Early season loss will benefit Lakers later

GVL/ Brady Frederickson
Junior Wide Receiver Charles Johnson

Brady Fredericksen

GVL/ Brady Frederickson Junior Wide Receiver Charles Johnson

Brady Fredericksen

The great Penn State football coach Joe Paterno once said, “You need to play with supreme confidence, or else you’ll lose again, and then losing becomes a habit.”

It’s true – losing does become a habit – but for the Grand Valley State University football team, losing has never been a common occurrence.

Saturday’s 34-31 loss at Hillsdale College showed that these Lakers aren’t invincible; but no team is.

I don’t think these Lakers are down for the count – I actually think they’re going to be better because of Saturday’s game.

“I don’t think a loss is ever a good thing, but we’re going to come back on Monday and we’re going to get better,” said sophomore quarterback Heath Parling. “I don’t know how were going to do it, but we’re going to find a way to get it done – I have confidence in our team.”

That confidence will keep the Lakers in the playoff hunt all season. This isn’t like the Division I level, where every team and their mother gets into the postseason bowl race – this is a playoff system where only 16 teams in all of Division II make it.

One loss isn’t damning, but more losses will be. The Lakers have lost a regular season game in each of the last three seasons, including two against Hillsdale. The Chargers are a good team, and really, they’ve developed into the unofficial rival for GVSU on the football field.

The teams know each other well, and on Saturday Hillsdale out-executing the Lakers, plain and simple. They had to use two quarterbacks, a considerably bottled up running game and, because of a couple of big plays, upset GVSU.

It’s that kind of situational execution that wins games. GVSU head coach Matt Mitchell knows that, and the seniors on this team know that.

The offense needs to improve, and that improvement is going to start with the running game. Juniors Norman Shuford and Hersey Jackson have had moments early in the season, but they couldn’t put the ball in the end zone late against Hillsdale.

Shuford has shown ability in the open field, but the Lakers need Jackson to be able to compliment him and move the pile. He had a moment late in Saturday’s game where he carried at least three Hillsdale defenders nine yards to the one-yard line.

Trailing, the Lakers failed to punch it in and settled for three point lead after a field goal.

Luckily, these are the little things, the technical aspects of the game that can be reworked in practice.

These Lakers, young and old, have shown that they care and have confidence. Now they just need to show they can put it all together on the field.

Easier said than done.

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