ALL HAIL THE INDIANS… The Hartford varsity soccer squad captured the Southwest 10 conference championship last week. The team, under the leadership of head coach Nick Blackmer, posted a 12-2 record and remained undefeated at 7-0 in the Southwest 10 conference.
By Kristy Noack
The Tri-City Record would like to welcome back veteran Press Box reporter Kristy Noack. Kristy will be filling in as sports reporter for Coloma and Watervliet sports for one more week. The Tri-City Record is excited to welcome Jerrod Birmele to HHS Press Box.
Comet quick start foiled by Kalamazoo United
The Comets of Coloma welcomed Kalamazoo United to town Friday night for a Southwest Athletic Conference matchup that also happened to be homecoming. Although the game started on a high note, the optimism faded fast for both Coloma players and fans.
Kalamazoo opened the game with a fumble which was jumped on by Coloma’s Trent Brown. With the ball in hand, Comet quarterback Zach Goodline had a fast break for the end zone that resulted in a quick six points for Coloma. The two-point conversion attempt failed, but Coloma led 6-0.
However, a football game isn’t decided in the first three minutes of play, and things went downhill for the Comets quickly after that.
Kalamazoo scored 21 first-quarter points to lead 21-6 at the close of 12 minutes. The squad then tacked on another 29 points in the second quarter to lead 50-6 at the half.
With the clock running in the second half, Kalamazoo’s second string got in on the action and scored seven points in the third quarter and 13 in the fourth to win the 70-6.
Coloma was unable to do much on offense or defense. The entire team struggled and – near the end of the second quarter – took to bickering at each other. The players’ frustrations were evident.
Kalamazoo United came into the contest undefeated at 5-0 having picked off Watervliet the week prior 77-20. So, the Comets knew Friday was going to be an exceptional test.
With the loss, Coloma drops to 3-3 on the season. The Comets have lost two straight games.
On Friday, Coloma will take on Schoolcraft on the road. The Eagles hold a 5-1 record and are on a three-game win streak.
It’s going to be another tough game for Coloma. To ensure a guaranteed playoff spot, the Comets will need to win out the last three contests of the season. They may be able to squeak in with only five wins but, in that scenario, it will come down to playoff points. Can Coloma piece together accurate throwing combined with speedy receiving and strong defense? They’ll need to if they have any hope of taking Schoolcraft to task.
Panthers struggle in 63-22 loss to Delton Kellogg
The Panther football team is reeling. The squad is 2-4 and has not won a game since September 7. Additionally, Watervliet is on the cusp of not making the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
It’s a tough position for head coach Jeremy Andrews to face. His squad has been hit hard with injuries this season, including one that has ended starting quarterback Garrett Matthews’ season prematurely.
Matthews was out Friday as the Panthers played their 2018 Homecoming game against Delton Kellogg. In at quarterback was Don Smith III, who, according to Andrews, had taken snaps all week in case the news on Matthews was not good.
Smith proved agile in the pocket and was able to pick up some yardage against Delton Kellogg but it wasn’t enough to overcome the 63-22 drubbing suffered by the Panthers.
DK got off to a quick start with a 28-8 first quarter lead. Their rapid fire offense added 21 points in the second quarter, while Watervliet tacked on six. At the half, it was DK 49-14.
DK switched out most of their first string in the second half of the game and led 56-22 in the third and 63-22 at game’s end.
Sophomore Smith was 10 of 21 for 155 yards with two touchdowns. He was also the team’s leading rusher with 28 carries for 104 yards and one TD. Smith led the team with six tackles.
Jakob Aldrich caught five passes for 110 yards and one TD. Kris Lenox caught two passes for 15 yards and one touchdown and tallied 35 yards on six carries.
Isaac Wilmouth took the handoff six times for 30 yards. Logan Geisler had two catches for 15 yards, and Johnny Benavidez caught one pass for 21 yards.
Watervliet churned up 305 offensive yards.
Friday will prove to be another test as the Panthers head to Constantine to take on the 5-1 Falcons. Watervliet desperately needs a win, if only to get a boost of confidence.
Coloma and Watervliet trekkers hit the trail at county-wide invitational
Saturday morning dawned on Riverview Park in St. Joseph as cross country runners from schools across the county participated in the Berrien County Invitational.
Berrien Springs won the men’s championship with 40 points. Trekkers from Watervliet finished in fourth place with 121 points, while Coloma came in sixth with 175 points.
The top area finisher was junior Gus Hinch from Watervliet. He placed 15th overall out of 127 runners with a time of 17:53.3.
Coloma’s Adiel Granados was 18th overall and matched his season record time of 18:05.1.
LOOKING FOR A LINE… Coloma quarterback Zach Goodline looks for a clear line as he scampers out of the pocket Friday night in the Comets’ bid against Kalamazoo United. Coloma lost their homecoming contest 70-6 and dropped to 3-3 on the season. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)
Watervliet’s Ezra Troyer took 21st place (18:13.1), while teammates Kody Edmonds and Kade Van Niel finished 33rd and 34th place, respectively, with times of 18:46.0 and 18:46.3.
Matthew Hanks of Watervliet took 43rd place (18:59.8). Watervliet’s Trevor Pelton and Coloma’s Ethan Vandermolen finished 44th and 45th, respectively, with times of 19:03.5 and 19:04.3.
In the women’s division, St. Joseph earned the championship with 33 points. Coloma’s squad took sixth overall with 133 points, and Watervliet trailed in eighth place with 227 points.
The first area qualifier was Coloma’s own Emma Vandermolen. She finished 16th out of 113 runners. Her time was 22:05.7. Ava Genovese, also of Coloma, took 20th place (22:35.9).
Coloma’s Megan Koenigshof completed the course with a time of 23:58.0, good for 42nd place.
Abby Vandermolen of the Comets team matched her season best with a 24:07.7 run giving her a 46th place finish.
Watervliet runners did not finish in the top 50.
Panthers post decent finish in tourney action
The Lady Panthers hit the volleyball court Saturday for tournament action. Watervliet began their day with pool play matches against Bridgman, River Valley, and Michigan Lutheran.
The Panthers earned a 3-3 record in pool play, which qualified them for a spot in single elimination bracket play.
In the first bracket play game, Watervliet was downed by Dowagiac and eliminated from the tournament.
Susanna Van Lente contributed six kills, nine digs, one block, and nine aces as head coach Edie Daugherty remarked she “came in clutch today.”
Mikalah Clay added 20 digs, 38 assists, eight kills, and four aces. Grace Smith tallied 36 digs, two assists, one kill, and two aces.
Elaine Koshar had 20 kills, one assist, and eight blocks on the day. Emma Armstrong had 15 digs and 14 kills.
Caylee Simmons provided 15 digs, one kill, and one ace. Brionna Myers recorded four digs and two assists, while Tekoa Marshall was responsible for five digs, four assists, and three kills. Emma Yazel had two kills.
Panther Volleyball clipped by Constantine
The Lady Panthers traveled to Constantine Thursday, September 27 for varsity volleyball action. Watervliet lost 3-1 but played some pretty tough matches.
In the first go-round, Watervliet chased Constantine to a 25-23 loss. In the second match, the Panthers were overwhelmed from the start and never found their offensive or defensive footing. They dropped that game 25-5.
However, the squad fired up in the third match and showed some aggressive return volleys. The Panthers won game three 25-20.
Constantine bounced back to take the fourth game 25-11.
Susanna Van Lente led Watervliet with 13 digs, four kills, one block, and four aces. Mikalah Clay chipped in 17 digs, 11 assists, three kills, and one block. Tekoa Marshall hit two digs, two assists, one kill, and two blocks.
Elaine Koshar contributed eight kills, two digs, seven blocks, and two aces. Emma Armstrong had nine digs, four kills, and one ace. Grace Smith added 27 digs, one assist, and one kill. Caylee Simmons hit six digs.
Watervliet boys finish second, Coloma boys and girls take fourth at SAC Jamboree #2
The second Southwestern Athletic Conference cross country jamboree of the year was held Wednesday, September 26 at Schoolcraft and several area runners came up big for their respective schools.
On the girls’ side of things, Saugatuck captured the championship after placing six runners in the top eight places. Coloma finished fourth with 128 points and Watervliet was 10th with 265.
Coloma’s Emma Vandermolen set a new personal record with her time of 21:21.78. Her race time proved to be 11th best overall.
Ava Genovese of Coloma finished 27th with a time of 22:58.48. Teammate Megan Koenigshof ran the course in 23:07.47 and set a new PR; she finished 31st. Taylor Brown, also of Coloma, took 47th place with her personal record-setting time of 23:49.44.
Watervliet runners were unable to crack the top 50 but several set new personal records.
For the men, Saugatuck earned the championship with 37 points. Watervliet finished with 68 points and second place honors. Coloma took fourth overall with 98 points.
Watervliet’s Gus Hinch set a new PR as he blazed through the course in 17:47.32 and finished fourth. Fellow Panther Ezra Troyer took eighth place with a time of 18:12.76. Kody Edmonds of Watervliet was 11th (18:23.93) and set a new PR.
Coloma’s Blane Sutherland notched a new PR with his 18:29.60 time; he finished 14th overall.
Adiel Granados finished 16th (18:34.72), while Jake Ickes and Ethan Vandermolen took 17th and 18th, giving the Comets four runners in the top 20. Ickes and Vandermolen finished 17th and 18th overall with times of 18:35.51 and 18:38.35, respectively; both times were new PRs for the Comet runners.
Watervliet’s Kade Van Niel, Matthew Hanks, and Trevor Pelton all turned in new PR-setting performances. Van Niel was 24th (18:47.23), with Hanks following in 25th (18:51.03), and Pelton in 27th place (18:53.91).
Alex Isbrecht of Watervliet crossed the finish line in 41st place with a time of 19:49.33.
Coloma’s Caeleb Ishmael’s time of 19:49.33 was good for 41st place overall. And, Watervliet’s Austin Roberts rounded out the top 50 finishers in 50th place with a time of 20:17.02.
Indians experience success, heartbreak in busy week By Jerrod Birmele
Hello everyone! My name is Jerrod Birmele and I’m excited to join the Tri-City Record as their exclusive voice for Hartford Indian athletics.
First, a little about me: I’m 32 years young and a lifelong resident of this tight, sports-loving community. I am a 2004 graduate of Hartford High School and played five different sports during my four years in High School. I ran three years of Cross Country and participated in Football, Basketball, Baseball and Track and Field for one year each.
After graduating from Hartford, I returned the following fall as a volunteer assistant coach for the Cross Country teams, where I got to work with two of the finest coaches and mentors around: Tom Shoemaker and the late Robert Teske, both of whom I considered “second fathers”. Those long bus rides across Southwestern Michigan allowed me to pick their brains and absorb their knowledge. When I did, I recognized immediately that they had so much love for Hartford athletics and its student-athletes.
From that point forward, I recognized that I wanted to do more to help. For many years, you could find me helping with the Cross Country or Track and Field programs. Many in this area might remember me most from being on the sidelines with the Hartford Varsity Football team in the fall, where I did defensive stats during the game and overall stats after the game. I also maintained a website dedicated to Hartford Football for the better part of a decade.
Presently, you can find me behind the microphone many nights during the fall and winter at Hartford athletic events. In addition, I’m prone to pulling double duty during winter sports, announcing and keeping the scoreboard running properly… all at the same time! I announce all levels of Football, from Rocket all the way up to Varsity. I also announce Varsity games and matches for the Basketball, Soccer, Volleyball and Wrestling teams, as well. I dabble into announcing Baseball and Softball games in the spring… when I have time.
SIMMONS’ SHOT… Watervliet senior Caley Simmons returns a volley in the Panthers’ first game against Saugatuck September 25 as Susanna Van Lente (3) watches the play unfold. Watervliet lost the game 25-20 and recorded a 3-1 record. Simmons had eight digs and two aces on the night. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)
I currently reside in Hartford, where I work for my parents, Jerry and Cindy, at the Calvin Funeral Home. I am the middle child of three and have two sisters: Janell, 35 and Jenna, 25. In my spare time, you can find me at one of the local golf courses or just giving back to the youth of Hartford.
In giving back, I serve as the current Chairman of the Hartford Council for Recreation’s Interlocal Board of Directors, co-Head Umpire for the youth Baseball and Softball programs and help coordinate our two summer tournaments.
If you see me around, feel free to come say hello and introduce yourself!
In my first week of reporting, Hartford student-athletes hit the gridiron, soccer pitches and volleyball courts of southwest Michigan in what turned out to be a busy five days for the athletes wearing the green and white.
Hartford Football Homecoming loss to White Pigeon
On the gridiron, the Hartford Varsity Football team hosted White Pigeon on Friday night. The Indians came into the game at 4-1 on the season. In a pivotal game for the Indians’ playoff hopes, it would be the visiting Chiefs that would come out on top this night, 34-6, spoiling Homecoming festivities at Hartford High School.
White Pigeon struck first on a long run in the waning seconds of the first half to take a 6-0 half-time lead. It didn’t take long for the Indians to answer right back. On their first possession of the second half, Hartford drove down the field, scoring on quarterback Aaron Sinclair’s one-yard touchdown plunge. The point after attempt failed, but Hartford had tied the game at 6 early in the third quarter.
But it was all White Pigeon from there, as the Chiefs scored 28 unanswered points to put the game out of reach. They scored 16 points in the third quarter and 12 points in the fourth quarter, using three touchdown runs and an interception return for a touchdown to round out the scoring.
Individual player and team stats from Friday night’s game were unavailable as of press time.
With the loss, Hartford falls to 4-2 on the season and 3-2 in Southwest 10 Conference play. The Indians hit the road this Friday to take on unbeaten Cassopolis.
SW10 Conference champions in soccer
On the soccer pitch, the Hartford Men’s Varsity Soccer team, ranked number 8 in Division 4, took to the road for two Southwest 10 Conference matches.
On Sept. 24 the team traveled to Bloomingdale to take on the Cardinals. The Indians jumped out to a 2-0 halftime lead. Bloomingdale would score a goal in the second half, but in the end, behind strong defense and solid goalkeeping, Hartford would hold on to win the match, 2-1. With the win on Monday night, the Indians clinched the Southwest 10 Conference title.
The Indians got a goal each from Fernando Alvarez and Brandon Galvan. An assist on the first goal was credited to Joel Soto. Goalkeeper Rudy Martinez recorded five saves.
On Wednesday of last week, the team traveled to Cassopolis to take on a Rangers team that was the co-champion of the conference with the Indians last season. Hartford scored four goals in the first half, taking a commanding 4-1 lead into halftime. Cassopolis would score a goal in the second half, but it wasn’t enough, as Hartford went on to score a convincing 4-2 victory.
The Indians got two goals in the match from Joel Soto, while Jovani Calderon and Brandon Galvan added one goal each. Assists were credited to Roy Rodriguez (2), Galvan and Miggy Cardoso. Goalkeeper Rudy Martinez recorded four saves.
After winning two matches on the week, Hartford moved to 13-2 on the season overall. This week has them playing three matches. They hosted Comstock (Monday) for Senior Night, before taking the road for back-to-back matches against state-ranked Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian (Wednesday) and Paw Paw (Thursday). Results will be reported in next week’s Press Box.
Lady Indians came up short on the courts
On the volleyball court, the Hartford Varsity Volleyball team had three road matches last week, traveling to New Buffalo on Monday, Decatur on Wednesday and White Pigeon on Thursday.
In Monday’s match, the Indians suffered defeat in straight sets: 25-14, 25-21 and 25-9. The Indians were led in kills by Mikenzie Chambers with three, while Megan Nelson added two kills. Ariah Jordan led Hartford with two aces, while Lainey Goodson and Karla Robles served one ace each. Hartford was led in digs by Nelson with 42, while Chambers added 23 digs and Robles 18 digs.
In Wednesday’s match, the Indians fell in straight sets: 25-21, 25-15 and 25-17. The Indians were led in kills by Mikenzie Chambers with seven, while Meghan Deckard, Megan Nelson and Jaelyne Galvan added one dig each. Chambers led the team in aces with two, while Nelson served one ace. Hartford was led in digs by Nelson with 71, while Chambers added 46 digs and Galvan added 38 digs.
In Thursday’s match, the Indians suffered a straight set loss once again: 25-20, 25-12 and 25-14. The Indians were led in kills by Mikenzie Chambers with eight, while Jaelyne Galvan and Megan Nelson added two kills each. Nelson led the team in aces with two, while Karla Robles served one ace. Hartford was led in digs by Nelson with 50, while Galvan added 32 digs and Chambers added 20 digs.
Hartford is currently 6-18 on the season and 1-4 in Southwest 10 Conference play. This week the Lady Indians play two Southwest 10 Conference matches. They will host Cassopolis for Senior Night (Tuesday), before hitting the road to take on Centreville (Thursday). Watch for the outcome and stats next week in the Tri-City Record.
This week’s Tri-City Record Press Box Player of the Week is Susanna Van Lente, a junior on the Watervliet volleyball team.