By MIKE ECKERT
GLEN LAKE — One hurdle down, one more to go.
With a 29-7 Northwest Conference win over visiting Kingsley on Friday, the Lakers moved to 6-0 and clinched their second playoff berth since 2001.
The win also gives Glen Lake a share of the league title, which it can win outright next week at Frankfort. But, the playoff berth was the highlight on this night.
"Making playoffs," said Lakers senior Mike O'Brien, who was also named homecoming king. "That's just a goal we've had for so long. It's every football player's dream to make the playoffs and make a run. So that definitely tops it all."
Glen Lake (6-0) last made the playoffs in 2010 with a 5-4 record.
"That was the big thing," Lakers coach Jerry Angers said. "A couple of years ago we kind of backed into the playoffs, but we did beat Benzie and we beat Kingsley that year. Both B schools, which gave us a lot of playoff points. I kind of knew if we got through those guys, we should be in pretty good shape."
Defense was key for both teams in Friday's game, which was no surprise as both teams came in giving up less than 10 points a game.
"We knew it, the teams we played weren't very good," Angers said. "We knew that this was going to be a big game for us. Defensive-wise, I talked about it all week that they're good runners and coach Leonard does a great job. We had to set the edge and find out how good we are. I think we found out we're pretty good."
Glen Lake built a 14-0 lead at the half, thanks in large part to two big plays.
"That's kind of how their offense has worked all year," Stags coach Jason Leonard said. "On film and here tonight, they bust a couple here or there. And to give you the truth about that, that's the veer offense. It's like novocaine. Give it time, it always works."
Trevor Apsey broke a long run and quarterback Carter Lee snuck it in for a touchdown two plays later. Then in the second quarter, Lee connected on a perfect pass to Tyler Stachnik for 40 yards and Anthony Czapek scored from 23 yards out on the next play.
"That's one of the things I'm finding out as the season goes on," Angers said. "When we give these kids an opportunity... these guys step up. The Apsey run was huge, Carter threw the ball great. Carter does a great job checking at the line of what he sees. He's a very smart kid and this is only his third start of the year, so I think that's a big thing for him."
Apsey then put the game away on the first drive of the third quarter when he broke free for a 45-yard touchdown run and a 22-0 lead. He finished the game with 11 carries for 155 yards.
"There was some good blocking, I cut back and I was gone," Apsey said.
Czapek added a second touchdown in the third quarter and finished with 74 yards on seven carries.
Kingsley (4-2) got a touchdown with 24 seconds left when Nathan Zenner scored from a yard out.
The Stags returned All-State fullback Tristan Eickenroth for the first time since the season opener, when he broke his arm. Eickenroth played with a cast on his arm and finished with 21 carries for 81 yards.
"That was scary," Leonard said. "I was really nervous about him playing, obviously. But, you pad it up, tape it up and see what he's got. He's running a little soft still, but that will come back with confidence."
Zenner finished with 56 yards on 12 carries while quarterback Tyler Newell was 4-for-7 passing for 35 yards.
"Our offense put our defense in a bad position," Leonard said. "You can't do that against a good team. And Jerry's got a good team."
Defensively, Thomas Waning had 12 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery for Glen Lake while Curtis Bunek had 10 tackles. Connor Fitzpartick had six tackles for the Stags.
With the playoff berth in stone and a share of the league title, Glen Lake can now focus on winning it outright next week.
"In high school, the senior class has not beat Frankfort," O'Brien said. "So I'm drooling over this game. I'm ready for a fight."
"We haven't beat them in 11 years," Angers said. "(Frankfort coach) Matt Stapleton, I think, is one of the best coaches in the state. That's another step. We talk about step after step. The kids have some goals, which is awesome. I try to bring them down a little bit, but that's my job as a coach."
Kingsley could still be in the mix for a share of the crown, but would need to beat Benzie Central next week and get help from the Panthers.
"We've got to take care of ourselves," Leonard said. "We've got to come out and beat Benzie. We can't worry about what Frankfort does with Glen Lake."