Lake has high hopes for new decade

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By Keno Sultan

The Suburbanite



2010 Lake Blue Streaks

They have not qualified for the playoffs since the 2007 season, when they finished a 7-4 campaign with a hurtful 33-21 loss to eventual Division II state finalist Louisville.

With the book closed on the 2000 decade, the Lake football program starts another decade of football with nine Division I opponents, multiple new faces, one former standout quarterback and two other new assistant coaches.

Of course, the grandfather of the Federal League football coaches is back for his 21st season as the patriarch of the Blue Streaks football program. And what a way to ring in the new decade according to head football coach Jeff Durbin.

Durbin has committed more time to the program now after retiring as Lake Middle School principal, where he presided over students from the sixth to the eighth grade for 15 years.

This year's team expects to be one that will compete as always according to Lake standards. Their main asset will be the running game, which will be led by three-year starter Jim Luther. Luther has only become stronger since his sophomore year and he is already in peak form. An asset that will help Lake is that Luther gets stronger as the game goes on and that will be pivotal over the course of 10 games.

“Jimmy is very talented and he runs tough. He is able to get between the blocks and he goes 100 percent,” Durbin said. “We just need to find the offensive linemen up front who can make those holes happen. We are going to have Sean Hemlich, Ryan Roth and Justice Karmie on the line. We have an opportunity to be a strong offensive line.”

A position that will be under intense scrutiny for the first time will be the quarterback position. With T.J. Viscuso and Ryan Christiansen holding down the fort, the position was in good hands. Now with Christiansen having graduated, three players are in the running for the position of running the offense coordinated by Dan DeGeorge.

Logan Wartman, Mason Stephens, and Jon Spohn are the three quarterbacks who will be responsible for leading the Lake offense to scores this season. Also, the fact that each of them will not have a receiver in Derek Sitzlar to throw to will make this challenging.
Durbin believes that will add to the flavor of the contest.

“We will miss Ryan. He was a quarterback who took care of the ball real well. We have to do what it takes to have the best team out there,” Durbin said.

Defensively, Lake will not have the same depth as they have had in the past. Not that it will make a difference largely in part to the competitive spirit of the players who will be coached by defensive coordinator Steve Lippe, but Durbin wants to be able to see his team be able to get off the field by creating turnovers or forcing three-and-out possessions.

The one thing Durbin does not want to do is have too many players having to go two ways. That may be the difference between a game won or lost, especially if it comes down to a late-game situation as last year's game against GlenOak did, in a game Lake needed to salvage to stay alive in the league chase.

“We need to stay healthy as we are not deep on defense. We have to develop that depth and be able to have our offensive and defensive linemen get off the field. Playing too many two-way players can be a disadvantage to the schedule that we have,” he said.

Last year, the Blue Streaks were nearly on the doorstep of a potential share of a league title. However against GlenOak, the Eagles used four long runs in two minutes, punctuated with a Brionte Dunn touchdown run to eliminate Lake from the title race with two weeks left in the season with a 21-14 win. Lake had a chance to take a 21-7 lead right before halftime and possibly even a 28-7 lead but missed passes intended for touchdowns in the second quarter left the door open for the Eagles to swoop back and steal away Lake's title hopes.

GlenOak is one of nine Division I teams who the Blue Streaks will challenge on the schedule and one of seven league teams Lake will face. It will be important for the Blue Streaks to have a solid first half of the season to put them in position to finish the second half strong and once again return to the Ohio Division II state football playoffs for the first time in three years.

“We have to be on top of our game. Hopefully we can put it together and win games this year,” Durbin said.

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