COTTONWOOD - Losing all eight of its games a year ago, getting outscored by an average of 45.2 points per game and scoring just 10 points in the 2011 season, it was tough for players on the Lakeview football team to get excited to play on Friday nights.
"I think towards the end of last year, no one wanted to play the games," said Lakers senior running back/defensive back Derek Larsen. "They just wanted the season over with. After a few weeks and a few big losses, it didn't like we were going to get anywhere, so everyone put their head down and we couldn't move on."
But after taking a beating on the field in 2011, Lakeview has licked its wounds and looks to make some headway on retooling the Lakers' football program.
Photo by Joe Brown
Lakeview sophomore quarterback Taylor Pickthorn lets loose with a pass during practice Tuesday in Cottonwood. Pickthorn is slated to be the Lakers’ starting quarterback this fall, hoping to improve an offense that put up just 10 points in 2011.
Starting his third season as head coach, John Sterner said that while 2011 was tough, his team was able to take away some extra motivation and make a concentrated effort to get into the weight room.
"Surprisingly, (last year) wasn't as tough as a guy would think," Sterner said. "... I had 13-to-20 kids consistently coming into the weight room this winter, which is huge for us. They've been lifting since November.
"The hard part was they got beat up, and some of them got beat up to the point that they didn't want to come back out because they got hurt and nervous," Sterner added. "That was the most difficult thing, convincing them, 'Hey, you were against some big kids last year and didn't have a choice. This year, you'll be a year older."
2011 Record: 0-8
Little Sioux Conference Finish: 11th (0-7)
51-0 loss to Fulda
(Did not qualify for playoffs)
Points Allowed/Game: 46.5
Key Losses:?LB Eric Nordmeyer, RB Daniel Bakker
Key Returners: DL Steve Timm, DB/RB Derek Larsen
And throughout the offseason, the players have seen a closer group on the field that is motivated to get better.
"I think the attitude has really flipped," said senior lineman Spencer Larsen. "We're taking the negatives and turning them into positives. We might lose the first game, but that's going to make us stronger for the second (game). ... I know that they kids in the weight room (this offseason) became really close."
After playing a plethora of freshmen in 2011, the lost looks in the Lakers' huddles have turned into players that know the rigors of the varsity game, which was an encouraging sign for Sterner and the coaching staff. On offense, Lakeview returns four offensive lineman, as well as running backs Derek Larsen, Cody St. Aubin, Garrett Wee, and quarterback Taylor Pickthorn.
"So far already (on Tuesday), we're about a week ahead of where we were last year, maybe even further," Sterner said. "The first two groups are receptive to what they should do. Their intensity is up from last year and there's better leadership on this year's squad."
The Lakers' positivity will be challenged right away in 2012 when the team opens at Dawson-Boyd to face the defending Class A state champions. But Sterner's hope is that his team can pull off a positive feat or two, then have something to build upon for the rest of the season.
If Lakeview can get some things to roll its way, Friday nights will be a lot more appealing to the players.
Said Derek Larsen, "This year, we have to get excited to play again and get people pumped to play on Fridays."