By Sean Budlong
October was supposed to be a tough month for the Schoolcraft Eagles football team. After starting the season 5-0, they would face Lawton, Gobles, Constantine, and Delton Kellogg. Through the first five weeks of the season, those four teams combined for only five losses. The Eagles proved to be one of the best teams in the state as they dominated all four teams on their way to a perfect 9-0 regular season record.
October started with a highly anticipated match up with Lawton, then 5-0. Quarterback Ricky Clark passed for 199 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing for another 125 yards. The Eagles’ defense limited Lawton to 183 total yards, and set the tone for the rest of the season. The 47-0 victory showed the strength of both the offensive and defensive lines.
Gobles was next on the schedule, and the Eagles prepared for an impressive rushing attack. Instead, it was Schoolcraft running away with the game, 41-12. While Gobles did out-rush Schoolcraft 216 yards to 149, 80 of those yards came with less than four minutes left in the game and the Eagles up 41-6. Clark passed for 221 yards in the victory.
Constantine is always a big rivalry game for Schoolcraft, and this season was no exception. The Falcons needed the win to stay alive in the hunt for the playoffs, and the Eagles were looking to extend their win streak. The game was a back-and-forth affair, with Schoolcraft down 24-21 after a Falcon touchdown early in the third quarter. The Eagles took the lead for good just 14 seconds after that score when Caleb Anspaugh returned the kickoff 79 yards for the winning touchdown. Clark added two rushing touchdowns to make the final score 42-24.
The regular season finale was against a strong Delton Kellogg team, which needed a victory to make the playoffs. Schoolcraft’s defense wasn’t in a charitable mood, and dominated the Panthers in a 41-15 victory. While the Eagles had over 200 yards rushing, they scored four times through the air as Clark finished with 231 yards passing.
Schoolcraft’s 9-0 regular season saw some impressive performances. On offense, Clark finished the regular season with 725 yards rushing and 1455 yards passing, accounting for 30 touchdowns. Zac Sharp and Caleb Anspaugh each added 10 touchdowns, rushing and receiving. Brandon Verwey added seven rushing touchdowns.
On defense, Schoolcraft dominated its opponents with a depth of skill and a passion for hitting hard. Ian Anspaugh, who finished the regular season with 52 tackles and three fumble recoveries, explained the Eagles’ defensive philosophy. “We just hit and hit, and keep coming for you.”
Sharp, Payton Hoskins and Verwey led the Eagles defense with 70-plus tackles each. Teams often found themselves down early in games against Schoolcraft and were forced to try to pass. This mostly did not work out well, as the Eagles intercepted 11 passes. Clark had five interceptions, Darren Kehoe three, Sharp two, and Thomas Meadows one.
The most important part of Schoolcraft’s football team is the easiest to overlook. The impressive numbers put up by Clark, Sharp, and the Anspaugh brothers came behind an offensive line that was inexperienced in the beginning of the season. However, as the season progressed, their level of confidence grew and they dominated their opponents. Adam Marshall, Collin Tone, Vince Morris, Thomas Meadows, and Alex Midgett were outstanding. Whether the Eagles were rushing for four touchdowns against Constantine or passing for four against Delton, the line gave Clark and his teammates the time and holes they needed to be successful.