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No November football for local varsity teams

Delton Kellogg honors coach Mike Powell, a Panther coach for 35 years and a cancer survivor, with former head football coaches (back from left) Fred Pessell, Rob Heethuis, Rollie Ferris, Vic Haas, one of Powell's former players Lt. Zac Haas, and current DK varsity football coach Ryan Bates during its Coaches Versus Cancer contest with visiting Constantine Friday at Delton Kellogg High School. (Photo by Brett Bremer)

Brett Bremer

Sports Editor

No early starts. No late starts. No more Friday afternoons or evenings for the Barry County varsity football teams this season.

Thornapple Kellogg, Hastings and Delton Kellogg each finished the 2019 varsity football season with four victories, shy of the mark needed to qualify for the Michigan High School Athletic Association postseason tournament.

For the most part it was teams that qualified for the post season that prevented the local guys, and girls, from reaching the playoffs. Nobody from the county defeated a playoff team during the 2019 regular season. Delton Kellogg, Hastings and Thornapple Kellogg each suffered four of their five defeats at the hands of playoff teams.

Half of the Interstate-8 Athletic Conference, home of the Saxons, is into the postseason this weekend – Jackson Parma Western, Coldwater, Marshall and Jackson Lumen Christi. Parma Western and Coldwater are a part of the same Division 3 District. The Panthers will travel to Chelsea for their pre-district ballgame Friday while the Cardinals play host to Pinckney Friday night. In Division 7, Jackson Lumen Christi plays host to homer Friday. Marshall will play host to Plainwell in a Division 4 pre-district ballgame Saturday at 1 p.m.

South Christian and Grand Rapids Christian from the OK Gold will meet up Saturday afternoon at Grand Rapids Christian High School in their Division 4 pre-district contest. East Grand Rapids from the OK Gold will host Lowell Friday night in a Division 3 pre-district match-up.

Schoolcraft from the Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley Division will be home to open the Division 7 postseason against Hartford Friday. The other half of that district pits Centreville against Lawton, a SAC Lakeshore squad that edged the Delton Kellogg team this fall.

Constantine is in the Division 6 bracket, visiting Niles Brandywine Friday. Kalamazoo United is a part of the Division 5 bracket, and will be at Berrien Springs Saturday.

The only playoff team from the Greater Lansing Activities Conference, Olivet, travels to Lansing Catholic for its Division 5 pre-district game Friday.

Local Standings

(record, playoff points)

Thornapple Kellogg       4-5, 42.000

Hastings                       4-5, 41.319

Delton Kellogg               4-5, 35.889

Lakewood                     3-6, 29.556

Maple Valley                 3-5, NA

Conference Standings (overall, conference)

Interstate 8 Athletic Conference

Lumen Christi       8-0, 7-0

Coldwater                8-1, 6-1

Parma Western       7-2, 5-2

Marshall                                     5-4, 4-3

Hastings                                     4-5, 3-4

Harper Creek           3-6, 2-5

Northwest                2-7, 1-6

Pennfield                 1-8, 0-7

OK Gold Conference

GR Christian                            7-2, 6-0

East Grand Rapids                  6-3, 5-1

South Christian                       5-4, 4-2

Forest Hills Eastern               4-5, 3-3

Thornapple Kellogg               4-5, 2-4

Wyoming                                  3-6, 1-5

Wayland                                     0-9, 0-6

Southwestern Athletic Conference Valley

Schoolcraft              8-1, 4-1

Constantine            7-2, 4-1

Kalamazoo United                  5-4, 4-1

Coloma                    3-6, 2-3

Delton Kellogg      4-5, 1-4

Watervliet                2-7, 0-5

Greater Lansing Activities Conference

Olivet                        8-1, 4-0

Stockbridge            3-6, 2-2

Lakewood                                  3-6, 2-2

Perry                          5-4, 1-3

Leslie                        3-6, 1-3

Here is a round-up of last Friday's local gridiron action.

Hastings 60, Charlotte 14

The fancy new scoreboard inside Baum Stadium at Johnson Field had a busy final two weeks as the Hastings varsity football team reached the 60-point mark in back-to-back victories to close out the 2019 season.

The Saxons improved to 4-5 overall this season with a 60-14 win over the visiting Charlotte Orioles Friday night, following up on 62-42 win over visiting Jackson Northwest from last week. Hastings won its final three ballgames of the season overall.

Six different Saxons scored touchdowns Friday, with three coming from Gabe Trick. He rushed for two and also scored on a 21-yard reception from quarterback Carter Cappon.

Elijah Smith rushed for two touchdowns as well for the Saxons. Seniors Trick and Smith both ran for over 100 yards in their final varsity football contest, with Trick leading the Saxon Wing-T attack with 12 rushes for 114 yards.

Smith had nine carries for 104 yards. Keegan Olson, TJ Russell and Cappon each eclipsed 60 yards rushing and had one TD each. Logan Wolfenbarger also had a touchdown run for Hastings in the victory.

Hastings intercepted three Oriole passes, two for Trick and one for Smith. The Saxon defense also recovered two Oriole fumbles.

The Saxons jumped on the Orioles from the start, with Trick intercepting a pass by Charlotte quarterback Charlie Grant on the third snap of the ballgame. Smith took the Saxons' first offensive snap 71 yards for a touchdown and Wolfenbarger ran in the two-point try for an 8-0 Hastings lead.

The Saxon defense forced a three-and-out, and then blocked an Oriole punt to take possession back over at the Oriole five-yard-line moments later, and Wolfenbarger scored on a five-yard run on the Saxons' second offensive snap of the game – adding the two-point run himself.

An interception by Smith ended the Orioles' next possession, and this time it took the Saxon offense three plays to reach the end zone – with Smith scoring on a 14-yard run. It was 22-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Smith recovered a Charlotte fumble on the Orioles' first possession of the second quarter, and two plays later Russell scored on a 23-yard run. Hastings also got a 21-yard touchdown pass from Cappon to Trick with a little over five minutes to play in the first half.

Charlotte got on the scoreboard between those two Saxon touchdowns in the second quarter, on a 61-yard touchdown run by Ashton Snell. Grant scored on a one-yard run early in the fourth quarter for the Orioles, with Isaiah Cifaldi adding the two-point run.

Trick tacked on a one-yard touchdown run and Cappon a nine-yard TD run for the Saxons in the third quarter. Trick scored on a 34-yard run and Olson on a 48-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Hastings kicker Evan Eastman added two extra-points in the second half.

Grant was 7-of-15 passing for 66 yard for Charlotte. Sentell managed 146 yards rushing on 17 carries.

Constantine 42, Delton Kellogg 28

There won't be any playoffs for the Panthers this fall.

Constantine dropped the Delton Kellogg varsity football team's record to 4-5 with a 42-28 SAC Valley victory in Delton Friday night.

Delton Kellogg got answers for the first four Falcon touchdowns from junior Bradley Bunch, but Constantine slowed down the DK offense in the fourth quarter and burned clock with its own offense to pull away in the end.

Bunch scored all four of DK's touchdowns. He had scoring runs of two and four yards, and touchdown receptions from junior quarterback Payton Smoczynski that covered 35 and 66 yards. He had 22 rushes for 106 yards on the night.

Bunch's final touchdown tied the ballgame at 28-28, with 3:02 to play in the third quarter, but Constantine answered with quarterback Caden Hetzy connecting on a 58-yard touchdown pass to Brayden Clark in the final minute of the third quarter. Hetzy added an insurance TD on a 23-yard run in the fourth quarter for the Falcons.

Hetzy rushed for two touchdowns and threw for two, also connecting on a 50-yard scoring pass to Clark early in the second quarter for the first points of the ballgame.

Constantine also got a 29-yard touchdown run from Isaac Hall and a 56-yard touchdown run from Hunter Bacheller.

It was a busy evening for the Panthers, who preceded the early kickoff with their Senior Night ceremony, hosted their annual Coaches Versus Cancer event and then paused between the first and second quarter to honor the 35-year coaching career of Mike Powell.

Thornapple Kellogg 45, Ottawa Hills 32

Touchdowns and big plays and celebrations and victories have been few and far between for the Thornapple Kellogg varsity football team in battles with the beasts of the OK Gold Conference – Grand Rapids Christian, East Grand Rapids and South Christian.

The Trojans managed to close out the 2019 season on a high note Friday, scoring a 45-32 victory over former, and future, conference foe Ottawa Hills at Grand Rapids Christian High School.

Clinging to a 17-14 lead after an Ottawa Hills touchdown with 76 seconds to play in the first half, the Trojans took over for one final drive. On third-and-7 back in their own territory, Alex Bonnema took a counter 46 yards to the Ottawa Hills 20-yard-line. After an Ottawa Hills pass interference penalty, TK running back Brendan Hood plowed into the end zone from ten yards out – upping TK's lead to 24-14 four seconds before the half with the help of Mitchell Middleton's extra-point kick.

“That was huge. When they have momentum going in their direction and then all of a sudden we break a big one, it was a major momentum shifter. It put it back in our hands, gave us some breathing room and that type of thing. It was huge,” Thornapple Kellogg head coach Jeff Dock said.

“We scored in under a minute and 13 seconds. I don't know when the last time that was.”

It was Hood's second touchdown run of the game, he also scored on a seven-yard run in the opening quarter. Middleton had a five-yard touchdown run and a 28-yard field goal in that first quarter too, and was a perfect 6-of-6 on extra-point attempts. Hood finished his final ballgame as a senior with 18 rushes for 157 yards and three touchdowns, adding a 28-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter, and also had a key block on Bonnema's big run that set up the final touchdown of the first half.

Hood wasn't the only one blocking well on the 46-yard burst by Bonnema. The Trojan front line of Austin Rounds, Blake Monroe, German Villalobos, Noah Kriekaard and Chad Meyering was big all ballgame.

“We did good things up front. We read it a whole lot better. Everything was good. Everything was clicking. It felt good to end on that. Not scoring many points and then going over 40 was huge,” Dock said.

“Those five guys have been consistent all year in regards to working hard, being at practice, trying to get better. The message for the week was we need to find a way to play our best football and finish on a high note. Finish on a positive with a win, but not just a win – execute at a high level like we're capable of because we have not done a good job of that the last few weeks. Having those five guys lead the way was awesome.”

TK quarterback Reece Garbrecht hit receiver Cole Shoobridge for a 16-yard touchdown pass midway through the third quarter to push TK's lead to 31-14, and Colton Vanloozenoord added a 38-yard touchdown run for TK late in the third. TK led 38-20 after three quarters and had the lead as large as 45-20 after Hood's third TD.

Bengal quarterback Scharai Horton threw two of his three touchdown passes in the final seven minutes to tighten the final score up a bit. He was 13-of-15 passing on the night for 219 yards. The Bengals didn't find any success on the ground, Horton led the team in rushing with seven carries for 35 yards.

Garbrecht was 3-of-4 passing for 32 yards and the one TD to Shoobridge, who also got a little time at quarterback Friday.

Bonnema finished with nine rushes for 95 yards. TK had 11 different guys rush the football in the game.

“Running the triple option is only good when you run the triple option. We were struggling reading it. The last three weeks I don't think we pitched the ball very much. Within the first drive, we pitched the ball three or four times. When you can go read, read, pitch, just like the triple is supposed to happen, now the offense clicks.

“Reese did a great job of reading it all the way through and getting it out when he needed to, and giving it when he needed to. Cole came in the second series, and he played some quarterback tonight too, and he did a nice job. All around, Reese had a great game finishing up his last 2019 game.”

TK had scored a total of seven points in the previous three contests combined.

Ryan Holmes had a team-high eight tackles for TK. Middleton had six tackles, including one in the Bengal backfield.

Ionia 10, Lakewood 9

The lead changed hands twice in the final minute on Unity Field Friday night.

Ionia kicker Tony Velasco booted a 37-yard field goal with a second on the clock to give the visiting Bulldogs a 10-9 win over the Lakewood varsity football team.

Lakewood managed to return the Bulldogs' ensuing squib kick all the way back to the Bulldog 35-yard-line before Ionia put an end to the Vikings' season.

Lakewood senior Jacob Elenbaas kicked a 37-yard field goal of his own four minutes into the second half to snap a scoreless tie, and then put the Vikings in front in the ballgame again with a 46-yard touchdown pass to Brent Sweet with 44 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Elenbaas's extra-point kick was blocked by the Bulldogs though, leaving Ionia the chance to win the ballgame with a field goal.

“They played hard on both sides of the ball tonight,” Lakewood head coach Matt Markwart said. “It is a rivalry game. You throw out the records and everything else. Both teams play hard, because that is the game of the year for both teams. They really play hard in it.

“Our kids were doing what they were supposed to do and playing hard. This week they really picked up on the little things we were showing them on film and really knew where they were going for the most part.”

Each defense had the opportunity to make a big goal-line stand in the contest, in a ballgame that the defenses dominated for the most part.

The Ionia defense's goal-line stand ended with the Bulldogs pulling down Elenbaas at the one-yard-line late in the first quarter on Unity Field Friday night.

The Lakewood defense's goal-line stand early in the fourth quarter nearly ended with the Vikings getting a stop to hold onto their team's 3-0 lead, but the ball squirted free and the only one there to grab it in the end zone was Ionia's quarterback Austin Hillabrandt.

“He was the only Ionia kid around. It kind of bounced right in front of him and as he was falling down, he fell on it,” Markwart said.

Rasmus Andersen booted the extra-point to put his team ahead 7-3 at the time.

“We had two guys dedicated to the quarterback. They ran a read option offense. They were able to get to our guy that was dedicated to him, when they went to a certain formation. We figured it out towards the end of that (scoring) drive, and we adjusted to it, but it was a little bit too late,” Markwart said. “After that we adjusted to it and stopped them after that.”

The teams were nearly even all night long Ionia managed 233 yards of offense and the Vikings' 235.

Elenbaas completed just two of 13 pass attempts in the ballgame for 59 yards, and had nine rushes for 36 yards. Sweet finished the ballgame with six carries for 72 yards, while teammate Sawyer Stoepker added five rushes for 47 yards. Sweet also had two receptions for 59 yards.

Elenbaas and fellow senior John Behrenwald were both brought up to the Lakewood varsity as sophomores. There are another five seniors who finished a high school career playing 37 games for coach Markwart, split between two JV and two varsity seasons. That group includes John Hewitt, Donovan Pratt, Cameron Winter, Anthony Briggs and CJ Morgan.

Ionia got a 13-of-17 passing performance from quarterback Blake Bookie, covering 97 yards. Hillabrandt carried the ball 16 times for 79 yards and Tanner Gregory had 15 rushes for 56 yards.

Hewitt had a team-high ten tackles Friday. Sweet had seven tackles and Elenbaas had five.

“It makes a tough one when it doesn't end the way you wanted it to end, and the season doesn't quite got the way you wanted it to go. They are sad that the season was over, and the younger kids are already talking about getting ready and going back after it next season,

“You have your mix of emotions, honoring the kids that are leaving and the kids that are angry and hurt by it and ready to get going for next year.”

Ionia improved to 3-6 overall this season with the win.

Bellevue 16, Maple Valley 0

Late in the second quarter Friday in Bellevue, facing a fourth-and-long in their own territory, the snap got away from the Bellevue Broncos.

“The ball got snapped over the quarterback's head and (Maple Valley senior AJ Raymond) chases it down and shoves it away from the quarterback who was going to make a play,” Maple Valley head coach Marty Martin described. “Low and behold, it gets shoved to a Bellevue kid. A couple missed tackles later, a couple broken tackles later and the kid is 30 yards down field, and who makes the tackle 30 yards down field after being on the ground 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage? AJ.

“That is what he has given us this year.”

That is kind of how the bounces have gone for the Lion team as a whole this year as well. The Broncos took the new life and turned the possession into their second touchdown of the night in a 16-0 victory over the visiting Maple Valley varsity football team.

“(AJ) led by example this year, being the only senior on the field for us tonight, he just played a tremendous game like he did all year long,” Martin said.

Raymond had four receptions for 37 yards in the ballgame, rushed 13 times for 40 yards. He also blocked a Bronco punt during the second quarter. He also recovered an on-side kick in the ballgame.

The blocked punt turned into another bounce that didn't got the Lions' way Friday. Teammate Hugheston Heckathorn scooped up the blocked punt and got a couple strides down field before fumbling the ball back to the Broncos. The Lion special teams also got the offense an extra possession in the game, recovering an on-side kick to start the second half, but quarterback Blaze Sensiba lost a fumble after a long run on the ensuing drive.

Between odd happenings like those and just solid football from the Broncos, the Maple Valley defense had trouble getting off the field all evening. On the other side of the ball, the Lions couldn't quite finish drives. They were inside the Broncos' ten-yard-line on their first possession, and had another drive stall out around the Bellevue 20-yard-line.

The Lion offense managed just 197 yards and only nine first downs all game. Heckathorn led the offense with 18 rushes for 68 yards. Sensiba was 7-of-13 passing for 80 yards. Cody Taylor had two receptions for 37 yards, matching Raymond's receiving total.

Bellevue got 17 rushes for 104 yards from Reece VanHoose, and quarterback Carson Betz tossed a pair of first half touchdown passes, while completing 4-of-9 passes for 78 yards overall.

The Broncos took an 8-0 lead on a 20-yard TD pass from Betz to Grant Morgan with 1:48 to play in the opening quarter. VanHoose ran in the two-point try. The Broncos then finished off their late second quarter drive with an 18-yard TD pass from Betz to Kyle Vickery. Nick Hayward ran in Bellevue's second two-point try.

“They had to work for everything they got to score,” coach Martin said. “We just got beat on the line of scrimmage. They were bigger and stronger than us. We just couldn't keep them from getting first downs. One of the things about eight-man is teams are more liable to go for it on fourth down, whether it is fourth-and-five, fourth-and-seven, fourth-and-two and we just couldn't get our defense off the field at times.
“We made too many mistakes on offense, putting the ball on the ground, missed blocks. On defense, their two touchdowns were just bad reads.”

Coach Martin spoke to his underclassmen about following in Raymond's footsteps in the years to come.

“Somebody has to pick up that mantle. Somebody has to become the next AJ and we challenged them. Instead of just someone doing that, everyone needs to do that,” Martin said.

The Lions end their first eight-player season with a record of 3-5.

Bellevue improves to 6-3 with the victory.

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