BY JAMES COOK
SHELBY — Only two teams have beaten Shelby this season.
And the Tigers outlasted them both in the playoffs.
Shelby's defense came up with timely — and big — turnovers in a 26-0 Division 6 district championship win over Glen Lake (9-2) Friday that moves the Tigers (9-2) into the third round of the playoffs for the first time in school history.
"I commend Jack Schugars (former Muskegon Oakridge coach) and Pat Collins (Montague) and those guys that have won state titles multiple times," Shelby coach Lorenzo Rodriguez said. "I understand right now — and I haven't got there yet — the amount of pieces of the puzzle that have to fall together for this to happen. You've got to have community support and it's got to be positive. The parents have to be on the same page — your kids, your staff, have a great game plan. You just take your hat off to those guys that have done it more than once. I'd give anything to do it once."
Shelby's only other playoff win came in 2001 over Shepherd before the Tigers defeated Kalkaska 42-21 last week.
Shelby struggled to move the ball consistently against Glen Lake's defense, putting together only two drives of more than 5 plays — both in the first half and both resulting in TDs.
Spencer Peters tossed a 15-yard scoring pass to Brody Lee on the second-quarter's first play to complete an eight-play, 55-yard drive and Peters found Nathan Lentz for a 2-yard TD pass to finish an 11-play, 62-yard drive with 41 ticks left in the first half.
"Early, we were able to throw the ball with some success against their aggressive defense," Rodriguez said. "Any time you run against a 4-4 (defense), they're a pressure defense and they're going to bring stunts and pinches."
The Tigers attacked the middle of the field over the linebackers to slow down Glen Lake's rush.
Those two passing scores were sandwiched around an Austin Porter 39-yard fumble return for a touchdown after Ben Schroeder blindsided Lakers quarterback Carter Lee.
"That was one of the plays that really started to turn the momentum to our side," Rodriguez said. "The bounces started going our way. That scoop-and-score — he's been around the ball all year and he's had multiple scoop-and-scores. He seems to be in the right place at the right time all the time."
"You pick up a fumble and return it for a touchdown," Glen Lake coach Jerry Angers said. "That's how we've played all year. We've done those things and gotten those breaks. We didn't get those done, they did and the rest is history."
The Tigers' seven other drives were all five plays or less, including five three-and-outs.
Shelby finished with 214 net yards to the Lakers' 240.
"I thought we played with them," Angers said. "To be honest "¦ we're better than they are. We just didn't make the plays when we needed to. We knew we had to play perfect or close to perfect and we didn't, but that's part of the game."
Shelby added a late 19-yard touchdown pass from Peters to Lee with 1:35 left.
Mike O'Brien led the Laker defense with 12 tackles, and Thomas Waning and Travis Wiltjer each had eight. Elliott Bregni added a sack. Waning also picked off Peters on a two-point conversion attempt after a bad snap.
Lee threw 28 times for 159 yards, with Waning hauling in 62 yards receiving, Curtis Bunek 41 and O'Brien 36. Dale Pleva ran for 41 yards and Anthony Czapek 31 as the team played without leading rusher Trevor Apsey, who broke his leg in the season finale against North Muskegon.
"The kids stepped up all year," Angers said. "They stepped up after he got hurt."
Glen Lake started off the second half with an impressive 12-play drive, but that ended when a handoff exchange was fumbled at the Shelby 15. Three other drives ended in interceptions.
"As a whole, we made too many mistakes," Angers said, attributing some of those to coaching. "And in the playoffs, you can't do that — especially when you get into the second round."