By Ken DeLaat
Lakeview 49 White Cloud 18
There is no quit in the White Cloud football team vocabulary.
You can take that one to the bank.
This is a team that came into Friday’s game having yet to score this season. A team that has struggled through two mistake-laden contests losing both of them by lopsided scores. A team that would have every reason to doubt themselves and merely strive to somehow get through the season.
But that is not this team.
Playing their first home game the Indians saw a horde of fans came out to support their boys.They stood for the fight song and chanted along with the substantial number of cheerleaders on the sidelines.The crowd of family friends and fans were ready to see their team perform in the home opener.
And despite the final score, despite a rather dismal first half, and despite a few naysayers who as always are eager to point out what (and who) is wrong…..?
Their team did not disappoint.
This is a team thin on players but huge on heart.
It is a team made up of young men who will prevail. Who will likely succeed in life and who will hopefully carry what they are showing on that field throughout their lives.
I took a seat in the booth as the inimitable Jim Jones opened the season as he has done for many years announcing the beginning of the home football season to a cheering crowd and after a rousing edition of the National Anthem by a spirited White Cloud Band the game got underway.
Well, for Lakeview it got underway.
The Wildcats scored twice before the Indian defense got on the field it seemed, as less than 3 minutes into the game the visitors held a 13-0 lead. After another 3 and out by the hosts the Wildcats, led by their double threat quarterback Jacob Cole, put together a more sustained drive and with a 2 point conversion it was 21-0.
The next possession the Indians began to show a little life when Kevin Arnold hit Eric Plotts for the team’s first positive yardage and a first down.
Then the next play a fumble yielded the ball back to the Wildcats just before the end of the quarter and Lakeview used the first play of the second to make it 28-0
By halftime the Cats had found paydirt twice more and the teams headed to intermission with the Cloud still not on the scoreboard this season and the Silver contending visitors tallying 42 to make the second half a running clock.
Then midway through the third and down 49-0 Arnold dodged a couple of defenders who had been in his face all night and rifled a pass to Plotts who scampered down the sidelines and gave White Cloud their first points of the year.
The crowd went crazy as did the sidelines. The place erupted as if their team had just clinched a trip to Ford Field. Players chest bumped high and low fived and patted their teammates on the back taking in what it was like to succeed if only briefly.
Then they went back to work.
They would score twice more both on passes as an inspired o-line, some rugged rushing yards from sophomore Alex Doke and a bit of effective scrambling gave Arnold some room to throw.
And throw he did, finding Derek Moore twice for scoring strikes to give the Indians 18 on the night.
On defense the squad that could not find a way to stop the Wildcats in the first half slowed them down and led by Tucker Kooman kept them at bay enough to give their offense some time on the field.
Perhaps there were a lot of players on the visiting side who were rested in the second half giving some time to players who might not regularly take the field. Lakeview may be looking to next week when the always tough Mohawks of Morley comes to town.
But there were plenty of numbers on the Lakeview side that were the same ones on the field throughout the first half and those three scores and the second half defensive play were the result of a resolute group of young men who were battling on their home turf in front of their fans.
And they did themselves proud.
White Cloud has made it to the playoffs just twice, the last time in 2003. In 2010 they could not even field a team. Including this, the 7th season since the year without football the team has won a total of 6 games in that span including wins over two teams currently playing in the 8-player league.
And things aren’t going to get any easier. Next week Silver powerhouse and playoff contender Kent City rolls into town with a wicked offense and a stifling defense.The Indians will be going at it with a team loaded with talent and numbers. A team that has burned past their first 3 opponents and are on a roll to continue that pattern in the Cloud.
But these players won’t be backing down and they most certainly will not quit.
The fans here remain loyal and they turn out for games, the band has become outstanding and is a true source of school pride, the field with a new track around it is looking good….
And these players are building a legacy that goes far beyond the W’s and L’s in the standings.
They’re showing the kind of resilience, dedication and pride in themselves and their teammates that will serve them well through the years.
In doing so they have earned my utmost respect.
Nice job gentlemen.