Opening their season against cross-state powerhouse, Michigan State, the Eagles found themselves on the nail side of that equation. MSU controlled the game in all but the first period and managed to kick off a huge 13-0 run leading into the half. EMU was eventually handed a 35-point loss: 85-50.
Fast forward three days later and the Eagles were once again taking the hardwood, this time against Division III Olivet College in the friendly confines of the Convocation Center of Ypsilanti, MI.
We made the trip to the east side of the state to cover two local freshman, Hannah Brown (White Cloud ’19) and Zara Webber (Kent City ’19) kicking off their college careers together for the Comets.
The game tipped off to the screams of 2,500 area school children as part of EMU’s Education Day promotion, which gave local kids a day of college basketball, t-shirt canons, spirited cheering and Jumbotron dance-offs. The gym was electric with youthful exubrance well before tipoff and continued for much of the afternoon. The noise factor was often more reminiscent of a post-season matchup in the NCAA tournament, than an early Friday afternoon contest in November, but made for an incredible atmosphere for all in attendance.
Eastern Michigan quickly looked prepared to dominate the game through its size, where they maintained a clear advantage from wings to paint, as the teams tipped off. EMU Junior center Autumn Hudson dominated the glass early with several offensive rebound-put backs, which set the tone for the Eagles and gave them a 4-0 lead.
Olivet was prepared to make things a battle early, however, and OC freshman guard, Hannah Brown, knocked down a pair of back-to-back three point buckets that dropped straight to the bottom of the net. The second bucket gave Olivet its first and only lead of the contest at 6-4. That early showing would not last however and the Eagles closed the first quarter over the Comets with a score of 23-8.
The Comets would get it as close as 12 with 9-minutes to go in the second period, but EMU created additional space between the squads on the scoreboard by shrinking the court through their size and speed by bringing added pressure on a 3/4 court press, which helped them close the half with a 26 point lead.
The combination of size and strength in the paint and on the wings proved to be too much again after the break. The Eagles got things going right away as the relentless EMU defensive pressure began to wear down the Comets and the ladies from Olivet would only manage to score 6 points to the Eagles’ 27 in the third period.
The fourth quarter would be much of the same for both squads. The Comets mounted a fourth quarter effort that got them into double digits for the period, but were simply unable to get momentum going on either side of the court, as had been the case all afternoon. EMU’s continuous flood of size and strength off the bench kept the Eagles fresh and ready to put Tuesday behind them.
The waves of substitutions gave the Eagles a well-rounded offensive and defensive attack that led all eleven players to score during the contest and five to do so in double digits.
Some night’s you’re the hammer and others you are the nail. It definitely felt better this Friday for the Eagles to play the role of the former. Both teams will be matching up against foes from Ohio with the Eagles facing off on the road against Youngstown State and the Comets hoping to regroup in their first non-exhibition competition and home opener against Defiance College.
Rebounding: EMU – Autumn Hudson (12) Courtnie Lewis (9) OC – Faith Talbert (5) DeeDee Post (4) Scoring: EMU – Courtnie Lewis (15) Kiara Johnson (13) OC – Hannah Brown (9) Amari Brown (6) Assists: EMU – Jenna Annecchiarico (6) Corrione Cardwell (6) OC – Tammy Lee (4) Amari Brown (3)
Former president and co-founder of the NFL, Steve Sabol, once wrote the following lines which became famous through the narration of John Facenda of NFL Films:
“(The autumn wind) growls as he storms the country, A villain big and bold. And the trees all shake and quiver and quake, As he robs them of their gold.”
The trees were not the only things quivering last night at Ward Memorial Field in Kent City, MI as temperatures dipped into the upper 30’s early in the game and only became less palatable with a spattering of cold rain in the 4th quarter.
Fans from Northpointe and Kent City braved the conditions in thick coats and hats, huddling together in such tight quarters that the packed stadium still left room in the stands. Their dedication would be amply rewarded with four quarters of incredibly hard-fought football.
They say defense wins championships and that is perhaps more true in high school football than any other sport. The cold temperatures plagued both teams last night as hand dexterity and tactile grip on the ball both dropped with low temperatures and rain causing both teams to fight for field position more often than points. The temperatures almost assuredly led to the mass amount of times the ball found its way rolling around the turf in a game that seems likely to have been scored in the mid-30’s by both teams if held in August.
Things got kicked off with Northpointe receiving the opening kickoff. However, their first drive would not last long. Big run stops led to a passing situation for the Mustangs formidable air attack. Stout pressure came up the middle from the Kent City defensive line and chased NPC senior Qb Drew Wurn from the pocket before KC senior defensive lineman Jesus Hernandez ultimately brought him down for the sack.
It would go from bad to worse for the Mustangs on their opening drive. Backed up deep in their own territory, a fumbled long snap was nearly picked up by Kent City before the Northpointe punter was miraculously able to recover and rugby style kick it at least a dozen yards down field. This turn of events led to Kent City starting their opening drive already deep in Northpointe territory and it wasn’t long before the Eagles marched in for the touchdown on a one yard plunge by senior RB/LB Max Hudson.
The extra point was partially blocked and failed to cross the uprights, giving the Eagles a 6-0 lead early in the contest. On a night where points did not come easy, this early turn of events would prove fortuitous for the Eagles.
Successive defensive stops allowed Kent City to make several trips to the red zone throughout the first half, but turnovers or huge tackles for loss by Northpointe spurned their advance each time.
Both teams struggled to gain much momentum offensively the rest of the first half until Northpointe’s final drive.
The Mustangs started by moving the ball through the air, seemingly the only way they would be able to reliably move the ball downfield Friday night. However, the Mustangs found their stride and shredded their way down the field on the strength of Wurn’s big-time arm and clutch catches by NPC senior RB/Wr Josiah Dooley.
The passing attack brought the Mustangs within one yard of the end zone with four downs and under a minute to go in the half. The Mustangs were stopped on first and second down. Wurn attempted the slant pass to the end zone on third, but failed to complete it. That gave the Mustangs a 4th and goal from the 1 yard line and 20 seconds remaining in the half.
Both teams lined up ready to battle it out in the trenches. The old saying goes, “these are the times that try men’s souls.” While that may be a bit dramatic in this particular instance, this was undoubtedly one of the times that determine ball games. The Eagles front 8 pressed hard into the Mustangs offensive line and managed to stop Northpointe for a loss. The eagles took possession and a 6-0 lead into the half.
The second half was as much of a defensive slog as the first half. Kent City got the ball inside the NPC ten yard line before the Mustangs rallied with a big sack fumble on a bootlegging senior Qb, Eli Carlson. The Mustangs scooped the ball and looked prepared to take it 90+ yards for their first touchdown of the game when Hudson screamed across the field and laid a vicious tackle that brought the NPC ball carrier down around the 50 yard line.
This play set in motion a wild series of events that would see the ball changes hands several times in the course of just a few minutes. Wurn dropped back and tossed a pass down the left side of the field where it was intercepted by KC junior DB Bradley Brooks. The series of turnovers kept the back and forth going for another several minutes before Kent City finally managed to gain traction and drive the ball inside the ten again.
The Mustangs looked poised to stop their advance again and forced them into a 4th and 11 from the Northpointe 12 yard line. It seemed making the contest a two score game would be enough to secure a victory with the way both teams’ defenses were performing and this play would prove as important to sealing victory as the prior fourth down standoff to end the first half.
Pressure from the Mustangs was instantaneous as Carlson flushed deep out to the right and dumped off the pass to Hudson. The Eagles hopes appeared to be dashed when Hudson found himself staring down a defender almost instantly. However, Hudson showed what he has all season: he is dangerous in space.
Hudson shook the first defender and burst towards the end zone. Another Mustang defender tracked hard from the secondary and appeared ready to stop him just short of the first down. Hudson would not be denied, however, and showed once again that it takes a host of defenders to bring him down. Hudson barreled through the would-be tackler and spun his way into the end zone, giving the Eagles their second score of the night. The Eagles racked on two more points with Carlson bootlegging to the left and finding a wide open Hudson in the end zone to make the score 14-0 going into the 4th quarter.
The Mustangs were undeterred and swiftly marched towards the end zone. The drive appeared halted on multiple occasions as the Mustangs were backed up on penalties, resulting at one point in a 3rd and 26. However, the Mustangs showed what they had all night, when Wurn had time and momentum, they could move the ball through the air. Wurn tossed the ball deep down the left sideline, completing the pass for the first down. The Mustangs continued their drive and pushed into the end zone for the first time of the night. They followed their touchdown up with a two point conversion, which brought the game to 14-8.
The drive showed one thing for certain. If the Mustangs were left much time they had the tools to score, and do so in a hurry!
Kent City found themselves marching into the red zone again when Max Hudson trampled his way around the left end and barreled inside the ten where he was hit hard by multiple Mustang defenders, jarring the ball loose in the wet & cold conditions.
The Mustangs took possession. Within just a few plays, Wurn tossed a bomb to the end zone to the outstretched arms of his streaking receiver for the Mustangs second and lead-taking touchdown. However, celebration turned to dismay as eyes made their way to a small yellow flag back at the line of scrimmage. Holding on the offense. Results of the play waived off and a ten yard penalty.
The Eagles forced the punt and began a crucial drive. With just a few minutes left and a 14-8 lead it became clear to the huddled masses in attendance that the Eagles offense didn’t need to score, but did need to help their defense by running off as much time and putting as field position between Wurn and the end zone.
Step one: get a first down. It appeared several times on Kent City’s final drive that NPC would be able to stop the Eagle advance and take back possession with time to score. However, the chess match between Kent City’s head coach, Bill Crane and NPC head coach Brian Haveman was underway as both teams fought to either drain or preserve as as much time as possible.
Crane strategically let time run down before calling timeout before two key plays on the drive, knowing if they were stopped every second mind count in the hands of Wurn and his Mustang receivers. However, on each instance the Eagle came up big with freshman RB Mason Westbrook having a breakout night in big situations. Westbrook’s runs weren’t flashy. In most cases it was hard to tell he even had the ball, but time and time again a swell of cheering would erupt as Westbrook burst from a pile of defenders 5, 10 or 15 yards downfield.
The Eagles ran Westbrook on multiple important downs and he delivered each time, pushing the Eagles downfield and, more importantly, draining time off the clock.
The Mustang defense managed to hold their ground one last time and give Wurn and the offense one last shot with the ball deep in their own territory, the season on the line and just over 30 seconds on the clock.
Their hopes would quickly be dashed. Successive incomplete deep balls that just barely fell incomplete were capped off by a huge interception by DB Bradley Brooks, his second on the night. Eagles rushed to celebrate and lift him up for sealing what amounted to be the final live play of the game.
The several Eagles helped up visibly distraught Mustangs who had made last gasp efforts to make a play for the ball, before calling victory formation and sending the home fans out with a playoff victory and retire Ward Memorial Field until next year.
While the game was not decided by two plays, two fourth down plays by the Eagles accounted for at least a 14 point swing in their favor and failing to make those plays could have easily had the Eagles on the wrong side of a 14-6 score.
Northpointe ends their season at 6-4. The Eagles advance with a record of 7-3 to play undefeated Pewamo-Westphalia for what is sure to be another big test for the Eagles, as PW has maintained an astounding average score of 42.9 to 2.1 this season.
The Eagles will take the gridiron in Kent City at Ward Memorial Field at least one more time in the 2019 season as they face off against the Mustangs of Northpointe Christian HS. Both teams enter the contest with identical records at 6-3 and the only mutual opponent being Calvin Christian HS, which Kent City beat most recently 62-14 on October 18 and Northpointe handled convincingly on September 20th with a nearly identical score of 59-14. Each team will be relying on a strong host of senior-laden run-first backfields with QBs Drew Wurn (NPC) & Eli Carlson (KC) and RBs Josiah Dooley (NPC), Jake Shepherd (NPC), Dolan Bair (KC) and Max Hudson (KC) hoping to keep their senior seasons going deep into November.
That is where the similarities end for these two teams. Kent City is under the helm of fourth year coach, Bill Crane, while Northpointe has found its way back to the playoffs under first year coach, Brian Haveman. This marks only the second time in four years that Northpointe has made it to the post-season while Kent City marks their fourth such trip in as many years.
Following massive success in the mid-2000s, the Chargers have struggled in recent years, posting just above a .500 record during that time. Coach Haveman hopes this season will be the start of a new tradition in Northpointe football.
Kent City’s losses this season came at the hands of 9-0 Muskegon Orchard View, and 6-3 Morley-Stanwood & 6-3 Grant HS. Northpointe’s losses came against 9-0 Niles-Brandeywine HS, 8-1 Adrian-Lenawee Christian and 6-3 Centreville.
Both teams take the field at Ward Memorial Field in Kent City, MI this Friday at 7pm. Good luck to both teams. Tickets are available for pre-sale at both high schools for $6.
During his hour visit at Calvin University, ESPN commentator and New York Times bestselling author Tim Tebow spoke little about his time as a professional athlete and more about his path and upbringing. He talked about the difficulties in making decisions and choosing God’s will and way, how he questioned his choices once he made them.
“Adversity may take your momentum, but it can never take you passion.” – Tim Tebow
Tebow spoke about what success meant to him, and how important it is to be significant rather than successful. This mindset was the result of his founding of the Tim Tebow Foundation, which strives to provide opportunities for those less fortunate and those with special needs. After his trip to the Philippines with his church, and meeting the boy with his feet on backwards, Tebow was inspired to do more and be more than compete in professional sports and a celebrity icon.
Speaking to an audience of mostly college students and visiting high school students, Tebow spoke about adversity, how people shouldn’t be discouraged by difficulties but rather let them be an encouragement. One’s purpose isn’t tied to anything on earth, Tebow reminded the crowd. “Adversity may take your momentum, but it can never take your passion,” Tebow told Calvin’s audience.
The University of Michigan Football team opened up their 2019-2020 season on Saturday with a 40-21 victory over Conference USA foe Middle Tennessee State (8-6 & 1st in C-USA East Division in 2018) at the Big House.
All eyes were on senior quarterback Shea Patterson and Michigan’s new hybrid offense, which borrows elements of the pro-style, spread and up-tempo offensive systems, under first-year offensive coordinator Josh Gattis. The Wolverines received the kickoff to start the game, and the senior quarterback and his offensive teammates trotted out on the field ready to unleash their “speed in space” scheme.
It didn’t exactly start off as expected, though.
On the first offensive play from scrimmage, Patterson fumbled the ball over to the Blue Raiders while scrambling to escape the MTSU pass rush. It seemed as if all air was sucked out of Michigan Stadium, and on the ensuing possession, Middle Tennessee State QB Asher O’Hara would escape three Michigan tacklers in the backfield and scamper for 18 yards into the end zone to give his team a 7-0 lead early in the game against the heavily favored Wolverines.
“A win is a win, but I don’t think anyone in that locker room felt like we played up to our standard.” Shea Patterson
Michigan would straighten things out, however. After a Jake Moody field goal to make the score 7-3, Patterson found a wide open Tarik Black in the end zone for Michigan’s first touchdown of the season.
Despite some sloppiness on both sides of the ball, Michigan had the game relatively in hand for the rest of the night after Black’s touchdown catch. Patterson tossed two more scores on the night, one to wide receiver Nico Collins and another to tight end Sean McKeon. Jake Moody added to the scoring, tacking on another field goal, and both backup junior quarterback Dylan McCaffrey and running back Ben VanSumeren ran their way into the blue-turfed end zone. A failed two-point conversion after the McCaffrey touchdown would leave the Wolverines with the 40 points that concluded their scoring for the night. Blue Raider quarterback Asher O’Hara would go on to throw for two touchdowns, including one coming in garbage time with just over a minute left to play, to bring us to the final score of 40-21.
Shea Patterson did not seem to be completely pleased with the Wolverine’s performance:
“A win is a win, but I don’t think anyone in that locker room felt like we played up to our standard,” said Patterson after the game. “We’ve got to play better. I’ve got to play better.” Questions were raised by fans and media members about the quality of Patterson’s play both during the game and after, but fifth-year head coach Jim Harbaugh seemed to provide an explanation during postgame interviews:
“I thought Shea (Patterson) played extremely well. He was working through a little something, he was being evaluated at halftime. I was keeping a close eye on him. (Patterson) Had some quarterback runs designed in the third quarter that I prefer to see Dylan (McCaffrey) running because I didn’t want to make Shea’s issue worse. Made some great plays, did a great job.”
The Wolverines obviously suffered through some growing pains in their first game under the new offensive system.
Despite that, Harbaugh was optimistic and said that he had seen a lot of good things, but admitted, “we’ve seen in practice (that) we can operate cleaner…That’s what we’ll strive for this next week. This is a new offense, and for a first time out, it was good. Could it be better? Yeah, sure, and that’s what we’ll be striving for.”
Nobody knows how deep Josh Gattis delved into his playbook on Saturday night, but despite the shakiness, he did enough to spark excitement from a lot of the Michigan faithful.
Michigan’s defense, for the most part, looked promising. Like the offense, they faced some adversity, and still have a lot of room to improve. They gave up 301 total yards and three touchdowns, but also forced a fumble and an impressive interception by junior Ambry Thomas. Don Brown is in his fourth year as Michigan’s defensive coordinator, and it is expected that the Wolverine defense will be a bright spot once again this season.
The Michigan football team continues their season next Saturday at the Big House in what could be a dangerous trap game vs. the Army Black Knights at Noon ET. Army runs the triple option like Navy and Air Force, which is an offense that has been known to give even the most talented defenses trouble. However, all eyes will still most likely be on the Gattis-run offense.
Wednesday night was a showcase of Junior talent for the Kent City Eagles as they met the White Cloud Indians in their season openers in Kent City, Michigan.
The Eagles wasted no time and jumped out in front of the Indians in each of the first two sets. Fans at The Nest watched with breath held tight, however, as the White Cloud varsity volleyball team dropped an absolute hammer on Kent City in the third.
After gaining the 2-0 set advantage, Kent City struggled to break the Indian’s serving momentum in the third and allowed the Indians to make a dominant run on route to a 20+ point margin over the Eagles to bring the match to 2-1.
The Eagles bounced back in the fourth set, battling back and forth in what became a very close contest and seemed to showcase a more accurate representation of how the two squads were matched. Juniors Erica Bull (MH) and Jenna Harrison (S) managed to keep the set close through a combination of well-targeted attacks, though White Cloud would go on to win the fourth set.
The Eagles found themselves falling behind again in the fifth, trailing 11-6 with little momentum on their side. However, things started to shift behind the back line as Harrison and fellow Junior, Jasmine Weeks, gave White Cloud’s serve receive fits and managed to gain the advantage several times as the Indian’s fell out of system or were met by blocking pressure at the net.
The tide really began to shift as Junior outside hitter, Hannah Vander Lugt, got hot from the outside, driving several consecutive balls at the White Cloud defense and applied consistent pressure that had been missing the previous two sets.
Kent City gained the lead on a wild volley that relied on several quick reactions as they seemingly willed themselves to reach balls to keep the play alive. They did not look back.
The Eagles pushed the game to 14-13 before ending the game at 15-13, giving the hometown fans the satisfaction of a full night of volleyball and a hard-fought win. The relief was palpable as Kent City dodged a bullet in the opener and pulled out a scrappy victory before tensions released into celebration near mid-court.
The senior shooting guard superstar from Kent City has just moved into Olivet College to begin her Division III athletic career with other local incoming freshmen, and the future is bright.
Kent City’s girls varsity basketball team has had a lot of success the past few years, and a big part of that success traces back to Weber. She has been a weapon from behind the three point line, and looks to help the Comets immensely in that aspect. Zara set the Kent City school record for threes in a single game (10), and in a season (87). She has also been consistently named all-conference, and BCAM honorable mention throughout the state. She was a participant in the Top Shooter contest, with fellow teammate Jenna Harrison, that took place at halftime during a state finals game at Calvin College this past year.
“Olivet felt like home right away.”
The summer heading into her senior year of high school, Zara figured out playing college basketball was what she wanted to do. The coaches started calling, and the summer tournaments became about recruiting as well as improving for her last season. GRCC and Albion were in her final roundup of college choices, but Olivet won her over.
“Olivet felt like home right away,” Weber commented about her choice. “I really loved the small town feel, and all of the people I met on my visit.” She fell in love with the Cutler Center gym she’ll be playing in soon, as well.
Head coach, Britney Berry, played a large role in Weber’s decision. Berry, who was an assistant coach at the time, got to know Zara early on, and made a favorable impression. “She’s so cool and I loved her from the start,” Weber added. “She was easy to talk to and laid back, but could take practices and games seriously, too.” Berry accepted the head coach position a few months later, and the rest is history.
The Comets are adding quite a few girls onto the roster this year, with six incoming freshmen. Hannah Putnam (Central Montcalm), and Hannah Brown (White Cloud), are a few locals that will be joining Weber on the court this upcoming season. The first game is November 2nd in Sylvania, Ohio at Lourdes University. Until then, the girls will be adjusting to campus and classes, and starting practices before too long. Weber will be studying Risk Management in Insurance at Olivet, as classes start August 19th.
“If you know you want to play college basketball, put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to contact coaches,” Zara said towards other high school students dreaming of being a collegiate ball player. “Don’t let success or failure get to your head, and just play the game,” she added.
Weber plans on becoming a more aggressive and confident player in college, and knows Olivet is the place to help her achieve that and much more. Her high school achievements and experiences are memories that will last a lifetime, but she is not satisfied yet.