By Travis Smola
The Vicksburg varsity football team ended their season with a 3-5 record after a 37-7 loss at Three Rivers.
The Bulldogs’ lone score in their final game came on an 87-yard kick-off return by senior Shane Earl in the second quarter. Earl also had an interception in the contest. The loss marks the end of a long, hard season that saw Vicksburg missing out on the playoffs.
“We just couldn’t get into a rhythm offensively or defensively in a lot of games,” Coach Tom Marchese said.
The Bulldogs’ last victory of the season was a 70-28 win over the South Haven Rams on homecoming night. The game will long be remembered for the Bulldog faithful as senior Caleb Welch made Michigan high school football history.
Welch averaged 14.1 yards a carry as he rumbled to 354 yards on 25 carries. But the most eye-popping stat of the night was the eight touchdowns he scored. Welch now joins an elite group of only two other players to score eight touchdowns in a game in MHSAA history.
Six of his scores came in the first half. He had three shorter TD runs, but Welch absolutely shredded the Ram defense again and again by breaking off long touchdown runs of 35, 14, 19, 36 and 50 yards. That last one was the opening play of the third quarter.
“He was running really hard,” Marchese said. “When he gets going downhill with some speed in open areas he’s tough.”
Marchese gave credit to the offensive line for opening up some huge holes all game. “He couldn’t do it without the lineman and his lead blocker, Brandon Thompson, did a heck of a job as well,” Marchese said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our guys.”
Vicksburg fans can definitely look forward to some good things next season, especially the return of sophomore quarterback Jacob Conklin. He impressed fans and opposing teams alike with his calm demeanor and playmaking ability both passing and scrambling.
“He did a really good job of being a silent leader and speaking up when he needed to,” Marchese said. “I think he did an outstanding job not only throwing the ball and running the ball, but also becoming a leader and that’s kind of tough as a sophomore.”
The team will also return key pieces like junior receiver Chase Myers, one of Conklin’s favorite targets and junior left tackle Kyle Rose, who was a force on both the O-line and the defensive front all year. The end result may not have been what they drew up when planning the season, but Marchese said the effort put forth by the boys was exactly what he asked for.
“We’ve got good things coming,” Marchese said.