09-24-2020 Tri-City Area Sports

COLOMA WINS A THRILLER 36-34… Coloma Comet Jacobie Bonds looks for a crack he can burst through, as teammate Kevin Hearn looks to add blocking support. Bonds rushed six times for 31 yards to help Coloma defeat the Panthers of Delton Kellogg 36-34, on Friday Sept. 18. It was the season opener for both teams on Delton Kellogg’s newly dedicated athletic stadium. (TCR photo by Dave Vollrath)

Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele

Hartford football begins 2020 season with 41-14 loss at Cassopolis

Last Friday night, Sept. 18, the Hartford Indian football team kicked off their 2020 season by traveling to Cassopolis to take on the Rangers. The Indians come into this season with plenty of optimism despite an eventful offseason that peaked with the hiring of a new coach and a low point when the season was moved to spring, then back to fall. The team has the potential to do good things this year, but everything has to fall in place just right.

Cassopolis came into the game having taken 14-of-18 games in the series with Hartford since 1950, and winning all three meetings as conference members by a combined score of 152-0. Hartford did manage to score some points in this contest; however, they fell to the Rangers in a 41-14 defeat that was much closer than the final score would indicate.

The Indians were doomed by five turnovers in the game, including two pick-six by the Rangers that put the game out of reach in the late part of the first half. But, give Hartford some credit; they battled the entire game and actually managed to win the scoreboard battle in the second half. Be patient, Indian fans; this group really is working hard.

In terms of the box score the host Rangers took a 7-0 lead after the first quarter of play, before opening the lead up to 35-6 at the half thanks to a 28-point second quarter scoring blitz. Cassopolis added to their lead in the third quarter building the Indian deficit to 41-6 with their lone points of the second half, before the Indians on a running clock scored the final points of the game in the fourth quarter. But it was much too late to make any sort of dent in the final result.

Hartford managed two scoring plays in the game, one coming through the air and one coming on the ground. The first touchdown of the season for the Indians was scored with just 38 seconds left in the first half, when Donovan Sikes hit Dylan Voss for a 13-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion attempt failed on that scoring drive. The second, and final, touchdown of the game was scored with 2:25 left in the game on a 24-yard run by Aaron Sinclair. The Indians went for the two-point conversion attempt once again, and was successful on a pass from Sikes to Oscar Trevino.

The Indians managed 180 yards of total offense. Of that total, 101 yards were rushing and 79 yards were passing. Leading the rushing attack for Hartford was Aaron Sinclair who carried the ball nine times for 82 yards and a touchdown, while Donovan Sikes rushed for 13 yards on four carries. Sikes was 8-of-16 passing for 79 yards and a touchdown, but also threw three interceptions. Leading the receiving core was Dylan Voss who caught four passes for 45 yards and a touchdown, while Sinclair caught two passes for 24 yards.

On defense, the Indians were led by Oscar Trevino who was the only player in double-digits in tackles with 11. Tanner Kinchen added nine tackles, while Alex Cook pitched in eight tackles. Hartford recovered three fumbles in the game, with Trevino, Kinchen and Owen Pitcher picking up one each.

Hartford is currently 0-1 on the season, and has the same record in Southwest 10 Conference action. The Indians will hit the road for the second straight time this Friday, Sept. 25, as they travel to Mendon to take on a Hornets team that is 1-0 on the season after a 26-24 win over White Pigeon last week.

Hartford soccer defeats staunch Hillsdale Academy squad, 5-1

Last week, the Hartford Indian soccer team continued their shortened season with just one match during the week; but, it was against some rather tough competition. The team was coming into the week’s action having played four matches in the week prior, and won three of them. The Indians are young, with just one senior and two juniors among the starting 11 players. The future is bright for this group, but some up-and-down moments can be expected in the near term.

On Thursday, Sept. 17, the team hosted non-conference opponent Hillsdale Academy in their lone match of the week. The Colts were among the top-15 teams in the state in Division 4 a year ago, finishing with a 16-3-1 record. This matchup came about due to mutual interest by both teams, both of which who were eager to play some much needed competition to see where they are at early in this young season.

The match was tight in the first half, with the two teams exchanging goals and leading to a 1-1 tie after the opening 40 minutes. But, after what must have been an inspiring halftime speech by Head Coach Nick Blackmer, the Indians turned up their game in the second half in a big way. The team scored four goals in the final 40 minutes, and turned a tight contest into a 5-1 rout.

The Indians got their five goals courtesy of two different players: Alan Gonzalez (3) and Caiden Smith (2). Assists were credited to Gonzalez, Aaron Lopez-Robles and Yael Sanchez-Lopez. Goalkeeper Kaden Johnson recorded eight saves in net to earn the victory.

Hartford is currently 4-1 on the season, and possesses a 1-0 record in Southwest 10 Conference action. The Indians will return to a busy schedule this week, playing three matches in four days. They began the week by traveling to Bangor on Monday for a conference match against the Vikings, before traveling to Bloomingdale on Wednesday, Sept. 23 for their second conference match of the week against the Cardinals. They will finish the week today, Sept. 24, with a home non-conference match against Kalamazoo Christian.

Hartford volleyball has busy, tough week; goes winless

Last week, the Hartford Lady Indian volleyball team continued their 2020 season with another week of busy conference match and tournament action. The first week of the campaign was a bit of a struggle for this up-and-coming team, with this group of Lady Indians beginning their season with a 1-3 record. Make no mistake, the results are misleading and do not show all of the hard work the team has been putting in both during the summer and now during the season.

On Tuesday, Sept. 15, the team traveled to Cassopolis to take on the Lady Rangers in their first conference match of the season. Despite a valiant effort in the opening set, this match would be decided in straight sets with the Lady Indians falling in this one, 28-26, 25-3, and 25-8. Again, despite the results, the first set going past the 25-point mark shows that this group has the ability to play together as a team but needs to be more consistent.

In terms of statistics, Hartford was led in aces by Karly Manning with two while Khashya McCoy and Mary Pultz served an ace each. Alexis Snodgrass led the team in kills with seven, while Mercedes Requenes posted two kills and McCoy posted a kill. Ariah Jordan led the team in digs with nine, while Snodgrass posted seven digs and Requenes posted six digs. Other statistical leaders included Manning with six assists and McCoy with two blocks.

On Thursday, Sept. 17 the team traveled to Centreville for their second, and final, Southwest 10 Conference match of the week to take on the Lady Bulldogs. Along with Mendon, everyone expects to see Centreville near the top of the conference standings at the end of the season, and for good reason. Despite another gutty effort by the Lady Indians they fell in straight sets, 25-11, 25-10 and, 25-18.

In terms of statistics, Hartford was led in aces by Marissa Solis with two while Kaelyn Johnson also served an ace. Alexis Snodgrass led the team in kills with three, while Khashya McCoy posted two kills. Mercedes Requenes led the team in digs with six, while Vanessa Delarosa posted five digs and Ariah Jordan posted four digs. Other statistical leaders included Karly Manning with four assists.

On Saturday, Sept. 19, the team traveled to Decatur to compete in the Decatur Raider Varsity Invitational. Usually, spectators would see more than four teams at a Saturday tournament in years past. But this year, due to concerns over the coronavirus, many Saturday events have either been scaled down to quads or canceled altogether. Like their tournament last week, this event featured three other teams: the host Lady Raiders, Comstock and Lawton. Any volleyball tournament on a Saturday this year is expected to be much smaller than usual and it may continue to be that way for quite some time, even past this season.

The tournament featured head-to-head matchups between the teams, meaning that Hartford played in three separate matches on the day. In their first match, the Lady Indians went up against the Lady Colts of Comstock and came up short in straight sets, 25-14 and 25-14. In their second match of the day, the team went up against Lawton and had an exciting match all the way through; ultimately, the Lady Devils got the best of the Lady Indians, winning 25-8, 23-25, and 15-6. The final match of the quad came against the host, and Southwest 10 Conference foe, Decatur and Hartford once again fell in straight sets, 25-16 and 25-19.

In terms of statistics for the entire day, Hartford was led in aces by Mary Pultz with four while Meghan Deckard, Vanessa Delarosa, Ariah Jordan and Alexis Snodgrass each posted three aces each. Snodgrass led the team in kills with eight, while Khashya McCoy posted seven kills and Mercedes Requenes posted four kills. Ariah Jordan led the team in digs with 25, while Delarosa posted 11 digs and Snodgrass posted 10 digs. Other statistical leaders included Snodgrass with 14 assists and McCoy and Snodgrass with a block each.

Hartford is currently 1-8 on the season, and is currently 0-2 in Southwest 10 Conference action. The ladies will have played on back-to-back nights this week, with one of those matches counting towards the conference standings. They played at New Buffalo in non-conference action against the Lady Bison on Monday before traveling to Bloomingdale to take on the Lady Cardinals in Southwest 10 Conference play one night later, on Tuesday, Sept. 22.

As always, GO INDIANS!

Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant

Panther football wins 49-6

The Panthers took on the Galesburg-Augusta Rams to get the delayed football season underway last week. The weather was perfect but the setting was unusual with a limited number of spectators and no marching band. The Panthers wasted no time after receiving the opening kickoff and taking it out to the 50 yard line. Reminiscent of past seasons the first play was a long one, a perfect pass from Tyson Williams to Jordan Abney who got behind and outran the defender for a touchdown with just 16 seconds off the clock. It was all Watervliet after that.

The Panthers finished the game with eight touchdowns. Five of those came on the ground, two on passes, and one was an interception returned for a score by Don Smith. Smith finished with 108 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 16 carries. Brandon Petty, a recent transfer from South Haven, was the most electric runner of the evening gaining 89 yards and scoring twice on just four impressive carries. Aaron Nave had 63 yards on two carries and one reception, including a solid 30-yard scamper. On the receiving side Abney led with 50 yards and the one TD, while Evan Hutchins caught one pass for a 44-yard touchdown and also had a pair of interceptions and led the defense with 10 tackles. Austin Wilmoth had a score on a two-yard run.

The Panthers had 373 total yards to 208 for the Rams, handily leading the rushing attack 256 yards to 47. The key to the game was four Rams turnovers. The Panthers came up with an interception whenever the Rams got some momentum.

Game notes: the Panthers didn’t have any punts, the Rams punted just twice late in the game. There was one successful extra point in a game with nine touchdowns, a kick by Panther Javier Gutierrez in the second quarter. The Panthers host 0-1 Fennville on Friday night. Fennville lost their first game of the season to Lawton, 50-7.

Soccer beats Coloma and loses to Fennville

The 3-0 Panther boys soccer team went into Coloma on Wednesday, Sept. 16, hoping to stay perfect against the 1-1 Comets, who they beat last year 4-0 in the first ever meeting of the two teams. That is exactly what they did, winning 4-1.

The Panthers displayed strong ball control all game, continually pressuring the Comet defense until eventually scoring. In the 16th minute, Alex Mejia scored the first goal with an assist from Nathan Isbrecht for the only score in the first half. Zach Hastings made three saves in net, Eric Perez Cruz and Brady Bornas helped control the midfield, Andrew Chisek with the help of Drew Van Lente, Zeke Alvarado, Austin Wilmoth and Ryan Knapp kept the ball away from the Panther goal.

The constant Panther pressure started to wear on the Comets in the second half when Brennan Bornas scored with his left foot for what Coach Doug Bornas said was the shot of the game. “For an athlete who plays far more basketball than soccer, he can certainly play the game well when he puts his mind to it.”

In the 66th minute Brady and Brennan converted for a 3-0 lead, as Brennan set up Brady for his first goal of the night. Coloma scored to cut the lead to 3-1 and then Brady scored his second goal of the night off a throw-in from Alex to make the final 4-1.

A solid Fennville (4-3) squad handed the Panthers their first loss of the season on Monday, Sept. 21. In an early-season battle for the top spot in their SAC division Fennville scored in the first and last minute of the game and won 4-1, dropping the Panthers to 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the conference.

Zach Hastings made seven saves in goal, including a penalty kick save in the 16th minute to give his team a chance late in the game. Down 2-0 with the first half winding down Brennan Bornas made a run down the outside, beat the defender and fed the ball across to Nathan Isbrecht who got to it just before the Fennville keeper and put it in the back of the net for the lone goal of the evening for the Panthers.

The team played well in the second half but could not get a goal, while the Blackhawks added two. The Panthers play again Friday against a Kalamazoo home school team.

Volleyball wins one, loses one

The Panther volleyball team went to River Valley on Tuesday, Sept. 15 and beat the Mustangs in three games.

Coach Edie Daugherty said the girls delivered tough and aggressive serves along with a strong offense. Samantha Dietz led the team with eight kills, seven aces and 10 digs. Myah Hobson put up four defensive blocks and dominated from the Panther side of the net. Setter Grace Chisek had 16 assists and three kills. Addison Riley had two blocks and five kills from the middle and Abbigayle Roberts added three kills from outside attacks. Coach Daugherty said the young group of athletes continues to grow and gel together as they prepare for conference play.

Team Stats: Grace Chisek – 16 assists, 3 kills, 3 digs; Samantha Dietz – 8 kills, 7 aces, 10 digs; Myah Hobson – 2 kills, 4 blocks; Addison Riley – 5 kills, 2 blocks; Jaylie Querfurth – 4 aces; Natalie Hart – 2 aces, 3 kills; Abby Roberts – 3 kills, 1 dig; Lilly Lefor – 1 dig, 4 assist; Ali Pline – 1 ace; Ellie Golden – 3 ace, 5 digs

On Thursday, Sept. 17 the team flipped the script and fell to Saugatuck in three games at home. In all three games they played point for point against the seasoned Saugatuck lineup but couldn’t grab the lead at the end.

The Panthers struggled to run a consistent offense against Saugatuck’s serves. They battled defensively, picking up many defensive digs and showed their resilience in keeping the ball in play during long rallies. Strategic tipping by the Indians caused problems for the Panthers. Despite the loss the young Panther team continues to improve. The top offensive players were Samantha Dietz with eight kills, and Myah Hobson with five kills. Setter Grace Chisek had 13 assists. The top defensive players were Samantha Dietz with 15 digs and Grace Chisek with 13 digs. Samantha Dietz also led the team with three aces. The next match for the team is tonight (Sept. 24) in the Panther gym.

Cross-Country hosts conference meet

The lean cross-country schedule featured a home meet last week with teams from Coloma, Fennville, and Saugatuck. The perennially strong Saugatuck team won the meet, which was run on a course that was inadvertently a bit longer than intended. Ezra Troyer (19:19) led the boys team, finishing fourth overall. Camdon Geisler (20:19), German Casiano (20:29), Jimmy Kolosowsky (21:13), and Aaron Leoni (21:53) were the top Panthers.

On the girl’s side Morgan Lowell (24:20) was the top runner, followed by Abby Lomoro (27:41), Kristina Swanson (28:02), Aria Richards (28:06) and Brenda Romero (28:17).

Press Box Player of the Week!

By John Oliphant

Tri-City Record Press Box Player of the Week for Sept. 24, 2020 is Watervliet’s Nathan Isbrecht. Nathan opened the season with an impressive six goals in a game against Parchment and leads the team with ten goals on the season. The six goals in a single game put Nathan in the MHSAA record books with the fifth-highest number of goals in a game by a single player.

We know what kind of soccer player he is around here, and his reputation as an all-district player last season is starting to garner attention in the region as he was recently named the WSJM Berrien County Student Athlete of the Week for his fast start to the soccer season. He’s also a top student at Watervliet high school, where he’s a junior.

Nathan is the team’s offensive leader, but is a humble player who has no problem setting up his teammates to score. Nathan has been playing soccer since he was five years old, and plays almost year-round on local club teams. He’s also a key member of the Panther wrestling team but soccer is where his heart is, working hard in the off-season to prepare for the fall. His goal this year is to get past the first round of the playoffs and win a district title.

Congratulations Nathan!

Comets win with the long ball; Goodline tosses 4 TDs in opening win

The Coloma Comets, after waiting out several weeks for the 2020 high school football season to begin, came out slinging the ball over the top at Delton Kellogg’s brand new stadium while the Panthers pounded out one first down after another on the ground. Despite trailing Delton Kellogg on most of the offensive statistics, Coloma found a way to slow down the Panthers just enough to come away with a season opening 36-34 victory.

The first eight minutes pretty much told the story of the game. The Panthers took the opening kickoff and marched down the field keeping it on the ground and scoring a touchdown on a short 2-yard run. The extra point try was no good. The Comets then took all of three plays, capped off by a 90-yard touchdown pass from Drew Goodline to Comet receiver Noah Schwanke who hauled the pass in around the Comet 35 yard line and then outraced the Panther defenders to the end zone, for the tying touchdown. Coloma’s 2-point try was no good. In fact, Coloma was 0-6 on the night on extra point tries.

The Panthers on the night had 79 offensive plays, all but 10 on the ground, to Coloma’s 41 plays. First downs were in favor of the Panthers also, by a 25 to 12 count. Coloma was out rushed to the tune of 327 yards to 123, but Coloma’s success came through the air as they had 203 passing yards to only 23 for the home team.

Coloma quarterback Drew Goodline had a great start to his senior season. He threw only nine times; but he completed seven of them including touchdowns of 90, 12, 12, and a 50-yarder in the last minute to Cody Palgen to give the Comets their final advantage. In addition to tossing those bombs, Drew also ran four times for 47 yards with a 2-yard keeper for a score.

Cody Palgen also had an outstanding game, catching three passes for 78 yards including that game winner. On defense he was in on five tackles, had a huge fumble recovery, and intercepted the Panther’s final pass ending their hopes.

The Panthers huge offensive line and big backs had the Comets defense on their heels most of the night, and seemed to be able to take up big chunks of yardage with each snap. The smaller Comets however, were not deterred and never backed down as they battled the entire game. Coloma made the biggest stops when they needed them most, and even though they came out a little bruised they earned a big win.

Coloma led 30-20 entering the fourth quarter, but DK scored consecutive touchdowns with the second one giving them a 34-30 lead with under two minutes to play. Schwanke then brought the kickoff back to around midfield, where Goodline hooked up on the game winning 50 yarder to Palgen with 1:39 left in the game. DK moved the ball, with the help of an interference penalty against the Comets, into Comet territory where Palgen intercepted the last ditch pass for the Panthers to seal Coloma’s win on the road.

Noah Schwanke had a solid effort on both sides of the ball catching two passes, both for touchdowns, including that 90-yard bomb early in the game. On defense he was in on 12 tackles. Timmy Schroeder led the Comet defense with 13 tackles, and added a touchdown catch from 12 yards on offense. James Mathis and Jonen Bravo each had eight tackles for Coloma, while Jamie Rocha chipped in with seven.

On the offensive side of the ball Jacobie Bonds had 34 yards on six carries, mostly up the middle where the big boys were waiting. James Mathis had nine carries for 22 yards.

Coloma plays next on Friday, Sept. 25 at home against another tough conference opponent in Kalamazoo United. Spectators once again are limited to the parents of the participants, and you must have a ticket provided by the athletic department to gain entry. Masks are required as well.

Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath

Coloma boys soccer falls at home to Watervliet, 4-1

The Coloma soccer team fell to 1-2 on the season after suffering a home loss to the Panthers by a score of 4-1. Coach Joe Schmidt’s Comets played the Panthers tough in the first half but gave up a goal in the 28th minute following a Comet defensive breakdown, and trailed 1-0 at the half. Watervliet held Coloma scoreless until the 66th minute when Layne Whitaker was able to find his brother Lucian Whitaker in transition for the lone Comet goal. But it was too little too late, as the Panthers tacked on three goals in the second half. Wes Seabury in goal for the Comets stopped 12 Watervliet shots on the day.

Coloma volleyball opens season with a win

The Coloma volleyball team, after spending 4-5 weeks practicing outdoors because of COVID-19 related restrictions, finally was able to move back into the gym and made the most of it by coming away with a season opening victory against Kalamazoo Hackett, 25-17, 27-25, 25-21. The Comets, coached by Kim Swisher, also had to wait longer than normal for the season to begin. But the wait and inconveniences were worth it as the Comets move to 1-0 on the new season.

For the winning team Maddie McQuillan had two kills, 14 assists, four aces, and nine digs. Maurissa LaGrow had one kill and 14 assists. Adian Allmon had two kills, two aces, and five digs. Gracie Whitaker had four kills and a dig and Addy Kimmerly had three digs. Taryn Blazier had a good game with eight kills, three aces, and two digs while Chloe Mathis had nine digs, Mia Cole had two kills, five aces, and 18 digs. Clara Kimmerly had one kill and one dig.

Coloma cross-country runs well in first SAC league meet

The Coloma Comet cross-country teams, coached by Courtney Churchill, ran in the SAC league meet in Watervliet on Sept. 16. Both boys and girls ran pretty well, with the girls finishing in third place and the boys running in second.

For the girls, Ava Genovese was the first Comet to cross the finish line coming in 4th overall in a time of 22:58.45. Chloe Williams and Abby Vandermolen finished in 8th and 9th respectively, in times of 23:55.06 and 24:04.26. Camryn Brown came in 12th place in a time of 24:48.63.

On the boys side, the freshman running phenom Boden Genovese had a great run around the Panther x-country course. He finished in second place overall, in a time of 18:53.05 and only 12 seconds behind the winning time by a senior from Fennville. Boden led the way as Coloma placed four runners in the top 10. Jake Ickes and Blane Sutherland also ran well for the Comets and finished 7th and 8th respectively, crossing in times of 19:27.35 and 19:53.33. Ethan Vandermolen was the next Comet, finishing in 10th overall in a time of 20:14.47. The 5th Coloma runner was Caeleb Ishmael finishing in a time of 22:35.23, giving him the 23rd spot overall.

The Coloma Press Box is extremely happy that the Comets fall sports season is finally in full swing. But for those fortunate to be allowed to attend Coloma’s games, they must continue to follow the COVID-19 guidelines for social distancing when possible and the wearing of masks so we can continue