By Craig Beilfuss

The Spring Lake Lakers will be looking to stay undefeated when they host Holland Christian’s Maroons in an OK Blue Conference opener on Friday night.

The Lakers are coming off a solid performance against Zeeland East that resulted in a 56-21 victory. The win was what Spring Lake needed after taking a Week-1 forfeit from Orchard View, which could not field a team.

 Holland Christian comes in at 1-1.

Spring Lake football Coach Dan Start.

Spring Lake has not won an OK Blue conference championship since joining the conference in 2016. Its last title was a Lakes 8 championship in 2013.

Spring Lake head coach, Dan Start, hopes to change that drought for his school this year.

Start graduated from Grandville High School in 2003, where he starred in football, baseball and basketball. In fact, his first coaching job was at his alma mater. He also had stops at Otsego, went back to Grandville, headed south to Florida to lead at Boynton Beach and Jupiter high schools.

The government teacher and Grand Valley University graduate, took over as the Lakers’ head coach in 2016.

“Our goal is to win each week,” said Start. “If we can do that, we hope to earn a spot in the playoffs. We have been a playoff team for the past three years, won our first playoff game in two decades last season and our goal this year is to go further.”

So what is the message to his Laker squad Friday evening?

“We have to be focused through the windshield and not in the rear view mirror as we move week to week,” said Start. “We are focused on taking care of this week first and foremost. Holland Christian has some playmakers and has shown that they can score in a hurry. We have to be ready on defense.

Spring Lake’s Christian Folkert looks back at trailing defenders during the Lakers’ win over Zeeland East.

“On the offensive side of the ball, we have to continue to hone in our efforts and not get comfortable with our past performances,” Start said.

Overall, Start was pleased with last week’s performance.

“The team played well on both sides of the ball,” said Start, pointing out it was a true “team” win. “Everyone sees the big stat lines by the offensive skill players, but our offensive line was dominant from the first snap to the last whistle. The defense was a total team effort with everyone doing their 1/11th,” said Start.

Several players have stood out to the coaching staff, including Christian Folkert.

“He plays fast and physical on both sides of the ball,” said Start about Folker who racked up 211 yards rushing and had four touchdowns. “Hunter and Travis Throop have been physically dominant on both sides of the ball, while Alex Lee and RJ Lisman have been playmakers on defense. Jackson Core has shown he can keep defenses honest with his arm.”

The Laker coach knows there is room for improvement, however, last weeke’s win is a confidence booster.

“It is great for us to get off to a good start” Start said. “We just have to continue to grow and build momentum as the season progresses. We just need to continue to get better each day. We know our opponents are getting better, so we have to match or exceed their efforts.

“We have a tremendous conference, so as we enter conference play, we will need to be ready for a battle each week,” said Start.

Like other school districts in West Michigan, fan enthusiasm at Spring Lake is at a high for the return of a normal football season.

“Fans are excited to be back out,” Start said. “We had a big crowd this past week and we are excited to see what this week looks like.”