10-31-2019 Tri-City Area Sports

Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath


Comets win big in season ending rivalry against Watervliet, 56-6

This rivalry football game between two small-town schools, separated by two short miles, goes on as it has for about 110 years. There were no undefeated seasons on the line, no playoff opportunities for either side, no big records that could be broken, but just like always, this is a game that will never be about nothing. It will always earn the winner the bragging rights for another year, until the game is played again next year.

The bragging rights for this year belong to the Comets, who came to Panther Stadium with both teams looking for their third win of the year, and now can brag to their family and friends on the other side that this year “we got ya”. And they got them big, by a final score of 56-6.

DANCIN’ DOWN THE SIDELINE! Michael Dancer, a Coloma receiver, took a short pass 19 yards down the sideline, which help set up the first Comet touchdown on Friday, Oct. 25. Dancer caught two passes in the game, and had an interception on defense, helping to defeat Watervliet 56-6, in the annual grudge match between these two Red Arrow rivals. (TCR photo by Dave Vollrath)


The Comets and their totally revamped offense that was instituted in week seven by Coach Joe Stephens has been rolling up some very impressive offensive numbers. There was little that the Panthers could do to slow them down.

Coloma took the opening kickoff and drove down the field and scored on an 11-yard run by Kenyon Boyd, his first of three scores. Following Noah Schwanke’s 2-point conversion the Comets led 8-0. They tacked on another touchdown in the 1st quarter, as Boyd plunged in from two yards and the Comets took a 14-0 lead into the 2nd quarter.

Quarter number two is where the game really got out of hand, as the Panthers committed numerous turnovers that either stopped their own drives deep in Comet territory or gave Coloma the ball in favorable field position. Coloma took a 22-0 lead following a 12-yard TD catch by Noah Schwanke, and a Michael Case 2-point conversion.

NICK HAS POSSESSION… Coloma Comet defender, Nick Santarlas, dives on a fumble by the Panthers, deep in Comet territory, stopping a Watervliet drive. The Panthers turned the ball over four times, as the Comets went on Friday to defeat Watervliet 56-6. (TCR photo by Dave Vollrath)


The Panthers then drove down the field mostly on the young passing arm of freshman quarterback Tyson Williams, and capped that off by a 3-yard sprint to the pylon by Jordan Abney. The 2-point conversion failed and Watervliet trailed 22-6.

The Comets followed with three runs for over 45 yards by Case, and a 3-yard touchdown run by Case. On the next possession the Panther quarterback threw the ball into the waiting hands of Coloma linebacker Jackson Hodges, who ran the interception back 17 yards for another Comet touchdown. Following the ensuing kickoff the Panthers immediately lost another fumble to Coloma that turned into another Comet score, as Case threw a 26-yard pass to Nick Santarlas for the TD. The three Coloma scores in less than two minutes pretty much salted the game away as the teams went to the locker rooms with the Comets up by a commanding score of 42-6.

The second half was played entirely under the mercy rule of a running clock, which means it only stops for time outs, scores, or an injury. The second half highlight for the Comets came following the third touchdown of the night for Boyd in the 3rd quarter when Coach Stephens inserted Cole Alsup, his all state lineman and 4-year starter, into the backfield and handed him the ball for the 2-point conversion. The big man rumbled into the end zone for the two points, and the Comet players and fans were ecstatic.

Coach Stephens had high praise for his big tackle, and noted that it was going to be hard to replace Alsup who has played in 37 games for the Comets in his four years. He also praised his whole team who battled through a lot of adversity during the season, losing their starting quarterback in week five and suffering through three straight shutout losses. He is very proud though of these young men who kept working and practicing hard, week in and week out, and never gave up on a season that they easily could have.

Boyd led the Comets in rushing with 83 yards in 17 carries and three touchdowns. Michael Case and Noah Schwanke each ran for 57 yards for Coloma. Case was also 4-4 passing for 78 yards and one touchdown. Michael Dancer caught two passes for 31 yards, while Nick Santarlas had one catch for his 26-yard touchdown. Kenyon Boyd had one catch for 22 yards.

Defensively the Comets were led by Ian Ishmael who had a big night with seven tackles, one QB sack, and one tackle for loss. Case, Boyd, and Santarlas each had six tackles for the Comet defense. Jackson Hodges and Dancer each had an interception, with Hodges being that pick six right before the end of the half, and Santarlas also recovered a Panther fumble on the Coloma 5-yard line.

Coloma finishes their season with a 3-6 record, and the comforting feeling knowing that as far as Watervliet is concerned, “we got ya”.

Coloma Comet girls cross country team finishes third at regional, qualifies for state; Ava Genovese qualifies individually

The Coloma girls cross country team ran like their hair was on fire, and edged their way into the Division 3 team state meet next Saturday, Nov. 2, to be run at the Michigan International Speedway. Ava Genovese once again led the Comets to the finish line, this time in Centreville on Saturday, Oct. 26. She also finished in 9th place overall and the chance to compete for an individual state title as well by finishing in the top 15 places.

In the regional, each team is made up of the top seven runners for each school competing in the event. The top three teams earn their way to the state championship race. The Comets finished with 114 points, while Bloomingdale finished two points behind with 116. Galesburg-Augusta was first team with 46 points, and Saugatuck finished 2nd with 55 points.

Ava was the first Comet to the finish line in a time of 21:16, which is a personal best for her. Her teammates also ran very well, and though no one else ran a personal best, it was a tough running morning with very little wind. But the temperature when they started was in the upper thirties, not ideal weather for keeping those running muscles loose. Each of the Coloma competitors came in out of gas, as they gave everything they had on the course. And what they gave was just enough to earn their ticket to the big race at the MIS.

Finishing behind Ava was Emma Vandermolen in 22nd overall, at 22:19; Abby Vandermolen 27th in 22:36 and Chloe Williams 31st in 22:56. Camryn Brown was 38th in 23:24, Briana Tillotson 50th in 24:14, and the little fireball Vanessa Crisenbery was 59th in 25:05. The team is coached by Courtney Churchill, who says she is very proud of her girls who had worked hard and pulled each other along in working together as a team should.

The boys also competed very well. Even though they didn’t have any individuals qualify for state, they did finish in 5th place behind the fourth place Watervliet Panthers.

Jake Ickes again was the top Comet across the line. He finished in 20th place in a time of 18:23. Jake is only a sophomore. And of the top seven Comet runners on this team, only Blane Sutherland is a junior. All others on this team are sophomores or freshmen. This bodes very well for Coach Churchill as she knows her young team has only scratched the surface of what they are capable of accomplishing in the future.

Ethan Vandermolen finished in 30th place in 18:29, Blane Sutherland 30th in 18:56, Riley Davis 41st in 19:36. Caleb Ishmael ran in 20:46, Andy Granados in 20:47, and Skylar Wolfe ran a time of 21:02.

PRESS BOX PLAYER OF THE WEEK

By Dave Vollrath

Coloma Comet soccer player Tyler Russell is this week’s Press Box Player of the Week. Tyler is a junior at Coloma High School, and the only junior on this year’s team which includes four seniors, 11 sophomores, and three freshmen.


Tyler’s mother is Carmen Russell.

Tyler had some great stats for the season just completed which ended in the district against the South Haven Rams, who were a heavy favorite but only beat the Comets by a score of 2-1. Coloma won their district opening game by a 1-0 score over Constantine. For the year Tyler scored 12 goals, was credited with five assists, and 90 steals.

When Tyler is not playing soccer, he works in the summer at the race track in Hartford and also loves the camping trips with his family.

We congratulate Tyler on this award and wish him the best of luck for the balance of his high school career.

Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele


Hartford Soccer season finishes with defeat in regional semifinals

Last week, the Hartford Indian Soccer team, who finished 14th in the state in Division 4, competed on the postseason level one more time, as they traveled to Portage for regional action. After having won districts for the third straight season, the Indians were tasked with playing in one of the toughest regional draws in the state. Three state-ranked teams were among the opponents competing, and thus, the team would have to play their absolute best to advance.

On Tuesday, Oct. 22, Hartford traveled to Portage Central High School for a regional semifinal matchup against #5 Dansville. The Aggies came into the match with a 22-2-1 record, and came in 16-0-1 in their last 17 matches. However, Hartford also came in riding victories in each of their last 17 matches, so this one was going to be a good test. The tough part about a match like this, though, is that one team has to win and one team has to lose. Unfortunately, for Hartford, they would suffer a 2-nil defeat at the hands of Dansville. The Aggies scored on a corner kick late in the first half to take a 1-nil lead at halftime, and got their second goal midway through the second half on a tough luck bounce for the green and white.

The Indians had four official shots on net, and each of them was of great quality, and also several other good looks that missed the net. The team played 100% for the entire 80-minute duration of the match, and never gave up despite the result not going in their favor.

Hartford finishes the season with a record of 20-4. The Indians won the Southwest 10 Conference championship for the third year in succession, and won yet another district title, all while adding multiple trophies to an ever expanding trophy case this year. Despite losing a handful of seniors to graduation, all of whom have made contributions to the team throughout their careers, the talent this team possesses in the underclassmen ranks make them a team to watch for years to come.

Congratulations to head coach Nick Blackmer, assistant coaches Abel Robles and Francis Aboagye, and the soccer team on another fantastic season!

Hartford Football stuns #6 White Pigeon, qualifies for playoffs

Friday, Oct. 25, the Hartford Indian Football team traveled to White Pigeon to take on the Chiefs in their regular season finale. The Indians came into the game having won two straight games to get their record to 5-3, and one win short of automatically qualifying for the playoffs. This game would be a test, as White Pigeon came in 7-1 on the year, and were ranked #6 in the state in Division 8. To get into the postseason, the Indians knew a win was necessary.

This game was a battle in the trenches all night long. Both offenses failed to reach 200 total offensive yards, as the defenses played outstanding football. The game was deadlocked at zero through one quarter, before White Pigeon took a 6-0 lead at halftime courtesy of a touchdown. Hartford took a 7-6 lead after three quarters, and then, came the drama. White Pigeon scored early in the final quarter to take a 12-7 lead, before Hartford came up with a fantastic drive under two minutes that ended with a touchdown with seconds to play, giving the Indians a thrilling 14-12 victory, and advancing them to the playoffs for the second time in three years.

Late in the first half, Hartford drove down inside the White Pigeon 10-yard line and were in range to score, but could not advance into the end zone, and turned the ball over on downs.

Hartford would earn their first lead of the game on their first possession of the half in the third quarter, when running back Aaron Sinclair bulled his way into the end zone from 5-yards out to even the score at 6. Kicker Nick Pultz put the extra-point attempt through the uprights, and gave the Indians a 7-6 lead with just over 5 minutes remaining in the third.

After trading interceptions late in the third, White Pigeon would respond early in the fourth quarter to regain the lead on yet another touchdown run, this time from 10-yards out. Just like their first touchdown of the game, the Chiefs went for the two-point conversion, which was unsuccessful, and they held a tenable 12-7 lead with just over 10 minutes remaining in the game.

The teams then traded drives, with Hartford driving into White Pigeon territory before turning it over on downs, and then, the Indian defense got a big stop, forcing the Chiefs into a three-and-out and a punt, which left Hartford at their own 8-yard line with just a couple minutes to play.

It would turn into the drive of the year, as Kyle Manning completed a pass to Dylan Voss, who then tossed a lateral to Aaron Sinclair for a nearly 70-yard gain, setting Hartford up inside the White Pigeon 25. Just a few plays later, with 32 seconds remaining, Hartford struck gold when Manning took the quarterback draw 5-yards into the end zone for the touchdown. Nick Pultz booted his second extra-point kick of the night, and brought the game to its final score.

According to statistics provided to the Press Box, White Pigeon outgained Hartford, 157-151. Of the 151 yards of total offense for the Indians, 117 were rushing yards and 34 were passing yards. Aaron Sinclair led the rushing attack, gaining 59 yards on 10 carries and scoring a touchdown, while Kyle Manning added 55 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. Manning was 5-of-13 passing for 34 yards and an interception, and completed passes to Dylan Voss (3 catches, 23 yards) and Sinclair (2 catches, 11 yards).

Defensively, Hartford was paced by Ricky Baker with eight tackles, while Yair Delgado added seven tackles, including one for-a-loss. Alex Cook pitched in six tackles, while Kyle Manning recovered a fumble and the defense also had an interception, as well.

On special teams, kicker Nick Pultz was 2-for-2 in extra-point attempts, with his two points being the difference in the final score.

Hartford is currently 6-3 on the season, and finished 5-3 in Southwest 10 Conference play, good enough to tie them with Centreville for fourth place in the conference. Having qualified for the playoffs, the Indians found out on Sunday they would play at Schoolcraft in the first round. The game will be played on Friday, Nov. 1 at 7:00 p.m. Schoolcraft will come into the game at 8-1 on the season, suffering their lone setback of the year against Kalamazoo United in week nine.

Hartford Volleyball falls to Watervliet in 3rd annual “Dig Pink” match

Last week, the Hartford Indian Volleyball team wasn’t as active as in previous weeks, but they did travel to Watervliet to participate in the 3rd annual “Dig Pink” match. This match, featuring the Lady Indians and the Lady Panthers, has had the unique opportunity to support community members and local entities that have direct connections to cancer. It also allows the student bodies of Hartford and Watervliet to become involved, and Panther Gymnasium was rocking!

In the “Dig Pink” match on Friday afternoon, Oct. 25, the Lady Indians fell to the Lady Panthers in four sets: 25-19, 25-7, 26-28 and 25-21. Watervliet was a very tough opponent and give them credit, but also give Hartford some credit, too. The Lady Indians were down in the third set, 22-16, and it looked like they would be swept, but they came together as a team, and rallied to win the third set and played great volleyball in the fourth set, but came up just short.

In terms of statistics, Hartford was led in aces by Megan Nelson with two, while Lainey Goodson and Karla Robles served one ace each. Up from the Junior Varsity squad, Khashya McCoy led the team in kills with eight, while Nelson added six kills and Alexis Snodgrass posted two kills. Nelson led the team in digs with 13, while Goodson added 12 and Robles posted nine. Other statistical leaders included Gillian Kuehnle with five assists and McCoy with two blocks.

Hartford is currently 10-33 on the season. The ladies will have played in one match this week, as they traveled to Berrien Springs on Tuesday to take on the Lady Shamrocks in a non-conference match. This was the final match of the regular season, as the team begins district play the week of Nov. 4.

Hartford Cross Country runs tough, falls short of making state meet

Last week, the Hartford Indian Cross Country teams hit the trails just one time, but it was for the biggest meet of the season. The teams participated in the MHSAA Division 3 Regional meet hosted at Centreville, and with it, came the opportunity for individuals, or teams, to make it to the state finals at Michigan International Speedway on Nov. 2. However, the regional meet was very competitive, and the Indian runners had to put it all on the line to try and make it.

In the Regional meet, held on Saturday, Oct. 26, the Hartford men placed 7th out of 11 teams, while the Hartford ladies placed 6th out of 14 teams. The bigger, and saddest, news is that neither the Hartford team, nor any individuals, advanced to the state meet, ending their season.

On the men’s side, the team was led by Joey Lehmkuhl, who placed 26th overall with a time of 18:48, while Jacob Morales clocked in with a time of 18:53, good enough for 28th place. The top five runners also included Aldo Acevedo in 52nd place (20:19), Hunter Bloom in 53rd place (20:21) and Arulio Delgado in 75th place (22:04). Bloom finished the season running a personal best in this meet.

On the ladies side, the team was led by Yovana Naranjo, who placed 18th overall with a time of 22:08, while Katherine Sanchez clocked in with a time of 22:52, good enough for 29th place. The top five runners also included Jasmin Janicki in 35th place (23:16), Jamie Smith in 40th place (23:31) and Mayra Naranjo in 44th place (23:46). Katalina Soria (74th place, 27:01) set her season personal best time in this meet.

The Hartford Cross Country teams ran well this season, and congratulations to head coaches Luke Golas and Doug Paran and their teams on a job well done!

As always, GO INDIANS!

Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant


Panther XC boys run well at regionals

The Watervliet Panther boys cross country team was among the top four teams in the 16-team/ 92-runner regional field on Saturday, Oct. 26, easily outpacing the rest of field at the regional meet held in Centreville. The top three teams qualify for one more race at next week’s state meet. Watervliet finished 13 points behind third place Parchment.

STATE QUALIFIERS… Ezra Troyer (232) and Gus Hinch (229) run in the regional cross country championships at Centreville on Saturday, Oct. 26. Gus would finish 9th and Ezra would finish 13th, qualifying both for the state championships on Nov. 2 at Michigan International Speedway. Watervliet’s Kody Edmonds trails on the left.


On the individual side, both Gus Hinch and Ezra Troyer qualified for the state meet. Gus (17:44) finished in 9th place while Ezra (18:00) finished 13th. The top 15 runners qualify. Gus returns to the state meet for the third consecutive year and Ezra makes his second trip.

Kody Edmonds (18:22) ran well again, finishing in 19th place. Trever Pelton was 27th and German Casiano 32nd to complete the team scoring. Matthew Hanks was 39th and Alex Isbrecht was 49th. The team had a great season in a region loaded with strong teams. They won four invitational championships and were runner-up four other times. They are graduating some key seniors, but the system is loaded with good runners to fill their shoes next year and beyond.

Regional team scores: Saugatuck 36, Bloomingdale 62, Parchment 76, Watervliet 89, Coloma 152, Bangor 158, Hartford 203, Schoolcraft 204, Constantine 223, Centreville 242, Niles Brandywine 334.

Panther XC girls finish strong

The Panther girls cross country team also ran in the regional meet on Saturday. All five runners were faster than when they ran this course earlier in the season, with Kristina Swanson (25:16) leading the team. She finished over four minutes better than her earlier Centreville time, her best race of the season. Yona Klimkiewicz was the second Panther to cross the finish line with Alyssa Lange just behind. Destiny Kerr and Aria Richards round out the quintet.

Shorthanded Panthers beat by the Comets

The big Friday Night rivalry game has been lopsided one way or the other the last few years, and this one continued the trend. The already very young Panthers were without three key players due to injury and illness, and as a result they were easily overmatched in the last game of the season. Jordan Abney led the Panther offense with five catches for 43 yards and a touchdown. Austin Wilmoth caught two passes for 38 yards, and Nick Polaskey caught two for 18 yards.

Coach Josh Tremblay said it was a tough pill to swallow on Senior Night. After the game the seniors did their traditional last walk across the field and emotions were on full display afterwards. This year’s seniors were Nick Polaskey, Jimmy Collis, Logan Geisler, Cole Pline, Dylan Tucker, Collen Doneruse, and Isaac Wilmoth.

Panther Volleyball wins Dig Pink

The Panthers beat Hartford in the third annual Dig Pink volleyball event, held at Watervliet High School this year. School spirit filled the gym on both sides Friday, Oct. 25 as students and fans cheered on the two teams. Watervliet’s girls put up a great team effort and won 25-19, 26-7, 26-28, and 25-22. Samantha Dietz came back from an injury and led the Panthers with 14 kills. Abbigayle Roberts was strong behind the serving line with 10 aces. Myah Hobson led the team with 11 blocks and Kristen Gardiner led the team with 38 assists.

Match stats include: Samantha Dietz 14 kills, 3 blocks, 4 digs; Susanna VanLente 6 kills, 6 digs, 3 aces; Myah Hobson: 5 kills, 11 blocks, 1 dig Lilly Lefor 5 kills, 1 block; Addison Riley 4 kills, 1 block, 1 ace; Kristen Gardiner 38 assists, 2 blocks, 1 ace, 2 digs; Jaylie Querfurth 4 digs, 2 aces; Abbigayle Roberts 10 aces, 1 dig; Allison Pline 5 digs, 2 aces.

Earlier in the week the Panthers put up a battle against Martin, playing tough defense and digging 59 total balls. They were on the losing end of this one, 25-20, 25-22, and 25-21. Susanna VanLente led with nine kills, Addison Riley led with 17 digs, and Myah Hobson made 10 blocks.

Match stats for Tuesday, Oct. 22: Susanna VanLente 9 kills, 7 digs, 1 block, 1 ace; Addison Riley 4 kills, 17 digs, 2 blocks, 1 ace; Myah Hobson 2 kills, 10 blocks; Kristen Gardiner 16 assists, 1 kill, 8 digs, 1 ace; Lilly Lefor 1 kill, 1 assist, 8 digs, 1 bock, 1 ace; Jaylie Querfurth 12 digs, 1 ace; Yanna Winters 2 kills, 5 digs; Abbigayle Roberts 1 kill, 2 digs, 1 ace.