Category Archives: Sports

Hofmann: Detroit Lions Will Exit Bottom-Dweller Status in 2022

The Lions are coming off of a disappointing season in 2021-2022 after finishing with the second worst record in the league at 3-13-1. This was expected by most of Lion nation and was viewed as a tank season by many fans. Although the team’s record was in the gutter, they showed flashes of being a competent team. This was especially evident when head coach Dan Campbell took over play calling duties from former offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn in week 9. Players such as Amon-Ra St. Brown, D’Andre Swift, Amani Oruwariye and TJ Hockenson showed that they have the ability to compete at the NFL level for a long time. In the upcoming 2022-2023 season the Lions are looking to exceed expectations and continue to develop key players for the future.

The 2022 draft for the Lions was a major success, at number 2 overall the Detroit Lions selected Aidan Hutchinson, a defensive end out of Michigan who was widely regarded as the most NFL ready player in the class. Hutchinson is seen as a plug and play type of a guy and a player who does everything at a high level. Through his 4 years at Michigan he tallied up 18.5 sacks and finished second in Heisman voting his senior year, the first defensive player to do that since Manti Teo in 2012. Hutchinson, who has the potential to be an All-Pro level player in the coming years will be a huge piece for the Lions this season.

Campbell has high praise for the young defensive end saying this during an interview this off-season “… He just learns and gets better every day, you just see it and so I love that about him. He’s just – everyday man, there’s growth right in front of us.” If he can become what this front office believes he can become, this defense is going to be putting fear into opposing offenses this season and beyond.

The Lions proved a dedication to changing the narrative in Detroit for the first time in years when they traded for the 12th pick with the Minnesota Vikings to select Jameson Williams. Williams, the electric Alabama receiver coming off of a complete ACL tear was seen as the most explosive receiver coming into the draft. Before his injury he was almost certain to be a top 10 pick.

Even with the ACL tear, Brad Holmes and the Lions saw enough in Williams to take him with the expectation that he will be ready by week one. During an interview Coach Campbell sounded hopeful but cautious when asked about Williams’s return timetable. “We’re going to do this thing the right way and when he’s ready, he’ll be ready. But no, I don’t feel like you’re going to see him out there day one.” With that being said it isn’t expected that Williams will be ready the first day of camp but will most likely be good to go by the start of the season. Williams will be a dangerous weapon for Jared Goff this season lining up on the outside opposite of newly acquired DJ Chark and star-in-the-making second year player Amon-Ra St. Brown

The Lions offense was in the bottom half of the league last season, ranking 22nd in total offense. The first half of the season was abysmal, the ball was not moving and turnovers were a serious problem. After the bye week, there was some optimism in Detroit as Campbell took over play calling and the offense became more dynamic and unpredictable to defenses across the league. It seemed like the team was having fun and clicking for the first time all season under their first year coach.

Looking ahead to the 2022-2023 season fans expect to see more of the offense they saw during the last 8 games of the previous year. The Lions added weapons for Jared Goff to play with, in DJ Chark who came over from Jacksonville, and Jameson Williams, the dynamic receiver from Alabama.

When the Lions traded for Goff during the 2021-2022 offseason, a lot of fans are expected Goff to be a bridge quarterback and get the lions through until his contract was up. Although there is great possibility that the Lions will dump Goff and select a Quarterback in next years draft, if Goff can show that he has what it takes to be a starting QB in the NFL, the Lions may decide to keep Goff around. Remember, Goff lead a high powered Los Angeles Rams team to the Super bowl just a few years ago. With the right tools and coaching, Goff could be the guy. With expected leaps young stars in Deandre Swift, TJ Hockenson and Amon-Ra St. Brown, as well as a top offensive line in the league. This offense is hoping to be improved, especially with the favorable schedule they face during the season.

The Lions defense was arguably the worst in the league last season and they often struggled to stop teams from imposing their will on drives down the field. The defensive line was letting whoever touched the ball get through and could not force any pressure. Th linebackers were among the worst in the league and the secondary was injury riddled. During the 2022 off season the front office heavily addressed defense using 6 of their 8 picks on defense, starting with the dynamic Aidan Hutchinson, who will be an obvious day one starter and playmaker for week one.

In the second round they selected Josh Paschal a DE from Kentucky who should be a very fun tool for Aaron Glenn to utilize this season, a player who can play on the outside, inside and in some packages a linebacker. With their third round pick they selected Kerby Joseph a safety out of Syracuse, I love Joseph I believe he can start week one, he has tremendous length and great ball skills, he is going to fit perfectly in the lions deep zone scheme and be a great addition to the secondary. Malcolm Rodriguez a undersized linebacker out of Oklahoma State was taken with the 6th round pick. He has great speed and mechanics, the only knock on him is his size and arm length but I believe he is gonna be special on the special teams unit and be a great backup. In Free agency the Lions were not very active with the bigger names but made very good signings without spending a lot of money and not signing these guys over a long period of time. They signed Safety DeShon Elliott from Baltimore who was severely underrated during his tenure on the ravens, who I expect to have a breakout year with this team under Aaron Glenn’s scheme. They also made small depth moves in signing Linebacker Jarrad Davis who was a first round pick for the lions during the 2017 to a one year deal, they signed veteran cornerback Mike Hughes to a one year deal to be a depth piece and a mentor to the younger guys in the secondary. With Amani Oruwariye expected to make another jump after his 6 interception season, should be a bright spot on this defense. Outside of Amani, this secondary has the potential to be very talented, Jeff Okudah is expected to make a full recovery from his Achilles injury while I do not expect him to be the star corner fans thought he was when he was drafted, I do expect him to make an impact on defense and hopefully be atleast half the player he was viewed to be. Undrafted studs Jerry Jacobs and AJ Parker will be back for another year after both seemingly came out of nowhere.

A storyline to watch out for going into training camp is seeing if any of the guys who missed a major portion of last season can come back and play at the same or higher level this season. The three most notable names being DE Romeo Okwara, WR Quintez Cephus and CB Jeff Okudah. Romeo Okwara is 1 year removed from a career high 10 sack season with the Lions. He was off to a slow start during the 2021 season when he went down with an Achilles injury during week 4. Having him off the edge this upcoming year could be huge for the defense if Romeo can come close or exceed the amount of production he gave the 2020 team, at only 27 with 2 years left on his 3 year 39 million dollar extension, his production will mean a lot to this young defense.

Quintez Cephus situation is more of a weird one though he is only 24 and has showed major potential during his first two seasons in the league, one question still remains, where does he play? This off-season the Lions added two wide receivers who are almost guranteed a starting job and second year player Amon-Ra St. Brown’s development shows no signs of stopping. The Lions also retained Kalif Raymond who had somewhat of a mini breakout season as well as keeping veteran Josh Reynolds around. Going into last season, Cephus was penned in as a top 2 WR on the roster but this year it looks like he will fall to around the fourth or fifth spot depending on camp outcomes. Cephus has all the potential and the tools to be a very good receiver in this league and a contributor to the Lions. He just needs to find his role on this roster and he will be very successful.

The last player and probably the most intriguing one would be CB Jeff Okudah, drafted with the 3rd overall pick in the 2020 draft, Okudah had an abysmal rookie year, getting burnt left and right. Yes it does take corners longer to adjust to the NFL from college and he was thrown into a terribly ran defense, being forced to guard the opposing teams number one receiver on a weekly basis, you still want to see some hope that he will live up to his third pick status. Last season we saw little to nothing as he tore his Achilles in the first game of the season. This year the hope is that he can come in and play a part in the defense, I feel like the expectation that he is ever gonna be a top 5 corner in the league that was expected of him when he entered the league is gone. Most sensible fans just want him to be serviceable, I know this is not very ideal when you spent a top 3 pick on a player but after an Achilles injury and very few glimpses of stardom, it is the reality.

The schedule curators this year seemed to do the Lions a favor as the Lions have the fifth easiest schedule in the league based on projected win totals. The Lions are looking forward to this season as they are expected to outperform their abysmal record of 3-13-1 last season. The Lions will play 9 home games and 8 road games this season.

With the pieces added and familiarity with head coach Dan Campbell, I predict the Lions to make a significant leap towards being competitive and go 7-10. Beating the Commanders, Bears 2x, Giants, Jags, Jets and Panthers, and dropping games to the Packers 2x, Vikings 2x, Bills, Dolphins, Cowboys, Eagles, Patriots and Seahawks. I think this team beats the teams they are supposed to, which is always the first step in turning around a historically struggling franchise.

I do not expect this team to beat the Packers at all this season; they just have too much star power even with the loss of Davante Adams and always seem to find a way to beat the Lions. Finishing 7-10 would most likely get the Lions out of their places as a bottom-dweller in the league, but still land them around the top 10 and an option to be able to select their QB of the future or address a different need with this stacked upcoming draft class. 7-10 would be a much needed improvement and hopefully the development of the young pieces continues and playoff pushes begin in the near future.

LIONS SIGN SEVEN 2022 NFL DRAFT SELECTIONS

Detroit also signs 12 undrafted rookie free agents

Allen Park, Mich.— The Detroit Lions announced today that they have signed the following 2022 NFL Draft picks:

DL Aidan Hutchinson – Michigan
WR Jameson Williams – Alabama
Kerby Joseph – Illinois
TE James Mitchell – Virginia Tech
LB Malcolm Rodriguez – Oklahoma State
LB James Houston – Jackson State
CB Chase Lucas – Arizona State

In addition, the Lions have signed the following undrafted rookie free agents: 

RB Greg Bell – San Diego State
CB Cedric Boswell – Miami (Ohio)
TE Derrick Deese Jr. – San Jose State
Obinna Eze – TCU
TE Nolan Givan – Southeastern Louisiana
Kevin Jarvis – Michigan State
WR Josh Johnson – Tulsa
Zein Obeid – Ferris State
WR Kalil Pimpleton – Central Michigan
WR Corey Sutton – Appalachian State
DL Demetrius Taylor – Appalachian State
CB Jermaine Waller – Virginia Tech

The Lions will open at home on September 11, 2022 against the visiting Philadelphia Eagles.

Unity Christian Freshman Arie Landstra Sinks Hole in One

Arie Landstra began developing a love for the game of golf at a young age during outings to the course with his father. 8 years later, the Unity Christian freshman is in his first year of high school golf as part of the Crusader junior varsity golf team.

The individual nature of the game appeals to Landstra, “unlike the sports I play like basketball or football… there is a lot more of a mental game in golf.” That focus and mental game was tested last Wednesday when Unity Christian participated in a jamboree against five other schools at Pigeon Creek Golf Course.

Landstra opened with a slow start and triple bogeyed his very first hole. He shook off the nerves and managed to get clicking. By hole 17, a 170 yard par 3, he was in a rhythm. He approached the tee wielding his 7 iron and with the wind at his back. He entered his backswing and launched a beautiful shot that sailed towards the flag and disappeared from view.

Landstra was immediately overwhelmed by what he was almost certain he had seen and took off running towards the pin to verify it for himself. What he found was what all golfers aspire to achieve; his golf ball nestled soundly in the bottom of the cup. A hole in one.

He closed the day shooting a 41 on 9 holes, which placed him first as an individual and aided Unity Christian in sealing the team victory as well.

Landstra has checked this milestone off his bucket list, but several goals still stand before him. He hopes to close his freshman campaign with a winning record and work towards earning a spot on varsity next year. His long term goal is to raise a state championship trophy. He is certainly off to a great start.

Kent City Did It Again

There are few teams that lost as much as the Kent City Eagles did last spring as two all-time Kent City greats, Kenzie Bowers and Jenna Harrison, graduated. The two school and state record holders left the small town of Kent City, Michigan to continue their basketball careers in the collegiate ranks (Bowers at Illinois State and Harrison at Siena Heights).

One could have been forgiven for assuming the Eagles would take a step back in 2022, even as they brought back several key pieces of that historic run. The Eagles had other plans and have battled their way into the state final with an unblemished record for the second straight season after handling Madison Heights Bishop Foley with relative ease. The Eagles got a huge boost from junior guard Lexie Bowers, who was held to just 6 points in the state quarterfinal, but was on fire inside Breslin for the second straight year.

Last year the Eagles faced Grass Lake and Big 10 Indiana commit Lexus Bargesser & Northwood commit Gabi Lutchka. This year the Eagles advance to challenge another giant, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep.

The Gators are loaded with Division 1 talent and led by Texas A&M commit Mya Petticord and Bethune-Cookman commit Karianna Woods.

One could also be forgiven for thinking the Eagles should shift into “just glad to have made it” mode with such a task ahead of them Saturday evening. While Arbor Prep’s aggressive and physical style of play will be on display in the final, it should be expected to see a Kent City team ready to respond and play with a chip on their shoulder as well.

It is not often that the David in the “David and Goliath” metaphor is the defending state runner-up, but it is the place Kent City finds itself and the stigma they’ve been upending all season long on their way to a perfect 26-0 record going into the final matchup of the season with a state championship on the line.

Clean Sweep for Area Girls Basketball

The talents of west Michigan girls basketball were on full display Tuesday night. Kent City traveled an hour south to face Schoolcraft in the quarterfinal for a second year in a row, Rockford welcomed East Lansing just down the road at Calvin University and West Catholic faced undefeated Edwardsburg in Wayland.

A year after Kent City (25-0) routed Schoolcraft (finished season 23-2), the teams battled it out through four quarters of defensive brilliance. Schoolcraft managed to slow Kent City star, Lexie Bowers, and held her to just six points. However, sisters Emma and Maddie Geers played sister-sister and led the Eagles on the offensive end to the 34-33 victory. The Eagles will head to Breslin for the second time in school history in as many years. They will face Madison Heights Bishop Foley (20-3).

While it took the Kent City faithful four quarters to find out if their Eagles would advance, West Catholic (24-1) had their answer much earlier in the night. Undefeated Edwardsburg (finished season 24-1) was outmatched from the jump and never got their bearings. The Falcons ran away with things in the first half and did the unthinkable by forcing a running clock in the second half during the state quarterfinal. West Catholic advanced with the stunning 82-27 final. The Falcons are playing with a fire brought on by a heartbreaking exit last year, partially due to Covid protocols and will have something to prove against Detroit Country Day this Thursday.

The final showcase of west Michigan girls basketball talent was the Rockford Rams (23-2) and East Lansing Trojans (finished season 19-5). Both teams are stacked with stellar guards able to handle and shoot the ball with efficiency. East Lansing also had the unique aspect of a post presence in senior center, Ella Miller. Both teams played a hard-fought first half with Rockford freshman Anna Wypych giving a standout shooting performance on the way to a 23-21 lead at the break. East Lansing’s offensive efficiency waned in the third quarter after coming out hot in their first few possessions and fell behind double digits. The Trojans made several runs, but couldn’t sustain them long enough to overcome the Rams’ hot shooting touches. The Rams advanced to the state final with the 54-43 victory.

All three west Michigan programs advance, proving once again that west Michigan hosts some of the best girls basketball in the state and deserves more recognition in the state-wide hoops landscape.

Northview Advances to Face West Ottawa

The gym was electric on Tuesday night in Grand Haven, MI. Elite basketball talent was on display all evening and four teams entered the confines of Grand Haven High School with plans to leave with berths into the regional championship. The unfortunate nature of the post-season meant that two teams would be leaving empty-handed.

Wyoming narrowly led West Ottawa at the half and seemed to be in control of that slim margin for most of the second half, but things began to slip as desperation set in for West Ottawa. With their season on the line, they managed to put together a small run and gain the advantage. That put them in the driver’s seat and allowed them to play keep away for most of the final 6 minutes. That strategy put them at the line and the Panthers managed to sink all but a couple down the stretch. Despite mounting a spirited effort, Wyoming could not get over the hump and lost a battle in the regional semifinal.

The second matchup of the night was a slugfest between two favorites to go the distance this post-season. The unfortunate news was that the two would be facing one another in the round of 16. Muskegon seemed poised for the opportunity to upset Northview and Mr. Basketball finalist, Kyler VanderJagt. They jumped all over the Wildcats in the early going behind impassioned defense and incredible shooting.

Northview also found themselves as the beneficiary of severe foul trouble to three of its starters and top two scorers, VanderJagt and Jalen Charity. That meant the Wildcats had to turn to their bench and next level of scorers to deliver quality minutes and most importantly: points. Not only did the Wildcats answer the call, but managed to maintain a lead going into half.

The second half saw more tough fouls called against Northview’s scorers, but Charity was able to see prolonged minutes, while VanderJagt patiently waited for time to dwindle low enough to step back on the floor in a close contest. Northview’s balanced attack slowly began to drain the Big Reds and the lead began to expand. However, every time it looked like Northview might run away with it, Muskegon would mount another run that kept things hopping in the packed gymnasium. In the end, Northview played like a veteran roster and never lost their composure, even as Muskegon pulled within striking distance multiple times. That poise will be necessary if the Wildcats are going to achieve their goal of a state championship.

Northview will face West Ottawa in the regional final on Wednesday night as heavy favorites.

Kenzie Bowers and Illinois State Redbirds are Going Dancing

Just a year removed from leading the Kent City Eagles to their school’s first ever state championship game, Kenzie Bowers is flying high again as a true freshman with the Illinois State Redbirds. ISU just punched their ticket to the NCAA tournament after stunning victories in the Missouri Valley semifinal and final games.

Though Bowers’ role has looked much different this year than when she wore the red & white of Kent City, she has played an important one for the emergent Redbirds with stretches as a starter when others were down due to covid protocols and as a reliable player of the bench.

Whatever her role will be in the Redbirds opening matchup with #2 seed Iowa, it is certainly an incredible moment in her young collegiate career and one that many excellent players never achieve. Such a moment may not come again, but for now the Redbirds have this season and only one task in front of them: beat the Hawkeyes.

Area Teams Prepare for Big Playoff Matchups

Boys Basketball Roundup

Northview will have one of the best showdowns in the area as they face a battle-hardened Muskegon team in Grand Haven. Despite being favorites for much of the season and knocking off several giants throughout the regular season, Northview will have their hands full with Muskegon and stellar forward Ethan Hill. Northview has some players to be contended with as well and it will be tough for the Big Reds to slow down all of them. Expect Northview to not overlook this matchup even though they have bigger goals on the horizon.

A year removed from a trip to Breslin and a state runner-up finish, Tri-Unity Christian will look to continue their run this year with goals of taking down the title in star Brady Titus’ senior campaign. It’s championship or bust this year for the Crusaders.

Girls Basketball Roundup
Kent City is no stranger to long post-season runs and will not be unfamiliar with their state quarterfinal opponent, Schoolcraft. The two teams met last year in the quarterfinal round with Kent City dominating their way to a nearly 40 point victory. While both teams have been rolling again this year, Kent City has had to find a new identity behind first year head coach, Aleah Holcomb, and emerging playmakers Maddie Geers and Lexie Bowers with the Eagles losing several key pieces from the 2021 squad. Despite those key changes from last year, Kent City is certainly a favorite to emerge as the victor and head for their second ever trip to the Breslin Center later this week.

The Rockford Rams will have a tough matchup against visiting East Lansing at Calvin University on Tuesday Night. The Rams upset Hudsonville by 22, despite losing both regular season matchups by double digits. The Rams will have another tough test as they face a very well-rounded East Lansing team, which has been rolling as well the last month. This one could go either way, but the Rams will look to play the role of underdog again, but are fully capable of turning the tables as well.

West Catholic got revenge over Newaygo, the team responsible for knocking them out of the tournament last spring. While Newaygo may have got the better of the Falcons that day, West Catholic had vindication on the brain as two of their key players were out of that previous matchup due to covid protocols. This year was a different story and West Catholic dominated for the full 32 minutes. They will have a solid matchup in southern Michigan this Tuesday, but should come out the victors and head to Breslin later this week.

Other Teams in Action this Week

Calvin Christian High School
Sparta High School
Wyoming High School
West Ottowa High School
Grand Rapids Christian High School
Grand Rapids Catholic Central

Kent City Eagles Continue Journey

Despite a very aggressive Covenant Christian team, the Eagles continued their journey towards the grand prize, a State High School Championship.

Covenant Christian led most of the first quarter, with the Eagles trailing close behind. But soon the tide changed and the Eagles took off.

Lexi Bowers finished with 19 points, but it was Madelyn Geers who had to take charge when Bowers got her fourth foul at the begging of the 3rd quarter. The Kent City Eagles defeated Covenant Christian 46-32.

Lexie Bowers 19 points Madelyn Geers 16 points Taryn Preston 9 points.

Kent City (24-0) will play Schoolcraft (23-1) tuesday at Edwardsburg High School at 7pm.

Potter’s House Raises Banner and Downs Grand River Prep for Homecoming

There is an adage that spans the parlance of the battlefield to the chessboard to the gridiron: the best defense is a good offense. Well the Potter’s House Pumas set out to prove two things on Friday night at “The House.” The first was that the age old phrase fits the confines of the hardwood and that the inverse of the popular colloquialism is also apropos: The best offense is a good defense.

The Lady Pumas dominated the court with defensive pressure running the length of the gym and were able to keep the visiting Grand River Prep Titans from crossing halfcourt for what seemed like the majority of the game. Wave after wave of fresh players left the bench and entered play to continue the defensive onslaught, which generated fast break points on the offensive end. That in turn gave the Pumas a sizable advantage early in just the first few minutes of play and they made sure to never look back again.

The pressure proved too much for the Titans and the Pumas gave Potter’s House its first varsity victory of the Homecoming festivities.

Potter’s House was not done celebrating after the teams left the floor and the Puma faithful welcomed and honored their 2021 state champion soccer squad with a post-season highlight film and championship banner reveal. The spotlight glowed on the fresh vinyl and generated even more energy to the already raucous crowd.

Then it was the Puma boys’ turn to bask in the spotlight.

Despite being heavy favorites, the Pumas struggled to settle into the flow of the game early on and fell behind the Titans in the first quarter. However, a big second quarter run gave the Pumas the advantage going into half and some adjustments at the break broke any hopes the visitors had of playing spoiler in night’s finale.

Potter’s House was able to generate significant pressure all over the court and played with such ferocity and energy that, at times, it felt like they might have had eight defenders on the court. Like in the previous game, this pressure gave the Pumas high percentage looks on the offensive end and absolutely crushed the Titans in the second half.

The game entered mercy rule territory and the clock ran out, giving the Pumas the incredible 79-34 homecoming victory.

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