If you've heard folks buzzing about the renaissance of the Lake Flyers football team in recent years, you've heard all about their high-octane spread offense, which starts with second team All-Northern Buckeye
The junior signal caller has already passed his way to a school-record 2,838 yards on 176 of 279 pass attempts, and 32 touchdowns alone in 2012.
It's also a fact that without capable pairs of hands at the other end of those passes, they'd fall to the turf incomplete.
Lake wide receivers Todd Walters and Adam Duncan, who already this surprising 5-0 season for the Flyers have hauled in 18 receptions, for an average of 17.6 yards, 318 total yards, and four touchdowns, and 15 catches, for 317 yards, and four scores respectively.
|Lake wide receiver Tim Duncan takes off during the Flyer's win over
Northwood. (Press photo by Heather St. John)
The speedster Duncan is routinely running a swift 4.6 40 these days, while Walters is clocking in somewhere around a 4.8.
Walters prefers the slant route, where he's made his bread-and-butter, while Duncan's favorite is the out-and-up, which is a perfect fit for his game-breaking speed.
"Todd runs great routes, he does a nice job of finding open spaces, and he has very soft hands, and does not grab at the ball," said first-year head coach Mark Emans, "He is deceivingly-fast for a big kid. And Adam, he's quick and fast, which sounds the same, but is actually very different. He runs the deep route well, and is also good on the short routes. They complement each other well."
All of which are reasons why these Flyers were undefeated and tied with Genoa atop the NBC, outscoring their opposition 253-60 heading into the Eastwood game Friday night. Of course, the Eagles may have had something to say about that at Freedom Field.
"The thing I love most about being a wide receiver is just getting to be a playmaker for this team," offers the 17-year-old Walters, a 6-foot-2, 180 pound split end.
Walters makes his living going over the middle on quick-hitting routes, which most often translates to two things. He is the guy keeping the chains moving and is he guy absorbing bone-rattling hits.
"Our offense has definitely undergone a huge change from last year," continues the junior, "because we really didn't run the ball too much in 2012, and I think that hurt us at times when the weather conditions were not in favor of a spread offense. This year I believe we have an exciting offense. This year on offense we have the balance to run a power running attack at times, and we've also got the skills players to air it out."
Duncan, a 5-10, 185 sophomore slot back, added, "This offense has changed a lot. From last year to this year, I think it's really opened up a lot under Coach Emans, and we seem to have more threats on offense now. I think we run and throw the ball equally well, and that can keep a defense guessing. The best part about being a receiver to me is I get to be a big part of this offense."
Duncan, 16, has emerged as more of the Flyers' deep-ball threat and has already gotten behind defenses with his top-end speed for a pair of touchdown catches of 40-plus yards.
"I think there are several tools you need to be a great wide receiver," chimes in Walters, "and No. 1, I think the biggest tool you need is just great route running. I think a receiver needs to run every route as hard as he can, and I think the attitude that any receiver, and really any athlete should have, is to play every play like it's their last out there. That's why I look up to Wes Welker (of the Denver Broncos) so much. He has that workhorse mentality as an undersized receiver. He doesn't let that stop him from going out there every Sunday and doing what he does best."
Duncan adds, "I think the things that make a good wide receiver are his footwork, his hands, and his mindset to just run good, crisp routes every time the ball is snapped and I think he should run his routes hard every time, even if he knows he's not going to be getting the football. A wide receiver I look up to would be Bernard Reedy of the Toledo Rockets. He's just such an exciting, explosive player for them, and he's so much fun to watch."
In the opener versus a usually-stingy Fremont St. Joseph Central Catholic defense, Walters and Duncan teamed up to help their Lake offense put up 374 total yards. Last year, St. Joe went 10-2 overall and 7-0 in Midland Athletic League play, and the Crimson Streaks have been to the state playoffs three of the past four seasons. Lake took them down 21-0.
In week two at Northwood during the "Battle for Lemoyne Road," the pair really exploded, to the tune of a six-yard TD reception, a thrilling 86-yard kickoff return for a score by Walters, and a 69-yard TD bomb hauled in by Duncan, who also booted eight extra points for Lake, on a night which saw the tandem account for 26 of the Flyers' 56 points in a convincing 56-20 win over a longtime backyard rival.
"My favorite TD would be my 69-yard touchdown catch versus Northwood, and this is my favorite because it was such a great ball from Jared, that landed right in my hands, and was our first TD connection of the year," offers Duncan, "and I just think Todd's strengths are his speed, and his height, and the fact that he's just a good overall leader."
Walters said, "My favorite catch of the year so far was a six-yard slant that went for a score against Northwood," shares Walters, "and Adam's just a great all-around receiver. I think his best attribute is his explosiveness, because that kid is straight-up fast! Plus, he's made a huge improvement in the mental aspect of the game from his freshman to sophomore year, and it really shows on Friday nights."
In a 55-6 game three shellacking over a young Ottawa Hills team, Rettig, Walters and Duncan pretty much stamped their names on the Flyer highlight reel, with the latter going off for a 47-yard TD reception, and an 89-yard kickoff return to get the scoring started. Walters caught a 23-yard scoring strike, and on defense even notched a pick-six of 28 yards.
In the week four dismantling of NBC rival Otsego, Duncan contributed 14 of Lake's 38 points, via a 24-yard touchdown catch, a 26-yard field goal, and five extra points in a 38-0 Flyer win.
Against NBC rival Woodmore, it was once again the junior Walters' night, who finished with 189 yards receiving and touchdown receptions of 76 and 69 yards in a 63-34 shootout in Elmore. Duncan also scored twice for the Flyers, once on a TD catch of 26 yards, and once on an eight-yard run.
There are plenty of other wide receivers in the Flyer corps.
"Collin Lloyd and Zak Greenlese are two great receivers we have who are key parts of our receiving corps," praises Walters, of the two junior pass catchers. "They can come in for a series or two each game, and perform at a high varsity level. I think we have great depth, and are a dangerous group with whatever combination of the four of us we have on the field."
Duncan agrees saying, "Greenlese and Lloyd. Both have good hands, good speed, and experience at the position."
When speaking of goals, Walters said, it's "1,500 receiving yards, and an NBC league championship," while for Duncan it's "to get better each week, and to help our team to be successful each week, and to make the playoffs."
Without Rettig, they say they wouldn't be enjoying the success they have so far.
"Having Jared as our quarterback is a big plus for our offense," says Walters. "His precision and his accuracy make my job easier. He puts the ball on the money, and all I have to do is catch it!"
Duncan echoes, "That's what makes this offense even better," having an amazing quarterback like Jared Rettig. He gets the ball to you when you're open, and that just helps you make a play for your team."
Rettig returns, "Todd is more of our possession guy, and with his size I just have to put it around him, and he can make a play. And Duncan is our long ball guy. Once he catches it, he can take it to the house."
It wasn't so long ago that it was the pair of them watching games the sidelines as future Flyers, so they are grateful to be living out their dreams.
"Growing up, I definitely dreamed of being a big contributor for Lake," shares Walters, "and when I was a little kid in elementary school, I looked up to the varsity players, and now that I'm here, I hope I'm setting a good example of what it takes to be a part of this for the next generation of Flyers. Advice I'd give to the little guys is to just keep their grades up, and work hard every day."
Duncan said, "I've always dreamed of suiting up for Lake on Friday nights," echoes Duncan. "I've always loved watching Lake football, and now that I'm playing it, and our team is having succes, I couldn't be happier. My advice to younger players would be to give 100% on every play, and to work hardest in practice, because it will pay off. Also, work hard in school, because that's always very important."