Friday night brought fans their first taste of high school football this fall in a CSAA matchup between the visiting Kent City Eagles and the hometown Morley Stanwood Mohawks.
The Eagles managed to hold the Mohawks out of the end zone after a long drive in the first quarter that stalled with a strong goal line stand.
The Eagles were subsequently the beneficiaries of several short fields after repeated defensive stops, but failed to capitalize on the excellent field position with multiple fourth down passes falling incomplete.
A final defensive effort kept the Mohawks buried in their own territory and forced a punt in the closing seconds of the first half and took both teams into halftime with a scoreless tie. Despite the initial Mohawk drive, the Eagles managed to hold the Mohawks to just 61 yards in the opening half.
The score would not remain tied, however, as Kent City sophomore running back, Mason Westbrook, barreled in for a touchdown early in the third quarter. The Eagles capped off the score with a two point conversion to make the score 8-0.
A few series later, Mason Westbrook went down with an apparent leg injury midway through the third quarter and was sidelined to receive attention from trainers and coaches.
Sophomore QB Kyler Larson also went down shortly after and forced an Eagles timeout with under a minute left in the third quarter. Both returned to action after the Kent City defense stifled the driving Mohawks once again; this time taking advantage of a fumbled snap.
Kent City answered with a drive of its own, but was also almost derailed by a fumble before being recovered by Kent City. The Eagles gained 6 yards on the play and a few plays later, sophomore running back, Webb Longcore, sprinted into the endzone on a second and goal play. Giving the Eagles their second touchdown of the evening. A penalty pushed the two point try to the 7-yard line, but sophomore quarterback, Kyler Larson, was able to scamper through a small hole up the middle and gave the Eagles the 16-0 lead.
The Mohawks responded on the kickoff with a determined return by junior Levi Schuberg that gave them position at the 40 yard line. The drive extended once again, but ended with an interception on a highly lofted ball tossed by junior quarterback, Aaron Moore, that enabled Eagles DB, Kyle Monterusso, to step in and take the pass the other way with just under 4 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
In the end, the visiting Eagles stifled Mohawk attempts to get on the board and posted the 16-0 shutout to start the season.
When the class of 2020 graduated and athletes walked off their respective fields, diamonds and courts for the last time a bit earlier than planned, many had to assume their senior year would be among the most unique in history. Six months later, the argument could be made that the class of 2020’s swan song was mostly “normal.”
Tonight, thousands of Michigan football players will take to the field in helmets and pads. Only this year, those accoutrements will be accompanied by another piece of gear: masks.
As the 2020 high school football season kicks off we will all watch and hope it provides the athletes and fans some sense of normalcy in a tumultuous and tenuous situation this fall.
Stay tuned for our coverage of the CSAA conference matchup between the Mohawks of Morley Stanwood and the Eagles of Kent City.
Just under a year ago, the Kent City Eagles competed in a post-season matchup in which they controlled things most of the way until poor free throw shooting allowed the visiting team to overtake them in the final minute.
That team was eventual state champion Pewamo-Westphalia, and while there is no guarantee the regional win would have given Kent City the same results, they certainly are justified in wondering what could have been. This year, the Eagles welcomed Morley-Stanwood to The Nest for the teams’ third matchup of the season and the District Championship on the line.
In a scene that was very reminiscent of a season prior, the Eagles led the Mohawks all night but left an opening at the end as free throws missed the mark in large numbers.
Morley Stanwood made great strides from an earlier season showdown at The Nest when the Kent City Eagles shot the lights out and ran away with a lopsided victory. The Mohawks were not dismayed and closed the gap between the teams to 10-points in the second matchup a few weeks later and just 6-points in the district final. The game got as close as 3-points in the final few minutes of play.
The tale of the night was undoubtedly the second consecutive game where the Eagles struggled from the field.
In the district semi-final, Kent City managed to get solid looks, but continually failed to turn those chances into points. Friday night looked very similar. The Eagles were able to work the ball through their offense and get open shots, but continued their cold streak and allowed the Mohawks to stick around until the final seconds ticked away.
Both games proved Kent City can win even when its shots aren’t falling. The Eagles can win games on the defensive end when needed and that is something they will once again need to do to advance this coming Tuesday.
The Mohawks end the season 19-4 with 3 losses coming against Kent City. They graduate a host of seniors, but will also return a number of impact players for the 2020-2021 season. The conference battle between the two schools should be back in full force next season and basketball fans are sure to be in for a treat when they meet again.
The #3 ranked Kent City Eagles advance to the round of 32 to face #1 ranked and defending state champion, Pewamo-Westphalia. The matchup marks the third consecutive year the two squads will face off in a post season contest with each year coming a round earlier than the last (2018 – round of 8, 2019 – round of 16, 2020 – round of 32). The teams will meet this Tuesday at Morley Stanwood High School.
Stay tuned for our preview of the game and opinion piece on some improvements that need to be made by the MHSAA.
The gym at Kent City High School could have been temperature controlled off the scorching hot shooting of the Kent City Eagles, alone, on Tuesday night in their opening match of post-season play.
Any energy savings that were accumulated earlier in the week were quickly spent on Thursday night as the Eagles went stone cold much of the night when they faced the Hesperia High School Panthers in the semi-final.
The Eagles managed to create open looks through their offense early and often, but were unable to capitalize. Shot after shot was off the mark and, at times, fans could have been forgiven for wondering if a prankster had fastened plastic wrap over the rim.
In lieu of their trademark three point barrage, the Eagles relied on their defensive pressure to separate from their opponent. The Eagle press kept the ball on the Kent City side of half court most of the evening and gave the cold shooters plenty of time to warm up the rims for Friday’s third clash of the season against Morley Stanwood. So, despite significant shooting woes that most fans of the Eagles have rarely seen in recent years, Kent City led 34-7 at the half.
The uncharacteristic shooting may have been a timely, though unexpected, positive. The early shooting woes meant Eagles had to call upon additional scorers further down the typical stat sheet than junior standouts Kenzie Bowers and Jenna Harrison. The Eagles got their primary offense from underclassmen Lexie Bowers (Kenzie Bowers’ freshman sister) who was also aided in stretches by sophomore Taryn Preston. The pair will undoubtedly have to contribute as significant scoring options when the Eagles move on to face state ranked competition later in the post-season, should they advance that far.
Lexie Bowers finished the Game with 19 points and Preston Finished with 7. Harrison finished with 10 points and K. Bowers ended the night with 13 points; an altogether quiet evening for the duo on one of the few remaining nights this season that they will not be needed to be electric in order for the Eagles to advance.
Despite the obvious shooting slump, Kent City managed a 61-26 victory while running through substitution lines and getting JV call-ups some varsity action for much of the second half.
Kent City will undoubtedly have to shoot better on Friday to secure their third win over the Mohawks this season. After a blowout first matchup, the Mohawks played a tighter game just a few weeks ago and will look to build on that performance Friday evening at “The Nest.”
After a matchup in recent weeks in which the Lady Eagles dismantled the previously undefeated Mohawks of Morley Stanwood, the second contest proved to be a more closely fought game.
The biggest difference in the rematch between KCHS and MSHS was undoubtedly the shooting percentage by the Kent City girls.
In the first matchup, the Lady Eagles seemed unable to miss and took advantage of blistering three point blitzes to set up full court pressure. Conversely, they seemed unable to make even lightly contested layups and open three point buckets in the second matchup between the squads.
That is not to take away from the effort put forward by the Morley Stanwood girls team, who came ready to play and applied as much pressure as they could muster in an attempt to upset the #2 ranked class C group. The group undoubtedly put a scare into the visiting fans that the Eagles would let one slip and Kent City found themselves down early before mounting large runs to gain and defend the lead the rest of the way.
However, the lack of made baskets kept Kent City out of their press most of the way, and while little changed in the way of scoring for the Mohawks compared to the first game, the team managed to put together a more controlled game.
Even without their press or offense being difference makers, Kent City’s half court defense kept Morley Stanwood off the scoreboard most of the evening and the Eagles took the win in a low scoring affair: 42-30. The Eagles can clinch the conference championship with a win in at least one of their final two remaining conference games.
Kenzie Bowers (19 pts) and Jenna Harrison (17 pts) combined for all but six of Kent City’s points.
The Kent City boys took the hardwood in the second game of the evening and hoped to squeak out another victory against second place Morley Stanwood.
The Eagles jumped out early thanks in large part to senior forward Will Wright who was a one-man wrecking ball to the Mohawk defense. Wright has really come alive in recent weeks and become a reliable offensive scoring weapon as teams look to take away fellow seniors Eli Carlson and Max Hudson. Wright has shown he is fully capable of stepping into the role of the top scoring threat when called upon and managed to propel the Eagles early in the game through offensive rebounds, post play and hard takes in the paint.
The Eagles took a thin two point lead into the half 26-24 after a last second heavily contested layup attempt by Mohawk guard Axel Woolworth seemed to defy physics and drop off of the iron at the buzzer.
However, Woolworth and fellow Mohawk guard Aiden McLaughlin were able to crack through the Eagle defense, that kept them largely at bay in the previous meeting, through an inside-out game that eventually gave Morley Stanwood the lead on a fouled three point attempt by Woolworth and a technical foul, which put the guard at the line for five straight free throws and gave the Mohawks possession. Morley Stanwood was also aided in holding off any Kent City attempts at a comeback with a big second half by Ryland Nelson who put forward a big run that helped maintain the lead going into the fourth.
Kent City attempted you make a run in the second half that cut things to single digits, but never got closer than a multi-possession game. The Mohawks snatched the victory in the conference rematch, 59-51, but Kent City still controls their destiny and will simply need to win remaining contests against Hesperia and Holton to win the CSAA conference championship.
In what could only have been called must-see high school action in rural West Michigan, four teams traveled from Morley Stanwood to Kent City in a rescheduling of games that were postponed due to a possible ice storm.
The games may have been postponed, but Morley Stanwood ran into a storm of a different kind on Tuesday night.
With JV Girls and Boys splitting courts between the middle school and high school in the interest of time, fans were warmed up for a night of CSAA Silver intraleague action. The Kent City JV boys battled back to beat the Mohawks by four points and the JV girls bested MSHS by double digits with a standout performance by freshman post-player, Abby Pecynski, who hauled in an incredible 18 rebounds for the Eagles.
With two wins under their belt, the Kent City Eagles prepared to take center stage for the main events of the night: two varsity matches with conference championship implications.
The first game of the night was between the lady Eagles (9-1) and Mohawks (8-0). Morley Stanwood came into Kent City boasting an undefeated record and the one-loss Eagles looked to bring momentum from a conference drubbing of Hesperia and victorious battle against class A and local foe Cedar Springs in the week preceding Tuesday’s showdown at The Nest.
Many in attendance likely assumed they were in for a real (and rare) treat, a tight game of highly contested basketball. What they witnessed was far from outside the ordinary and more of what Kent City faithful have come to expect from the Eagle women in recent years. Namely, absolute domination from tip off to buzzer.
A week earlier at home, the Eagles had used a high pressure full court defense and a searing combination of dribble drives and three point shooting to jump out to an early lead against Hesperia. However, such a start seemed far less likely against the undefeated Mohawks.
It happened again.
Kent City got hot early by forcing offensive turnovers and errors, which set up the Eagle three point attack by Jenna Harrison, who hit several in just the first few minutes. Mikayla Loew and both Lexie & Kenzie Bowers joined in the barrage. The Eagles eventually finished the game with an astonishing 16 three point buckets.
With the scoring in full swing it looked like Kent City was in position to hold a solid lead, which could resist a likely run by the Mohawks. No run ever happened, however, and Kent City continued to build upon their lead before closing out the game with a jaw-dropping 75-33 win over the previously undefeated Mohawks.
The boys game also professed to give fans a great battle between conference leaders, but while the girls game had come to a shocking, though anticlimactic end, the boys game proved to be all it was predicted to be. Morley Stanwood (7-0) also entered the game with an undefeated record, though the Eagles (4-3) had posted similar scores against mutual opponents.
Morley Stanwood started fast in the second game with a host of open three point shots generated off of sagging help defense by the Eagles trying to take away the dribble-drive by hyper-athletic senior guards Aiden McLaughlin & Axel Woolworth.
Kent City was able to withstand the spree and began generating offense on the other end through a combination of cutting drives by senior guard, Eli Carlson, and superbly fundamental post play by fellow senior, Shawn Anderson. The two gave Kent City several early buckets while the rest of their scorers got going and both teams settled into the flow of the game defensively.
Things went into the second half with neither team looking as though they were ready to put the game out of reach. Each successive run was quickly answered, which kept things close late into the third quarter.
Kent City managed a huge run that got them up by double digits in the fourth before Morley Stanwood mounted another comeback and looked to put the game in striking distance in the final minute as Kent City held a narrow one point lead.
Morley Stanwood managed to foul after a wide open Shawn Anderson wisely passed on a corner three to run time and force the Mohawks to scramble to foul. A haphazard three point attempt by Morley Stanwood was no good and the Eagles knocked off the previously unbeaten Mohawks 67-61.
As much of “small town America” is hollowed out with a resurgence of populations shifting back towards cities and their amenities, jobs, entertainment and the various other benefits that they provide, many might wonder why some resist the tidal urge and choose to remain part of their rural communities.
The dynamic is reminiscent of local news interviewing a hurricane hold-out that refuses to leave despite having every reason to pick up stakes and get out of dodge.
However, what is lost in the flash and glow of city lights are the things that people find so appealing about small-town America: cost of living, familiarity, multi-generational family businesses, low crime, good schools and perhaps most importantly, community.
In a small town, everyone is your neighbor. So perhaps it should come as no surprise that the small community of Kent City, Michigan came together to support one of their own after tragedy struck a local family.
Kent City is just about as deceiving a name as they come. The small town is comprised of an estimated population of just under 1,200 and land acreage that is populated with more apple trees than people.
In a town where everyone knows your name, events that might not rise to the level of front page news in Grand Rapids, a metropolitan area of over 1 million and just 15 miles south of Kent City, a small community can be rocked by them.
Local high school senior, Alex Solorio, passed away unexpectedly on November 25, 2019, just ten days after his 18th birthday.
Solorio, an avid soccer fan, played for the Kent City Eagle varsity soccer team and earned the sportsmanship award at the conclusion of their 2019 fall season. News of his passing impacted the greater Kent City and the local soccer communities that had come to know Alex over the years.
Just a little over a week later on December 4th, local pizzeria Papa Piccione’s, owned and operated by local and Kent City graduate, Jeff Sabin and his wife, decided to use their business to raise funds for the Solorio family in their time of mourning.
Sabin first began using his small business as a means to raise money for various causes in 2012. Since then, the pizza parlor has raised money for families in need, local sports programs and non-profits, and most recently the Solorio family. Sabin did not know the Solorio family personally, but in a small town everyone is your neighbor. Everyone is like family.
We reached out to Sabin to inquire what led him to host the fundraiser:
“I’m a local Kent City graduate and have two kids of my own, so this broke my heart deeply. I have a soft spot for my community and will help them any time I can.”
In the end the fundraiser topped at just over two thousand dollars over the course of the 12-hour day.
There is never “good” that comes out of the tragedy of losing such a young and beloved member of a small community like Kent City, but there can be love and that was on full display as neighbors came to support one of their own.
If there is one thing the residents of Kent City have shown this holiday season, it is that there is still something worth protecting in small town America.
Memorial donations may be made to the Kent City High School Soccer program.
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 – Fayth 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.
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.