ALLENDALE, Mich -- Grand Valley is coming off a season where the Lakers made a 9th trip to the National Semifinals since 2001, but while that success may provide excitement during spring practices, even more so is the motivating factor of coming so close to a national championship.
"We obviously won 12 games last year, but the fact of the matter is, I'm not sure we had our best effort in the last one when it counted and we were playing for a national championship," said coach Matt Mitchell. "We're a pretty driven squad right now. Even though we had some success, I think it's a good mix. We have confidence based on what we've done, but we're not complacent, because we left some things on the field in West Virginia that we wish we had back."
Taking some of the sting off of last seasons ending is the fact that the Lakers return a roster full of talent and experience. Leading the list of returners is quarterback Bart Williams, who could take another step towards stardom after throwing for more than 4,000 yards and 45 touchdowns last season, his first as a starter.
"Everybody out here knows he's the man," said coach Mitchell. "There's a lot of confidence when he takes the field. Everybody believes in his ability and last year, I think, everybody was trying to figure out how good he is and was trying to figure out if he could do it. It's just way different than it was last year."
"Yeah, definitely a lot more comfortable," said Williams. "Playing 15 games, that's something that I couldn't value more going into the spring and off-season, but even though I played 15 games and I started all of last year, there's still things I can get better at.