Vicksburg football has early-season 4-1 record

Vicksburg players Collin Klinger, Evan Anderson, and Xavier Wadley. Photo by Travis Smola.

By Travis Smola

The Vicksburg varsity football team is playing solid at the start of the season with a 4-1 record through the first five games.

The Bulldogs annihilated Dowagiac 54-0 in their season opener. It was originally supposed to be a home game, but was moved to Niles because field upgrades were not finished yet. In that game, Vicksburg gave up zero passing yards.

The following week they went on the road to Sturgis and a 35-19 victory over the Trojans that was closer than it looked on the scoreboard. The Bulldogs scored on their opening drive on a two-yard gallop from Xavier Wadley. Kyler Dean’s extra point made it 7-0 early. The Trojans responded two possessions later with a score of their own to make it 7-7.

With a little over four minutes left in the first half, quarterback Evan Anderson completed three passes in a row to march his team down the field. His last pass was caught by Bryce Smith, who shook a couple of tacklers to get into the end zone on a 12-yard score. Dean’s extra point made it 14-7 at halftime.

Sturgis got the ball to start the second half and Vicksburg forced a quick three-and-out. On the ensuing drive, Anderson hit Keannen Miller deep for another touchdown to widen the gap to 21-7 with Dean’s extra point. With 4:41 left in the third, Sturgis scored again, but shanked the extra point to make things 21-13.

The Bulldogs came up short on their next two drives and the Trojans scored on their next possession to tighten the game even more. Sturgis went for two only to have RJ Vallier intercept the pass to keep it a two-point game.

On the subsequent Vicksburg possession, the Bulldogs put together a methodical seven-play drive that helped eat some time off the clock. Unfortunately, a high snap recovered by Wadley left Vicksburg facing a third and 19 from about midfield. Anderson dropped back and threw a perfect back shoulder 53-yard bomb to Logan Jones in the end zone to give Vicksburg some breathing room at 28-19 with the extra point with a little over three minutes left to play.

After the game, Head Coach Tom Marchese said taking a shot was the best option in that scenario, even if the ball got intercepted.

“It’s down here and it’s just as good as a punt. We still have still have our defense and they have to go 90 yards. If it was incomplete then we punt it and try to pin them deep,” Marchese said. “It was nice that Logan got behind it and Evan threw a great ball.”

On the next Sturgis drive, Vallier got his second pick of the game and returned it to the Sturgis four-yard line. On the next play Wadley took it in for his second rushing touchdown of the night and iced the game.

“We’ve still got a lot to clean up if you will,” Marchese said. “But our kids battled. You never know how you’re going to react when you face adversity for the first time. Last week we didn’t see any. So, it was nice to see that and get tested, it was good for our kids to bounce back and knock it down and make a play when they had to. That’s a good building block.”

The Bulldogs went on to beat Richland Gull Lake 17-14 the following week before getting their first loss of the season at Edwardsburg 49-0. Their most recent win was a 21-14 victory over Niles in the first home game in their newly renovated stadium.

Schoolcraft council discusses economic development

By Rob Peterson

While discussing goals for 2021, Schoolcraft village council member Mike Rochholz asked what the village can do to attract more businesses to the community.

Council members suggested tracking available properties, including their condition and rental rates, so that staff could assist potential business owners in their location search. While Village Manager Cheri Lutz does not have an inventory of properties, she indicated that she is generally the first point of contact for businesses who are considering a move to Schoolcraft.

County Commissioner John Gisler noted that Indiana had success in recruiting businesses by having an inventory of development-ready, pre-permitted industrial sites. Lutz answered that “the harsh reality” is that Schoolcraft will have a difficult time attracting manufacturing businesses without a sanitary sewer system.

The Council asked Lutz to set up a workshop so that they could discuss their goals for 2021, including a conversation about economic development efforts.

Even without the goals in place, the community is seeing growth. The Council approved a recommendation from the Planning Commission to allow medical offices at 403 and 413 North Grand. Both properties have been vacant for some time but will be filled when Michele Enright moves her occupational therapy business into the village from U Avenue.

Clark Logic, which owns several buildings in the village, is considering a project that will involve services to home schoolers and virtual students. The project will require a zoning change, which will go to the Planning Commission before it is considered by the Council.

While on the subject of zoning, the council was reminded that the Planning Commission will hear public comments on proposed zoning changes that will affect the entire village. The public is encouraged to attend the session, which will be held virtually Feb. 8..

In other business, the Council discussed the challenges of considering whether to hold the July 4 festivities this year. Not knowing what the future will hold, it is difficult to ask people to expend energy in planning an event that may or may not happen. No decision was made.

Council member Tod Carlin asked if a representative from the Michigan Department of Transportation could come to a future council meeting to discuss planned reconstruction of US-131 through the village. Lutz indicated that she would invite them when they are further along in their planning process.

She updated the council on the reconstruction project, indicating that the trenching of the highway will not open up an opportunity for installing a sewer main. Village President Keith Gunnett added, “I didn’t think we could put the pipes under a street made for heavy trucks anyway.”

Vicksburg woman lived an active life

By Rob Peterson

Nona Mattheis.

Nona Mattheis lived every moment of her 109 years. “She never let much grass grow under her feet,” said her youngest daughter, Margaret Miller of Schoolcraft.

The activity may have been a habit built from a young age, since she started working as a teenager to help support her father. She worked at Elam’s Stationery for a time, and then worked raising their family and tending to the animals on their 40-acre farm just south of Vicksburg. She sold the eggs from their chickens to make extra money while her husband, Vern, worked at the Lee Paper Company.

When Vern passed in 1965, she went to work at Arco in Schoolcraft. “She didn’t give up easily,” said Margaret.

She loved physical activity, starting with her teen years when she played basketball for Vicksburg and continuing until she was 100, when she finally stopped teaching line dancing. “She loved to dance,” said Margaret. “Every Saturday, she would drive the girls to the Helen Cover Center in Kalamazoo to dance. She enjoyed the heck out of it.”

Nona traveled frequently, taking trips that often included family. She took a train to Texas, and she took a camper to Alaska. She camped up and down the West Coast and watched whales off the East Coast. “She really loved to travel,” said her eldest daughter, Phyllis Barrett of Schoolcraft.

Her travels usually centered around her family, like her visits to her son while he served in the military or the annual family reunion at Round Lake.

One of her first trips, appropriately enough for someone so focused on her family, was to elope with Vern Mattheis to LaGrange in 1932, not long after they were set up on a blind date. They raised four children in Vicksburg and remained together until Vern passed away.

Her active life also included many acts of service, first to her family and then to her community. Much of that service involved food. “She was an excellent cook,” said Margaret. “She could cook just about anything. I loved her potatoes and dumpling soup that she would make on Saturdays.”

She brought enough food to the annual family reunion to feed everyone there, and she would feed the men who came to thresh wheat on their farm every year. She spent 21 years delivering food for Meals on Wheels, making a record number of deliveries. “She enjoyed being around people and doing things to help them,” said Margaret.

Her community service also included her involvement at Vicksburg United Methodist Church, the Vicksburg Community Center, the Eagles Lodge and the Rebekah Lodge, where she served as the Noble Grand.

She kept friends and family close her entire life. “I don’t think I ever saw her get mad or lose her patience,” said Phyllis.

Thanks to her active lifestyle, her independent nature, and her large support network, she was able to stay in her Vicksburg apartment until she was 104 years old. “Everyone kept an eye on her,” said Margaret, “but she was never under their thumb.”

She will be missed, but “We were blessed to have her for so long,” said Margaret.