By John Jarvi
Local Sports Journal

SPRING LAKE — The Spring Lake Lakers turned their offense loose Friday night and came away with a playoff-clinching 56-27 football victory over the Shelby Tigers at Thomas Grabinski Field.

The victory pushed Spring Lake’s record to 6-3 and assured the Lakers of a spot in the post-season Michigan High School Athletic Association playoffs. The playoff field will be announced Sunday night.Shoreline football instory art

Shelby outgained Spring Lake 435 yards to 333 thanks to some long scoring plays, but the Lakers slashed their way to 50 points in the first half alone.

“We’ve started to peak at the right time,” said Jerry Rabideau, the Spring Lake coach. “That was the best first half of football I’ve seen here in a long time.

“This is a great way to end the (regular) season. Our kids played smart, and all of our guys got a chance to play.”

Spring Lake scored the first 14 points of the game and kept on going. Shelby trimmed the lead to 14-7 and later 28-13, but Spring Lake ran off 22 points in a row in taking a 50-19 halftime lead.

The Lakers thrived on big plays offensively. Spring Lake scored on runs of six and four yards on its first two possessions and then added more touchdowns on a 50-yard pass, a 15-yard run, an 85-yard kickoff return and then passes of 25 and 21 yards.

Shelby, 2-7 for the season, also had some big scoring plays, but it wasn’t nearly enough. The Tigers got a 61-yard run for a touchdown by Juan Cavazos, and scoring passes of 81 and 75 yards from Gavin Porter to Kris Josephson.

Porter connected on nine of 20 passes for 301 yards and the three touchdowns, but he also threw a pass interception, one of three by Shelby. The Tigers finished the game with four turnovers. Shelby passed for 301 yards and rushed for 134 yards in 25 carries.

Spring Lake spread its offensive power around. Jakob Frederick had 86 yards on eight carries and had touchdown runs of four and 15 yards. Quarterback Mark Williamson connected on all five of his passes with three going for touchdowns.

Nate Batts had two pass receptions for 71 yards. He had one touchdown on a pass covering 25 yards and added another on a running play. The other Laker touchdown passes went to Noah Novakoski covering 50 yards and to Antonio Reeves for a 21-yard score.

Batts, Novakoski and Josef Hissom all had pass interceptions for Spring Lake.

The victory boosted Rabideau’s career record to 105-54, including playoff games, since he became head coach in 1999. He’s had 11 winning seasons in a row.

Spring Lake will be looking for its first playoff win since 2001 when it plays its first-round game. The Lakers have dropped 10 playoff games in a row since that last victory in 2001.