
Last season, Versailles was 9-3 overall and second in the ultra-competitive Midwest Athletic Conference. The Tigers advanced to the second round of the state playoffs, losing to state runnerup Coldwater.
"You have to be disciplined in everything you do, you have to out-work your opponents, your fundamentals have to be outstanding, you have to execute well and eliminate all of your mistakes," Olwin said. "Good teams like Eastwood and Genoa take advantage of those mistakes, no matter how small they might be."
The Flyers have had 50 players at their summer workouts. They've had three workouts and a handful of weightlifting sessions so far.
"They're trying to work as hard as they can, and we've put together a young, energetic staff that is hard-working and driven," Olwin said. "The main thing this summer is to teach the kids my persona, my competitiveness, my work ethic. Hopefully, that carries over to them and step-by-step, building the program to take it to another level that they haven't been to before."
Prior to Versailles, he was 104-33 in 13 seasons at Fairview where he won seven Green Meadows Conference titles and earned five state playoff berths.
"They've been receptive to what we're trying to do," Olwin said. "They're kind of walking on egg shells right now, trying to figure me out, knowing how they can behave and how they can react, and where I'm coming from."
Olwin eventually hopes to have 80 players on the team each season.
"It's been a learning process," Olwin said. "They're trying to learn me and I'm trying to learn them. We've been talking to kids about those things after each workout, more than you might in an established program. But that's also typical when you go into a new program, you have to talk about those things. I like rebuilding programs and the challenge that presents."
Olwin has been a head coach for 30 seasons, winning 10 league titles and advancing to the state playoffs seven times. He also plans on working with Lake's junior high and youth football programs.
"League titles, playoff berths, those are always your goals and those goals never change," Olwin said. "No team ever wants to go 0-10. There are records to be broken. You get the right combination of kids, the right work ethic, the right mental outlook on competition and you can achieve greatly and memories that last a lifetime."
The Flyer offense will run the spread, used by Olwin since 2001.
"We feel pretty comfortable with it," Olwin said. "It could be 50-50 between the run and the pass, or it could be 80-20 pass. We feel pretty comfortable either way. We have to evaluate our talent and what's best for the kids and put the kids in the best possible positions to be successful."
Lake returns sophomore quarterback Jared Rettig, who completed 84-of-151 passes for 1,519 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. He's a linebacker on defense.
"He's a pretty energetic kid," Olwin said. "He's driven to be good. He has some skills. He competes very well. He's pretty impressive on defense, as well."
Lake also returns senior receiver Ben Swartz, who caught 32 passes for 845 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.
The Flyers also have senior running back Marquise Pitts, a transfer from Eastwood.
Pitts was a first-team All-league running back as a sophomore at Eastwood when he rushed for 1,011 yards and scored 10 touchdowns. He ran for 588 yards and scored seven touchdowns in three games at Eastwood last season.
"Our skill position players have the potential to be good," Olwin said. "But it doesn't matter if you have Aaron Rodgers back there, if you can't block for them. They can't throw from their backs. It's the consummate team game, defense, offense, special teams, 11 guys doing their job."
Lake will run a 5-3 defense.
"To win the league, you have to beat Eastwood and Genoa, and they run the ball," Olwin said. "You have to be able to stop the run. You've got to have seven monsters or eight in the box, and we chose eight in the box."