Football and full stands are back

Malachi Sampley. Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.

By Mark Blentlinger

After an unusual 2020 season, the Schoolcraft Eagles made it all the way to the state semi-finals, ending with a loss to state champion New Lothrop. Twenty seniors graduated last spring, so Coach Ferency reloaded the Eagles with lots of new faces. The Eagles’ first test was a visit from the Rangers of Cassopolis at Roy Davis Field on August 26.

The Eagles started on offense, receiving the kick from the Rangers. Schoolcraft fans saw a different type of offense. For the past three seasons, the Eagles were predominantly a throwing team. This year, the Eagles came out using more of a ground attack. Sophomore Ryan Ling is the Eagles’ signal caller, with senior Nolan Strake, sophomore Isaac Noora, sophomore Houston Hodges and senior Kanaan Burgess taking Ling’s handoffs. The Eagles’ first offensive series of 2021-22 season resulted in Nolan Strake hitting paydirt from the 3-yard line.

Immediately following the Strake touchdown, fans witnessed history for Schoolcraft when senior Hannah Thompson, a Schoolcraft soccer star, became the first female player to score points for Schoolcraft football when she kicked the ball through the uprights.

The Eagles’ lead would not last long. After the Rangers took over at the 6:25 mark in the first quarter, Collin Bogue, senior for the Rangers, took it right down the field on their 3rd play, running 78 yards for a touchdown. Their two-point conversion was successful, taking the lead at 8-7.

After halftime, the Rangers again knocked on the endzone’s door, but the Eagles defense stood tough, keeping the Rangers from entering the endzone from the 1-yard line in two straight plays.

Neither team was able to put anything together until the 4th quarter when again Nolan Strake found himself in the Rangers’ endzone celebrating with his teammates. Thompson’s kick sailed left of the upright, and the Eagles led, 13-8.

Rangers’ Daishean Jamison found some open lanes in the Eagles’ kickoff and took it 93 yards to the house. Cassopolis’ two-point conversion was unsuccessful. The Eagles found themselves down again 13-14, until Strake found his way into the endzone one last time. The Eagles’ two-point conversion failed. With six minutes left, the Rangers worked their way back down the field where they struck again from 5 yards out, putting them up 20-19. The Eagles had one last drive with 2:30 left on the clock. The last pass was intercepted in the endzone, giving the Rangers the win and handing the Eagles their first opening home game loss since 2011.

The Eagles led the stats with 68 total plays to the Rangers’ 42. Schoolcraft had 363 yards of total offense while Cassopolis ended with 248.

The Eagles continued their season in Centreville September 2 with another loss, 28-7.

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