By Sean Budlong
Editor’s Note: The newspaper was going to press as the Schoolcraft vs. Lawton football game was taking place. The final score was 47 – 0 in favor of Schoolcraft. The Eagles jumped off to a quick start when Lawton fumbled on the second play. Then Ricky Clark threw to Nolan Anspaugh for a 26-yard TD and Schoolcraft was unstoppable.
The first month of the football season brought strange weather conditions, new opponents, and rising expectations for the Eagles. It also brought five straight victories.
The toughest game of the season so far was a 34-33 victory over Watervliet. Big plays ruled the game early, as Ricky Clark returned an interception for a touchdown and hit receiver Caleb Anspaugh for a 50-yard touchdown pass. A 21-point lead was cut to 27-13 when Watervliet scored with fifty seconds left in the first half. The Eagles gave up three touchdowns in the second half, the last with only 30 seconds left in the game. Darren Kehoe’s play to knock down the 2-point conversion saved the day.
While the Watervliet battle has been the toughest game of the season so far for Schoolcraft, the Eagles’ trip to Bangor was the strangest. The 27-6 victory was unusual because the game was called due to lightning four minutes into the second quarter. “That was the shortest game I have ever experienced as a coach,” Schoolcraft Terry Haas said.
Schoolcraft has been able to get its full roster plenty of playing time early in the season. Victories over Hartford (40-12) and Galesburg-Augusta (49-0) have allowed Haas to substitute liberally, which is important to a team with 21 juniors. Eleven different Eagles have scored this season, and two players (Justin VanDyken and Kameron Snyder) have kicked extra points. This depth may be critical as the playoffs get nearer.
The Eagles have used a balanced offensive attack and tenacious defense to rise to the top of the Kalamazoo area rankings. Quarterback Clark has passed for 739 yards and 10 touchdowns in five games, which is more than double the total for the entire 2014 season (10 games). Five different players have been on the receiving end of his touchdown passes, led by Zac Sharp (4) and Caleb Anspaugh (3). Ten different Eagles have combined for 797 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns. Running back Brandon Verwey has carried the bulk of the load for Schoolcraft, contributing 220 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Schoolcraft’s defense has been stellar all season. The Eagles allowed 33 points to Watervliet, which has averaged over 60 points per game in its four wins. Verwey, Sharp, and Payton Hoskins lead the Eagles in tackles. Schoolcraft has a young but deep roster that is reflected more on defense than offense. Twenty-five Eagles recorded tackles in five games.
The Eagles’ success starts in the trenches. Schoolcraft’s offensive and defensive lines have been dominant all season. The offensive line of Adam Marshall, Alex Midgett, Vince Morris, Cam Blalock, and Thomas Meadows has opened holes for Clark, Verwey, Hoskins, and Anspaugh. On most of the Eagles’ scoring plays the running backs have reached the end zone untouched. Meadows and Marshall have been equally effective on defense where they have been joined by Ben Crofoot, Collin Tone, and Ian Anspaugh to limit the opponent’s rushing attack.