WESTFIELD TWP. — One man has been a part of any success the Cloverleaf football team has had over the past 25 years — and this fall he’ll back in charge.
Bob Lake, the winningest coach in school history, was hired Tuesday to replace Doug Haas, who resigned Jan. 24 to become head man at Wooster.
“It’s a great opportunity for me and I’m excited about it,” Lake said. “We’ve got to continue to get kids out for football and get them excited about football. We need to give them the right schemes to succeed with. We’ve gotta make it fun for them to be apart of it.”
The 57-year-old Lake compiled a 62-77 record for the Colts from 1986-99. His 1992 team finished 9-1 — the school’s best season since going undefeated in 1971 — behind Gazette co-MVPs Lance Hansen and Cory Carlson, as well as 1993 MVP Scott Gasper. Lake was also offensive coordinator when Cloverleaf advanced to the Division II playoffs for the only time in 2008.
Above all else, Lake’s players had a remarkable run of receiving big-time college scholarships. More than 20 were recruited by D-I schools, including Penn State, West Virginia, Northwestern and Yale.
When Haas resigned, athletic director Craig Walkup approached Lake to run the offseason weightlifting program.
At the time, the ultra-popular psychology and sociology teacher never dreamed of being head coach again, but working with the current players in the fieldhouse at Gene Clark Stadium re-energized Lake’s enthusiasm.
So when Walkup asked Lake for another favor — this time to lead the Colts back to the playoffs after back-to-back 4-6 seasons — he gladly accepted.
Lake plans on implementing a spread offense built around throwing the ball with soon-to-be sophomore Garrison Flora at quarterback, first-team All-Ohioan Robby Buckwald and speedy Devin Cunningham as wide receivers and two-year starter J.D. Schleich at tight end.
While Lake admitted the lines need a lot work, the core of skill players has him excited.
“(Buckwald) reminds me of Lance Hansen, who we had back in the day, and Garrison reminds me of Scott Gasper,” Lake said. “J.D. Schleich reminds me of Matt Fordenwalt. They’re good kids and smart kids, and I kept seeing comparisons there. They have a long way to go and a lot to prove to match up to those great players of the past, but I think they can do that. I see the potential there.
“That’s a big part of coaching. I’ve got to motivate those kids to work hard and be part of what we want to do.”
Frank Peters is slated to be the offensive coordinator, Chris Lance will run the defense and Jim Humiston will return as defensive line and special teams coach. Lake is hoping other coaches within the district will eventually join the fray.
“We’re happy with the way it worked out,” Walkup said. “Being in fiscal emergency, you’re not sure what you’re going to get. The fact Bob was in the building and was a blessing in disguise.”
Contact Albert Grindle at (330) 721-4043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.