A few things stood out on the Lake football team’s 2012 game films for Mark Emans when he was hired to be the Flyers’ new head coach a few months ago.
One facet of the game that Lake was lacking in was defense. The Flyers allowed 45 points a game while trudging through a mediocre 4-6 season. The other thing that was obvious was Lake’s rushing attack - as in, the Flyers didn’t have one.
“We ran for more yards last week than they had all last year,” said Emans, whose team rushed for 251 yards in its 21-0 season opening win over Fremont St. Joseph Central Catholic.
Looking back on last season, Emans said it was obvious the Flyers were too “pass-happy.” Quarterback Jared Rettig, now a junior, threw for 2,838 yards and 32 touchdowns while completing 63 percent of his passes, but he never had a running back in the backfield to provide a run-pass threat.
|Lake junior running back Marcel Bryan looks for yardage in the
Flyer's 21-0 opening game victory over visiting Fremont St.
Joseph Central Catholic. (Press phot by Heather St. John/
“Throwing the ball is a nice thing,” Emans said, “but you have to be able to run the ball on occasion and be a little more balanced. That’s one thing they lacked last year. When you lack that balance, you lack that aggressiveness. We’re trying to be a little more ball control and balanced and a little more aggressive. Ball control, eating up the clock a little and shortening up the game, so to speak, those were all things we worked on.”
Rettig and the Flyers threw for just 123 yards in the win over St. Joe, which returned the bulk of last year’s 10-2 team. Lake’s second game of the season is at Northwood on Friday.
The Flyers now utilize at least one back in the backfield, and they had a 60-40 run-pass ratio against St. Joe.
“In our scrimmages we were about 50-50,” Emans said. “We feel we have to run the ball to take some of the pressure off Jared, so defenses can’t just gear up and blitz to stop the pass. We have to be able to run the ball. We’ve done a pretty decent job so far. It’s a good start.”
Emans said the team picked up the new offense very quickly in the offseason, but the Flyers still need work in certain areas, such as run blocking.
“We’re working on the (blocking) sled and chutes to keep (the linemen) low,” the coach said. “It’s a work in progress. We’re a year or two away from getting to where I’d like to be as far as offensive line play. We want them to be more physical and run block better. We still have some work to do.”
Senior Nick Walsh had a 77-yard touchdown run and carried six times for 162 yards in the win over St. Joe. Walsh, however, isn’t even the Flyers’ featured back, according to Emans.
“He’s really our third back in our offense,” Emans said. “He just happened to break a couple of real nice long runs. (Junior) Marcel Bryan and Branden Shorts, a sophomore, are our two featured backs. Nick is our wingback and doesn’t get to carry it a whole lot. When he does get to carry it, he does a great job. Branden had 13 caries for 50-some yards and Marcel had 10 carries for about 47 yards. We want to spread it all around.”
Emans used the rushing attack with great success during his coaching tenure at Wauseon. He said the goal for his teams there was to average between 250-300 rushing yards per game.
“We were very run-oriented at Wauseon,” Emans said. “We didn’t have the nice quality quarterback we have with Jared. We were very similar to Mike Vicars’ teams when he was at Genoa and at Delta.”
Emans gave Lake’s offensive line a B-minus grade in its effort against St. Joe, but he said he was pleased with the line’s aggressiveness.
“There are always things we can work on,” he said. “We made some mistakes. We had some third-and-shorts we didn’t convert, but overall it was a very nice win for us.”