Category Archives: Sports

54 Times 2

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A flock of Eagles stops Saugatuck’s ball carrier. Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.

By Mark Blentlinger

In each of its first two games, the Eagle football team has scored 54 points, only allowing 24 points between the two. On Sept. 13, the Eagles made a 2 1/2 hour trek to the southeast side of the state to face off against the Ottawa Lake/Whiteford Bobcats.

The Bobcats were putting their 38-home game winning streak on the line. The Eagles showed no mercy.

Although the Bobcats had the most offensive plays, with 69, they could not put much together, only totaling 266 yards for the game. The Eagles, however, had 41 plays, with 471 yards of total offense; 320-yards through the air and 151-yards on the ground, winning 54-24.

Alex Thole went 11/15 in passing, with five touchdowns and one interception. Three of Thole’s passing touchdowns were to Kobe Clark; one to Jimmy Downs and one to Parker Lawerence. Kobe Clark also had three rushing touchdowns, for a game total of six. The Bobcats with their veer offense were able to put up 24 points.

Against Saugatuck a week later, the Eagles defense was very strong and did not give up a single point to win 54-0. The Eagle offense was on fire, especially Senior Kobe Clark. He ran for 236 yards on 13 carries, with five rushing touchdowns, equaling 20.3 yards per carry. Alex Thole had 203 yards through the air, completing 9 of 13 passes. The longest pass, of 82 yards, was to Parker Lawrence for an Eagle score.

Eagles Beat Delton Kellogg

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Harmon Devries makes a catch against a Delton Kellogg defensive back. Photo by Stephanie Blentlinger, Lingering Memories Photography.

By Mark Blentlinger

The Schoolcraft Eagles football team’s offense was in normal fashion for its fifth victory of the season, putting up 67 points against the Panthers 14 tallies by Delton Kellogg.

The concerns over the Eastern Equine Encephalitis caused a rescheduled game between the Eagles and Panthers. The game was played on Saturday the 28th at 5 pm, on Roy Davis field.

The Eagles brought a 4-0 record into the contest, while the Panthers came in at 3-1. The Eagles were too strong on both sides of the ball, allowing only 14 points by Delton.

Senior Kobe Clark, hit pay dirt 5 times, his longest run coming off a 60-yard pass from Junior Alex Thole. Thole also connected with Junior Harmon Devries, for a 26-yard touchdown pass and a 52-yard touchdown pass to Junior Jimmy Downs. The Eagles final trips to the end zone came from Junior Trenton Cook, the first from 6-yards out. The second coming after the Panthers final score, when Cook weaved and dodged his way 65-yards down field.

For their next opponent the Eagles will travel south, down US131, to face off against the Falcons of Constantine, Friday, Oct. 4th.

Schoolcraft Equestrian Team Staying Competitive

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Left to right, standing: Mariah Flynn, Myra Delaney (Assistant Coach) Annabelle Ledlow, Brooklyn Hamelink, Faith Westfall, Katelyn Delaney, Alana Reed, Mikaylen Svboda, Amy Stahl (Assistant Coach), Morgan Hamelink. in front, seated: Head Coach Christine Rosey.

By Mark Blentlinger

The Equestrian competition season for the Eagles is not very long, with just three shows between the end of August and mid-September. However, the team practices year-round at the barn owned by Head Coach Christine Rosey. The athletes do not need to own their own horse in order to be part of the team. The Eagles were placed in Division B this season. After the regular season, the top two teams from each division get to participate in regional contests.

The latest competition was held at the St. Joseph County Fairgrounds. Day one saw Katelyn Delaney place fourth in Showmanship saddle-seat, on Lmi. Saddle-seat Equitation first place went to Annabelle Ledlow on M&M. The two-person relay had Eagles Annabelle Ledlow and Mariah Flynn finishing first on Kala and Dutchess. The team finished the first day in fourth place.

Day two of competition had the Eagles doing even better. Showmanship saddle-seat was won by Katelyn Delaney on Lmi. In Saddle-seat Equitation, first place went to Mikaylen Svboda on Mahera, second place was taken by fellow Eagle, Makaylen Flynn, on Dutchess. Equitation over-fences, 2nd place to Annabelle Ledlow on M&M. Ledlow also finished first in cloverleaf barrels and timed pole bending. The team finished day two in 3rd place.

Coach Rosey said she is very happy with how this season is going. In the 2017 season, the team totaled 34 points after the three shows. In 2018, the Eagles earned a total of 88 points. So far this season, and after only two shows, the team had earned 169 points.

After the final show of the 2019 season the Eagles finished in 4th place in class B Districts with a total score of 196 points, doubling last season’s score.

Eagle Volleyball On a Roll

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Adelyn Simkins holds the all-time career kill leader in Schoolcraft volleyball history.

By Mark Blentlinger

The varsity Eagle volleyball team has been on a roll this season, taking down opponent after opponent. The Eagles are showing exactly why they are the number one ranked team in the state in class C. In September, they defeated Gobles, Thornapple Kellogg, Hackett Catholic Prep, Portage Northern, Bedford, Forrest Hills Northern, Notre Dame Prep, Constantine, East Grand Rapids, Lake Orion, Dewitt and Portage Central.

On September 7, the Eagles volleyball team went 6-0 at Battle Creek Lakeview, where they earned their third straight tournament victory.

The following weekend they were challenged by division 1 and 2 teams at the Portage Central Invite, winning their pool before losing in the finals in three sets to division 2’s 2018 state champion team from Grand Rapids Christian.

“We’ve been playing really well the past few weeks and at some tough tournaments. The girls remain focused on a little improvement every day and keeping a high level of enthusiasm in the gym. They do a great job of pushing one another and staying focused on ‘us’ and what makes us better,” Coach Onken said.

The Eagles have four players well past the 100-dig mark so far for the season. Andelyn Simkins leads the pack with 193 digs. Kelby Goldschmeding, Allie Goldschmeding, and Kayla Onken add to the aggressive Eagle defense. “Our defense has been impressive. Kelby has settled into the libero role even more this season and has a great playing relationship with her neighbors on the court. She and Andelyn always share a few words after a play and as a coach, that constant communication between players during the match is very calming.”

Along with their defense, Schoolcraft’s middles, Maggie Morris and Anna Schuppel, have also come alive the past few weeks becoming more and more of an aggressive threat at the net. “Maggie and Anna have made a huge impact this year both offensively and defensively. They both seem to be finding their rhythm, swinging at balls they were tipping earlier in the season. Having that constant presence in the middle is a game changer for us,” Onken explained.

“Our right-side defense has really stepped up, especially in tournament play. Allie and Kayla have taken a lot of pride in the timing of their block and spacing on defense. They get a little greedier with the ground they can cover each week and that allows their teammates around them to commit to their responsibility.” Coach Onken added about her junior right-side attacker, Allie Goldschmeding, and setter, Kayla Onken.

Senior Andelyn Simkins was honored at the Eagles last home game when she surpassed the 2,000-kill mark for the Eagles. The accomplishment puts her name in the school’s record books as the all-time career kill leader. She currently is at 2,121 kills, with a lot of time left in her senior season. “What an accomplishment!” Onken said. “Andelyn had no idea, she doesn’t keep track of that and we don’t talk stats, so it was exciting to get to surprise her before our game last week with a gift and the announcement. Andelyn has been a tremendous player and teammate for us the fast few years,” Onken added. ‘Every accolade she receives is well earned, she’s the hardest working player I’ve coached and loves to share her knowledge and help her teammates. Truly a special player!”

The rest of the Eagle schedule consists of Delton Kellogg, Coloma, Galesburg Augusta, East Grand Rapids, Martin, Lawton, Fennville, Kalamazoo Christian, Lakewood, and Mattawan.

Bulldog Cross Country Competing in Tough Conference

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The girls cross country team sprints from the starting line.

By Travis Smola

Vicksburg’s cross country teams are competing well despite tough competition in what is, once again, a very difficult conference.

In one of their most recent matchups, against Allegan, the boys lost a close one to the Tigers, 26-29. Jacob Malocha and Joey Loriso were the top finishers for the Bulldogs. “On paper on the boy’s side they were supposed to beat us,” Head Coach Lucas Wolthuis said. “We ended up with a closer score than what was supposed to happen on paper. I challenged the kids, our top two, to get between their second and third runners, which they did, which was awesome to see.”

Overall the boys are ranked around seventh in the conference.

The girls’ team came away with a resounding victory against Allegan at the meet. An Allegan runner won the race outright, but Sawyer Barton, Savina Centofanti, Sam Richardson, Avalee Goodman and Hannah Fenwick took the next five spots after that, helping lead the Lady Bulldogs to a 20-41 victory.

“We wanted to see the girls negative split today, so start off with a little bit more of a controlled pace and then see their second and third miles be stronger,” Wolthuis said. “They came out a little bit stronger than what we wanted to do, but they still came away with some really solid times close to some personal bests.”

The teams have only run a couple other individual meets this year. Both teams defeated Edwardsburg on September 10, but they fell to Otsego, which is once again one of the toughest opponents in the conference. Wolthuis expects Plainwell to be a major contender this year too. But the girls’ team is in good position to make some noise at the end of the year.

“Our girls’ team is in a really great spot right now,” Wolthuis said. “They’re ranked third in the region.”

That is the last spot to go to state and he expects the team to keep dropping its times as the conference and regional meets approach. “I’m really impressed with where they are at and how they’re doing,” Wolthuis said of the girls’ team. “They’re a great group of young ladies who work very hard and I think they have a lot of good things ahead of them.”

Vicksburg Football Tested in Victory over Plainwell

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A Plainwell ball carrier doesn’t get far as a swarm of Bulldogs are about to chase him down.

By Travis Smola

The Vicksburg varsity football team record went 2-0 after a major 35-16 victory over Plainwell in early September.

The Trojans effectively shut down the Bulldogs’ run game. But the Plainwell defense had no response to junior quarterback Jacob Conklin’s arm, or his receivers, who found favorable man matchups and soft spots in the Trojan’s zone defense all night.

The Bulldogs found those soft spots early on a 19-yard strike from Conklin to Chase Myers in the left corner of the end zone for the first touchdown of the game. Conklin’s extra point made things 7-0 early. On the response series from Plainwell, the Trojans used a heavy and deceptive run attack to drive, but the series stalled on a fourth down and four from their own 41-yard line.

Vicksburg took advantage of the good field position and on only the third play of the resulting drive, Conklin hit Myers again for a 24-yard score. The extra point made the score 14-0.

“He (Conklin) did a really good job of throwing the ball tonight and not staring down the receivers, looking them off, taking what the defense is giving you,” Head Coach Tom Marchese said. “And the receivers made plays for him.”

The two teams traded defensive blows back and forth for a few series after that. Cold, rainy conditions resulted in a slick football and a Bulldog turnover on their own 17-yard line. The Trojans capitalized a few plays later with a two-yard score. But the two-point PAT attempt was no good.

The weather came into play again on the next drive after a penalty negated a huge Conklin pass play to Myers. The Bulldogs were forced to punt, but the snap went high, resulting in a safety. On their following possession, Plainwell took the lead 16-14 with 1:30 left to play in the first half.

Vicksburg responded with a perfect two-minute drill. They drove down the field in seven plays with Myers and freshman Toby Stock both catching key passes. Finally, on a third and twenty-three with just 23 seconds left in the half, Conklin threaded a perfect pass to Stock right in front of a defender and Stock’s momentum carried him backwards into the endzone for the score. The extra point made it 21-16 at the half.

“That was really big to go up by five knowing they have the ball in the second half to come out,” Marchese said.

In the second half, the Bulldog defense held the Trojans scoreless. Conklin threw for two more touchdowns to Stock of 30 and 31 yards secure the win. Late in the game Christian Roth had a key interception to stop a Plainwell drive at the goal line.

The whole game played right into what Marchese has been preaching in practice. “I keep telling the kids every week, no matter who you play, you’re going to face adversity,” Marchese said. “Week one we didn’t see any, but week two we did.”

The wins give the Bulldogs some good momentum as headed into their first road game of the season against South Haven the next week, posting a win at 32-6. They next lost to Edwardsburg 54-7 in a blow out.

Vicksburg Reclaims Swine Bone Against Three Rivers

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Vicksburg running back Jared Gorsline stiff arms a Three Rivers tackler. Steve McCowen #53 follows the play with #1 Jacob Conklin in the background. Photo by Travis Smola.

By Travis Smola

The Vicksburg varsity football team were heavy favorites going into their road game against Three Rivers. But the Wildcats didn’t give up the coveted swine bone trophy without a fight.

The Bulldogs defeated their rivals 49-42 and bettered their record to 4-1 in a game that was closer than most expected. “We saw a lot of situations we haven’t seen all year,” Head Coach Tom Marchese said. “We’d like to tackle a little bit better and cover in space better.”

Mostly the game was the “Jacob Conklin show” as he used his legs to find the end zone five times. He also passed to Chase Myers for another two. The two teams went scoreless for the first two possessions before Conklin scored on a two-yard keeper. He followed that up with a three-yard scramble and successful PAT to make things 14-0 in the second quarter.

But Three Rivers marched over 60 yards in four plays to score and make things 14-7 with just over 1:10 left in the first half. Vicksburg marched down the field to the Wildcats’ 43-yard line, giving the Bulldogs a chance at a deep shot with just five seconds left. Conklin’s pass to Toby Stock was incomplete, but Stock drew a pass interference in the end zone. This set up Vicksburg at the Three Rivers 28 with time for one play. Conklin threw a perfect pass in the left end zone, hitting Myers in stride for an easy touchdown to extend the lead 21-7.

The Wildcats cut the gap back to seven with their first possession of the second half. But the Bulldogs went on a long drive and Conklin scored on a two-yard keeper to make it 28-14. On the next Wildcats possession, Kyle Rose deflected a pass that was intercepted by Jayce Todd. Conklin made it count with a seven-yard score to make the score 35-14.

Three Rivers answered again after that to make things 35-21, but Conklin hit Myers again with a short screen that Myers turned into a 21-yard scoring play. The PAT made it 42-28.
After the loss to Edwardsburg the week before, Vicksburg was playing hurt this week. The team was forced to play Conklin and Toby Stock in at safety due to injuries. “We’re pretty talented, but we’re not terribly deep,” Marchese said. “Injuries hurt us, so we’ve got to overcome a little bit.”

Three Rivers made a charge near the end of the game and scored two touchdowns to cut the score to 42-35. With multiple injuries at running back, the team was forced into using screens and Conklin’s scrambling ability to eat clock at the end. Conklin iced the game with a huge, 48-yard run where he stiff-armed several defenders and spun out of a tackler on the way to the end zone.

The Wildcats scored late to make it 49-42, but Vicksburg managed to recover two onside kick attempts and run the clock out. It was a meaningful win after their first loss of the year to Edwardsburg the week prior, but the Bulldogs have work to do, especially with the running game and defense. “We’ll keep working on it,” Marchese said. “We’ve got to get our backs as many reps as possible.”