By Travis Smola
It’s safe to say the Vicksburg varsity football team had its ups and downs during the 2022 season. It ultimately finished the regular season with a 5-4 record that’s not entirely indicative of how well the team played all year.
The Bulldogs lost a mid-September heartbreaker at home to Edwardsburg where they came within three points of snapping the Eddies’ 37-game Wolverine Conference winning streak. The Bulldogs lost on a last-second field goal by Edwardsburg.
Vicksburg bounced back with a 31-14 win on the road against Niles before a disastrous trip to Three Rivers where the Bulldogs lost 35-14. Even worse, starting quarterback Caden Bowling went down with an injury in the game and did not return.
The following week, the Bulldogs started quarterback Hunter Bell from the JV squad. The team responded with a 28-7 thrashing of Plainwell.
“Our kids did a really good job up front,” Head Coach Tom Marchese said. “They protected our sophomore quarterback. He managed the game really well, and made throws when he had to, made the right reads. Overall, a team win.”
The Trojans started the game with possession of the ball, but the Bulldog defense didn’t give them much to work with all night. The first Plainwell drive ended on a third and 15 sack by J.P. Culver. Vicksburg responded by marching down the field in 11 plays. Bo Skidmore scored on a six-yard scamper from a direct snap to make things 7-0 early.
Culver ended the next Trojans drive with another third down sack. It set up a short punt and a five-play drive that was capped off by a five-yard run from Xavier Wadley. The extra point made it 14-0 early. Vicksburg forced two more punts on the next two Plainwell drives, the second being capped by Culver’s third sack of the night, again on a third down.
“Defensively, we played outstanding in the first half,” Marchese said. “I don’t think they had a drive more than five plays. We pride ourselves on running to the ball and getting after the quarterback, and we did. We shut down the run.”
Wadley scored his second touchdown of the night on a seven-yard run with 1:32 left in the half. The extra point made it 21-0 at halftime. The Bulldogs got the ball first in the second half and marched down the field in 10 drives, most of them runs by Wadley, before Skidmore scored his second touchdown of the night on another direct snap and nine-yard run. The extra point made it 28-0. Plainwell narrowly avoided the shutout when a Vicksburg fumble allowed them to score with only 19 seconds left in the game to make it 28-7. Still, Marchese was pleased with the team’s performance.
“We faced a lot of adversity this week,” he said. “Adversity either makes you cower or get stronger, and I thought we did a good job and came and got stronger. It showed this week.”
By Travis Smola