The meaning of ‘Lakeview football’ showed up Friday

POLAND — Where does this game rank in games you’ve seen? Lakeview football coach Tom Pavlansky asked the question before either reporter could utter a question.

Lakeview rallied from 17 points down and upended previously undefeated Poland on Friday, 35-30.

It ranked high on my list, probably one of the best. The 2006 Canfield Cardinals, down 28 points at one point, had a couple of onside kicks to rally but fell short of then state-ranked Pickerington Central by five points. That was my most memorable game, until Friday. Canfield is coached by Tom’s brother, Mike. Both teams possess a dogged determination rarely seen in this easygoing day and age.

That’s what I saw out of Lakeview on Friday. Guess this is what Tom always refers to his team playing Lakeview football.

Poland’s running game dominated early with Jonah Spencer and Dante Romano bullying their way behind a stout offensive line. Cole Kosco had his passing game intact, finding his way through the Lakeview secondary.

It looked like Poland was going to blow this game open. First impressions can be deceiving, especially when you’re dealing with Lakeview football.

Things changed, and in a hurry, for Lakeview. Senior Zach Rogers was given time, but the 6-foot-2, 225-pound quarterback, built more like a fullback, launched a throw parallel to his sideline — finding sophomore receiver Noah Olejnik more than half a football field away. It set up Lakeview’s first score. The two connected before halftime for about the same length of the field, giving Lakeview all the momentum heading into the third quarter. The first drive of the third equaled the tying score.

Well hey, this looks like a football game and a darn good one at that.

Lakeview, which had 0 yards rushing at halftime, finally found openings in the Poland defense, wedging their way and giving Rogers more opportunities — making Lakeview look like a balanced offense.

Kosco had six straight incompletions and the Poland running game, aside from a pair of long runs, was dolce at best in the majority of the final 24 minutes.

Poland mustered a fourth-quarter drive after Lakeview opened up the scoring and took a six-point lead. Lakeview had a blocked extra point on its first go-ahead drive, tit for tat because of Poland’s missed extra point before intermission.

It was a fourth-and-10 on that drive, which eventually resulted in the opening fourth-quarter score. Rogers rolled, eluded a couple of hard-charging Poland defenders as he ran to his right. He eventually found Tony Crish in the flat. Drive continued.

Lakeview eventually took a five-point lead later in the quarter. No two-point completion to make it a seven-point lead, but this team had its offense rolling.

Dakota Whitt and Evan Adair knocked down a couple of Kosco passes on Poland’s final drive. Mission complete.

Pavlansky said after the game Rogers was tough with a capital T. The senior signal caller had crisp spirals and his team believing they could send Poland to its first loss, giving Lakeview a share of the All-American Conference, White Tier title.

“Now they have the right to call themselves champions,” Pavlansky said.

The last time Lakeview had a losing season was 2002.

“This is a win for the kids of Cortland and Bazetta,” Pavlansky said. “Hopefully it inspires people to be a Bulldog on the football field. Our young guys, they’re important to us.”

Winning in this fashion, you can bet this is a selling point to those potential players in the Lakeview district.

“I’m so proud of these guys,” Pavlansky said. “I’m speechless about these guys. What a whale of a ballgame.”

Friday, I found the meaning of Lakeview football.