GV football faces first test in week one on and off the field


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Brian Bloom, Staff Writer

After a disappointing playoff exit against a bitter rival and eventual national champion, the Grand Valley State University men’s football team came into the offseason motivated by the previous second-round loss against Ferris State University.

Unable to defeat the Bulldogs in both the regular season (28-35) and falling apart in the semifinals 20-54, the Lakers strive to take their losses and turn them into lessons.

“Obviously last season didn’t finish the way we wanted it to,” junior quarterback Cade Peterson said. “We have to take it as a lesson, learn from it and look to improve this season. That’s the only way we should be looking at it.”

As the starting quarterback since the start of the 2021 season, Peterson has led the Lakers’ offense and is looking to improve upon last season. In DII action, the team finished 26th in total yards (4,940), 11th in yards per play (6.6), 14th in rushing yards per game (219.8) and 4th in yards per rush (5.9). 

Peterson noted that limiting turnovers and being consistent are crucial to success on the offensive side of the ball.

“Be consistent performers on offense, try to limit our turnovers in big games and go and attack things just like we do week in and week out,” Peterson said. “Put in the preparation every day of the week and go out and get the job done on Saturday. We have a lot of guys that are working hard and the talent is there.”

On the defensive side of the football, junior linebacker Abe Swanson leads a very talented unit that boasts one of the better defenses in all of DII.

“Defensively, my goal is obviously to make improvements based on previous years,” Swanson said. “We want to get back to being the most prominent defense in Division II, (the) most prominent defense in all of college football. We want to have the best efficiency out there when we’re on the field.”

The Lakers’ defense finished 19th overall last season in yards allowed per game (281), 27th in total yards allowed (3,377), 23rd in scoring defense that allowed 18 points per game and even putting points up on the scoreboard by themselves, scoring three defensive touchdowns.

Although most teams can relate to the shared struggle of how to defeat their opponents, this year’s Laker roster is developing a new sense of identity with a predominantly younger core as opposed to what the program has been accustomed to in previous seasons.

“Back in my day (as an underclassman), it was mostly upperclassmen leading the charge,” Swanson said. “Everyone was listening to those prominent guys… (The younger guys) speak up and believe in (the culture), the older guys will get checked by the younger guys and the wheels are turning from there.”

While the team has gone through changes in personnel, the main goal for the team remains the same: capturing the national championship. To accomplish this, Swanson believes that the team has to win every single day, mentioning his personal goals to help contribute to that success.

“To just go 1-0 every week, everyday actually,” Swanson said. “If you look at the bigger picture, you’re going to lose sight of the smaller picture, and that’s winning every game, winning every day.” 

Head coach Matt Mitchell said he is impressed by his players’ bond and work ethic throughout the offseason as the team prepares to face No. 4 Colorado School of Mines on the Lakers’ home turf. 

“The sense of brotherhood and work ethic throughout the offseason in summer camps and fall camp has been great,” Mitchell said.

A game of this caliber right at the beginning of the season could have major playoff implications at the end of the season, a possibility that Mitchell is aware of as he said starting the season 1-0 will require the best from his team. 

“Our objective is to try to do our very best to perform and perform well every single game of the season,” Mitchell said.

Senior wide receiver Jacob Miller stated that in order to come out victorious, the team needs to execute and know their assignments in week one.

“We just need to come out and be us, be consistent, limit turnovers and run our offense,” Miller said. “When it comes to running our offense, just executing the game plan, having no turnovers, no missed assignments and just doing our job on the field.”

The Lakers will begin their 2022 campaign in white-out fashion at home on Thursday, Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. at Lubbers Stadium.