LSJ preview: Spring Lake Lakers hoping that history repeats itself

Last month, the Local Sports Journal published a 24-page high school football preview section. Here is the preview story on the Spring Lake Lakers. If you would like to purchase a copy of the football section, send an email to sports@localsportsjournal.com
By Dave Tomczak
Local Sports Journal
It is going to be a historic season for the Spring Lake football program this year – on the field and off.
The Lakers are celebrating 50 years of football, bringing back former players all season long, including some from the first Spring Lake team.

Cody Berkobien is a two-way starter for the Lakers. He’s a hard runner from the fullback position and a hard-hitting linebacker. Photo by Cole Myhre.

On the field, Spring Lake will be vying for a piece of its fourth consecutive Lakes 8 Conference title, the first time since the mid-80s that the team has accomplished that.
So you could say expectations for this year’s squad are high.
“Yeah, there’s a little bit of pressure,” Lakers coach Jerry Rabideau said. “(But) the kids know it and what a great opportunity to be part of the 50th Anniversary. We just have to take things week-by-week, game-by-game, and hopefully, we prevail.”
Spring Lake returns just eight starters from last year’s team that finished 6-4 overall and 6-1 in the Lakes 8 Conference.
One of the players the team will rely on is linebacker and fullback, Cody Berkobien.
The senior will lead a defense that may not be the most intimidating, but has plenty of speed that will be quick to the ball. And on offense, it should be more of the same.
“Our backfield has a lot of athletes,” Berkobien said. “Despite our size, we’ll be as good or better than last year.”
At 5-11, 195 pounds, Berkobien has done most of his damage from his linebacking position while getting a few carries on the offensive side of the ball.
But this season, the coaching staff thought it would be best if the senior saw the ball more often, and Rabideau isn’t shy about what he thinks Berkobien can do.
“I expect 1,000 yards rushing from him this season,” the coach said. “He’s a good kid and a great athlete. (And) he’s going to be as fine a player in this league as has ever played.”
For Berkobien, the challenge isn’t to lead the league in the statistics department but to lead his team back to the top of the conference standings.
“It’s exciting, but there’s pressure too,” he said. “Anything less than another conference championship will be a disappointment, and it being my senior year, I have to make sure that happens.”
While there is a commitment to let Berkobien run wild out of the backfield, Spring Lake’s offense will also look to attack through the air more often, and that task will fall on a couple of players.
Senior Jake Chittendean and sophomore Mark Williamson are in line for the quarterback job with Chittendean looking to be the opening-game starter.
“I have two really good quarterbacks, and I’m going have to find one to play,” Rabideau said. “(Jake) has great speed and quickness, and Mark is very good at running the ball. He’s a big boy and very athletic.”
With a schedule that begins with a home game against Coopersville, then a road game at Mona Shores before the conference opener against Fruitport, Rabideau said he hopes his team is ready to go.
“It’s an interesting schedule. I don’t think Spring Lake and Mona Shores ever played before,” the coach said. “We’re not a big team; we’re going to be small and very athletic with a lot of team speed.”
If the Lakers are set at quarterback come the season’s start, with their team speed and leadership of Berkobien on both sides of the ball, history may repeat itself in Spring Lake this year.

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