11-05-2020 Tri-City Area Sports

Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath

Coloma loses Division 6 playoff to Parchment; comes up one play short in 42-40 loss

The Coloma Comet football team, playing in a first ever home playoff game since moving into their new stadium in 2013, came up just short. They battled tooth and nail against a Parchment team whom the Comets had defeated earlier in the season, 36-25.

This time around these teams which were very evenly matched went back and forth with each team making big plays time and again, right to the very end of the game as Coloma came up one play short in losing to the Panthers, 42-40. The two teams matched each other with six touchdowns apiece on the night. But a bugaboo which has baffled the Comets all year had them only score on two of their 2-point conversion tries. Parchment tacked on three such efforts leaving the Comets two points short on the night and ending their season with a 4-3 record. Coloma also struggled to keep the Parchment running attack at bay and gave up too many big plays, especially when it seemed like they had the Panthers bottled up.

The scoring began with Coloma’s Noah Schwanke scoring on an 11-yard run, just a couple of minutes into the game. The Comets and Panthers then traded a touchdown each, and the Comets led 12-6 after the first quarter. Parchment took a brief 14-12 lead in the second quarter before Coloma came back and scored on a James Mathis 2-yard run, and tacked on a Timmy Schroeder 2-point conversion to go into halftime leading 20-14. The Panthers then scored back to back TDs with the 2-point conversion for each to take a 30-20 lead.

Coloma put another score on the board when Drew Goodline hit Cody Palgen with a 65-yard bomb at the end of the third quarter, bringing Coloma to within four points at 30-26. This game was far from over however, as there were plenty more fireworks, to entertain the COVID-19 diminished crowd, coming in the fourth quarter.

Parchment scored right at the start of the final stanza, and when the 2-pointer was no good the Panthers again led the Comets by 10, 36-26. Coloma responded with a scoring drive; highlighted by a sliding, 17-yard reception across the middle for a first down by Noah Schwanke. They then followed that up with a 46 yarder from Goodline to Schwanke for the touchdown. Trailing by 4 points 36-32, the Comets were given a short field when the Panthers botched a punt, giving Coloma good field position.

Coloma then scored the go ahead touchdown on a James Mathis 11-yard run with about four minutes left in the game, now leading by a score of 40-36. The Comets could not contain the Panther QB however, who led his team for another TD retaking the lead for the final time 42-40, with a little more than a minute to play. Coloma did drive deep one more time, but could not make a fourth down play and Parchment took possession for a final couple of kneel-downs to end the game.

Goodline finished the game with 198 yards passing going 7-16, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Cody Palgen caught five passes for 149 yards and one touchdown, while Schwanke had a big game catching two passes for 63 yards and one TD and rushing for 89 yards and one touchdown. James Mathis was not the workhorse he’d been the last few weeks, but still rushed 13 times for 78 yards and three touchdowns.

The Comets finished the game with a very balanced attack rushing for 193 yards while piling up another 198 through the air. They came up a little short however, as they bow out of the playoffs and Parchment moves on to play Constantine who defeated Watervliet.

Coloma girls and boys headed to state finals in cross country: first time ever for Comet boys

The Coloma girls cross country team qualified and ran in the state finals last year. One of the main goals for Coloma head coach Courtney Churchill this season was for the girls to go back to state and get the boys qualified to go as well.

Even given the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic limiting the time the team could practice and be together, Coach Churchill’s team responded with a great season which culminated last weekend with both the girls and the boys qualifying in the division 3 regional race run in Portage. Now both teams will be heading to the state finals to be run once again at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan, on Saturday, Nov 7.

The Coloma ladies finished in a first place tie with Bloomingdale with 82 points each. But Bloomingdale gets 1st place based on where the 6th runner on each team finished in the Portage regional race.

Coloma is extremely happy to once again have their team qualified to go to Brooklyn, as they were once again led by Ava Genovese who finished 4th overall in a time of 20:20. Abby Vandermolen finished in 16th place in 21:33, Chloe Williams was 26th in 22:40, Camryn Brown was 27th in a time of 22:53, and McKinleigh Kraemer was the 5th Comet to come in, and 31st place overall in 23:20. Cali Grenon was 54th in a time of 25:45, and Kayla Walter ran a time of 29:15 and finished in 61st place.

On the boys side, the team finished in 3rd place with 79 points behind Bronson with 55 and Parchment with 72, in qualifying for state for the first time in school history. Boden Genovese the freshman brother to Ava, led Coloma around the Portage trails and finished in a time of 17:20 and a 4th place overall finish. The Comets then had three runners bunched close together, as Jake Ickes was 12th in 18:00, Blane Sutherland 14th in 18:04, and Ethan Vandermolen came in 17th overall in a time of 18:18. The 5th Comet in was another freshman Aiden Cripe who ran a fine 19:41, giving him 41st place. Skylar Wolfe was 43rd in 19:47, and Caeleb Ishmael was in 56th place in 21:08.

Coach Churchill admits there were many hurdles, some COVID-19 related, to overcome this season. But she believes that her teams’ members all remained very focused and positive throughout it in order to achieve their lofty goals. She states that the older boys stayed with the younger ones to bring them along, knowing how important they were to their overall success and created an impressionable bond with them. As far as the girls, they knew what was needed to qualify and they worked equally hard to make it happen. Coach Churchill states that, “I’m overwhelmed with joy and excitement to bring both teams to MIS, (for the finals), next weekend. I couldn’t be more proud of their hard work and determination, these kids are truly amazing.”

Coloma volleyball prepares for districts with quad at Dowagiac

The Coloma volleyball team continued to prepare for the upcoming district competition by competing at a Dowagiac quad on Wednesday, Oct. 28. The Comets first beat the home team Chieftans 26-24, 25-21, before falling to Bridgman 19 and 13 and then Marcellus 20 and 24.

Maddie McQuillan had two kills, 16 assists, two aces, and 15 digs. Maurissa LaGrow had 10 digs. Gracie Whitaker had 14 kills, four aces and 11 digs. Addy Kimmerly had 10 digs. Taryn Blazier had 15 kills and eight digs. Chloe Mathis had 18 digs. Mia Cole had three kills, five aces and 34 digs. Kiely Moore had eight kills. Clara Kimmerly had two kills, five digs and three blocks. Brielle Hicks had 20 assists and eight digs, and Maddie Hicks had four kills, six aces, and 13 digs. The Comets began district play on Wednesday, Nov. 4 at Otsego.

Hartford Prress Box By Jerrod Birmele

Hartford football ends 2020 season with 48-7 loss at Lawton

Last Friday night, Oct. 30, the Hartford Indian football team continued their shortened season by traveling to Lawton to take on the Blue Devils in the first round of the 2020 MHSAA High School Football playoffs. It has been a dismal season for the Indians by all standards; the team finished the regular season winless, and, with one more loss, would finish without a victory for the first time since the 1960s.

Meanwhile, Lawton came into the game with a 5-1 record, with the only blemish on their resume being a loss to a top-five ranked team in Schoolcraft, which also finished with a 5-1 record. The Blue Devils came out of the gate firing on all eight cylinders, scoring on their first seven possessions of the game and turning this playoff contest into a rout. The final score would end up being 48-7 in favor of Lawton, ending what has been a nightmare season, all things considered, for the green and white and their loyal fans. The second half, however, proved the team never gave up, as they played much better in the final 24 minutes compared to the first half.

In terms of the box score, Lawton put the game out of reach after the first quarter, as the Blue Devils outscored the Indians, 28-0, in the opening stanza. Lawton added 20 points to their lead in the second quarter to take a 48-0 lead into the locker room at halftime. The second half was played with a running clock, so possessions were few and far between. No scoring occurred in the third quarter, and Hartford managed to score the only seven points of the fourth quarter to bring us to the final margin of victory.

Hartford managed to put their lone touchdown on the board with just 1:09 left in the game, when quarterback Donovan Sikes found a streaking Aaron Sinclair down the near sideline for a 66-yard touchdown pass. Bryan Torres added the extra-point kick to conclude the Indians scoring.

On offense, the Indians managed 116 yards of total offense. Of that total, 72 yards were rushing and 44 yards were passing. Aaron Sinclair led the ground attack, rushing six times for 76 yards. Donovan Sikes was 3-for-17 passing for 85 yards and a touchdown, but also threw two interceptions and was sacked five times. Sinclair was the top receiver in the game, making all three receptions in the loss.

On defense the Indians were led by Tanner Kinchen, who was the only player in double-figures with a season-high 15 tackles including two solo stops. Owen Pitcher added eight tackles, Brock Schaner added seven tackles, and two other players, Aaron Sinclair and Ricky Baker had six tackles each. The Indian defense recorded a fumble recovery, with Kinchen and Andrew Michael forcing one fumble each.

Hartford finishes the season with a record of 0-7. As was mentioned previously, this is the first time in over six decades that the Indians did not win a game during the season. But, you also have to look at some of the positives that came from it. The team got a chance to play during the fall, when all the odds were stacked against it. Despite having nine seniors, many underclassmen got a chance to play meaningful minutes which can only move the team forward in the coming years. After everything that has happened this season, one can only say it’s going up from here.

So, to head coach, Tom Matthews, his coaching staff and the football team: We all know it was a difficult season. But the fact you never gave up and you played as hard as you could to the final horn is not lost on all of us. For that fact, keep your heads held high – better days are ahead!

Hartford volleyball falls to Berrien Springs, postseason ahead

Tuesday night, Oct. 27, the Hartford Lady Indian Volleyball team continued their shortened season by playing in a non-conference match against Berrien Springs on “Senior Night”. It has been a much quieter stretch for the ladies as they have only played five matches so far this month, all of which have unfortunately turned into straight set losses. With the postseason looming, the team has to be at its best to be competitive in a tough district draw.

In their match against the Lady Shamrocks, the Lady Indians played as a team and as well as they could to give the seniors the best send off possible, but they unfortunately fell in straight sets: 25-8, 25-9 and 25-6.

In terms of statistics, Hartford did not record any aces. Khashya McCoy and Alexis Snodgrass led the team in kills with three, while Ariah Jordan and Mercedes Requenes added a kill each. Snodgrass led the team in digs with 10, while McCoy added five digs and two players, Emilie Fillmore and Mary Pultz added four digs each. Other statistical leaders included Pultz with three assists.

Hartford is currently 2-16 on the season, and finished with a 1-6 record in Southwest 10 Conference action. The postseason run began this week, with the Lady Indians competing in district action. They will compete in the district held at Watervliet, which will also feature Brandywine, Bridgman and Cassopolis. They will have played Brandywine on Monday, Nov. 2, with a birth in the district semifinals on the line. Pending the outcome Hartford could see action in district semifinals and possibly finals held on Wednesday, Nov. 4 and Thursday, Nov. 5.

Hartford cross country teams run well at Regional competition

Last Saturday morning, Oct. 31, the Hartford Indian cross country teams continued their shortened season by running in an MHSAA regional meet at Portage West Middle School. The teams are finished as a whole this year; however seven runners qualified for the regional meet last week. Those individuals that qualified took on a tough field of runners with the hope of qualifying for the state meet to be held this weekend at Michigan International Speedway.

At the aforementioned Regional meet every Hartford runner gave it their best shot but no runners were able to qualify for the state meet, officially ending the cross country season.

On the men’s side, three runners competed in Saturday’s Regional competition, led by Jacob Morales, who placed 27th overall with a time of 18:57. Bo Janicki clocked in with a time of 19:51, good enough for 45th place, while Arulio Delgado clocked in with a time of 20:46, good enough for 52nd place.

On the ladies side, three runners competed in Saturday’s Regional competition, led by Jasmin Janicki, who placed 32nd overall with a time of 23:28. Mikaela Cowgill clocked in with a time of 23:40, good enough for 36th place, while Jamie Smith clocked in with a time of 24:28, good enough for 46th place.

Congratulations to head coaches Luke Golas and Doug Paran and all of the cross country runners on another fantastic season!

As always, GO INDIANS!

Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant

Panther Football SAC Honors and final 2020 game

Two Panther varsity football players have been named to the SAC All-Division First Team this season, while three Panthers have captured Honorable Mention honors.

Panther seniors Isaiah Yazel and Don Smith III were recently named SAC All-Division First Team. Don was a dominating running back as well as a solid outside linebacker this season. Isaiah was a middle linebacker who saw double- and triple-team blocking after several strong performances this season, and was also a pulling guard on the offense, opening holes for his running backs.

Three other players earned Honorable Mention this season. Senior Evan Hutchins at defensive back and receiver, junior Conner Underwood as a linebacker and punter, and sophomore Royce Daugherty at offensive tackle and defensive lineman. Congratulations to those seniors, and to Connor and Royce who will be top players on the team next season.

The season that almost wasn’t has finally come to a close for the Panthers. Their rematch in the first round of the 2020 Division 6 playoffs against the Constantine Falcons ended up unfortunately similar to their first meeting in week 3, with the Falcons winning 47-0 on the strength of 515 rushing yards. Their wing-T offense is a tough one to stop when they have the size and power advantage on the offensive line, and they definitely had that this season.

Don Smith ran 19 times for 87 yards, and Tyson Williams ran 17 times for 20 yards total. Austin Wilmoth ran twice for eight and Aaron Nave ran twice for seven. Evan Hutchins caught one pass for 31 yards and Ethan Fish caught one for 11 yards. Hutchins returned three kicks for 57 total yards and Smith returned four for 44 total yards. On a windy day Connor Underwood punted twice, averaging 45 yards per punt.

The team will be holding a players-only postseason banquet in the coming days.

Cross country team runs at Regionals

The entire Panther boys team ran in the Division 3 Regional meet at Portage last weekend, finishing in sixth place as a team.

Senior Ezra Troyer ran his best race of the season so far, and the second-fastest race of his career to finish fifth overall by crossing the line at 17:27. This is the third season Troyer has been a regional medalist and qualified for the state finals meet in Brooklyn at Michigan International Speedway. He will look to put an exclamation point on what has been a great high school career Saturday morning, Nov. 7.

German Casiano (18:21) ran a strong race, leaving everything he had on the course and finishing a respectable 20th but just missing a qualifying spot at the state meet by three seconds. Camdon Geisler (19:18) and Jimmy Kolosowsky (19:21) pushed each other to new PRs while senior Aaron Leoni (19:44) capped off his Panther cross career with his third straight PR-setting race. Coach Aaron Weber’s training plan and the team’s hard work this season paid off as they were able to put together their best team performance at the most important meet of the season. Abel Villarreal (20:02) and Kameron Smith (22:10) also participated in the race.

On the girls’ side Morgan Lowell capped off a fine freshman season with a 19th place finish at the regional meet. Her 22:03 was the best of her season and she was the third fastest freshman in a strong field of regional qualifying. Coach Weber says that with Morgan and the other young ladies from this year’s squad, along with the girls coming up in the program, the future of Watervliet girls cross country is looking bright.

Volleyball runs into a pair of tough matches

The upstart Panthers traveled to Bangor for their final regular season matches before the Districts tournament begins next week. The girls played Bangor in the first match, beating them in a pair of close ones 26-24 and 26-24. The second match against Comstock was not as close, with the Panthers winning 25-13 and 25-13. The continued offensive attacks from multiple Panthers demonstrated their frontline depth, while their defense also showed off their ability to handle whatever was being hit at them.

The District tournament began Wednesday with the Panthers taking on Bridgman, and the finals will be held tonight, Thursday, Nov. 5 at 6 p.m. in the Panther gymnasium. If this team reaches its early potential they might be seeing Regionals action next week.

Combined stats: Samantha Dietz 2 aces, 16 kills, 4 digs, 1 block; Grace Chisek 2 aces, 3 digs, 30 assists, 1 block; Abbigayle Roberts 3 kills, 5 digs; Natalie Hart 4 aces, 5 kills, 3 digs, 2 assists, 3 blocks; Addison Riley 6 kills, 1 block; Myah Hobson 8 kills, 4 blocks; Jaylie Querfurth 10 digs; Ellie Golden 2 kills, 5 digs; Lilly Lefor 1 ace, 1 dig; Alexis Hoadley 1 dig, 2 assists; Tia Caldwell 2 digs.

Press Box Player of the Week!

By John Oliphant

Tri-City Record Press Box Player of the Week for Nov. 5, 2020 is Watervliet’s Erick Perez-Cruz.

Erick just completed his senior season as a captain on the Panther boys soccer team where he had an MVP-caliber season while scoring 10 goals with six assists from his defensive and attacking midfield positions. His coaches said he was a driving force, helping to maintain control of the midfield and keeping the ball in a position for his team to score.

Erick was named All-SAC honorable mention and was also named to the All-District team as a result of his outstanding performance on the Panther team. He has been playing soccer since he was nine years old and enjoys following Arsenal in the Premiere League when he’s not playing himself. In the offseason you’ll find him working out indoors or jumping into some indoor soccer competition.

When asked about their best game this season he said it was against South Haven in the second round of the district tournament, their final game of the season. He felt they played very well as a team; they were communicating well, and gave it their all. The Panthers played their own game, no rushing and played calm. He felt the worst one was against Michigan Lutheran because they went into the day expecting an easy game, resulting in the team playing a lot of individual soccer rather than team play. They eventually won the game, but learned that they have to always play good team soccer no matter who they are playing.

Erick plans to go to college next year, but is undecided what he’ll study at this point. He says perhaps dentistry, real estate, or to become a mechanic.

Good luck and congratulations Erick!

Armchair QB leader Dan Jones keeps ship steady, although upsets hurt all our ‘Backs

By Dave Vollrath

Our Tri-City Record Armchair Quarterback leader, Dan Jones has been in control of the competition for six weeks now. And while each of our competing ‘backs have struggled behind Dan, he has kept at least a two game gap over second place Rodney Lynch. If you follow the struggles of our group of guessers each week from day to day, there always seems to be the possibility of someone grabbing control of things. But so far Dan has been able to finish each weekend with his intuition keeping him on top of the heap.

This week however the only real chance for movement came on Sunday, as our ‘backs all had the same thoughts going for the first six games of the weekend. All of our gang got tripped up by the same upsets. Michigan inexplicably came out against their instate rival, flatter than three day old road kill, and lost to the Spartans, a 23-point underdog going into the game. Our pigskin pickers also had Coloma winning their playoff game vs. Parchment, but instead took another upset loss when the Comets couldn’t pull out a last ditch effort to win and were upset 42—40. Therefore all of the ‘backs were 4-2 going into the Sunday NFL games.

Sunday was a mixed bag of picks for our group, and Rodney managed to gain a game on our leader by correctly picking Indy over the Lions, and the Saints to prevail in Chicago. Dan was 1-1 on Sunday, and his lead drops back to 2 games over Rodney.

The TCR, AQB competition is held weekly from the beginning of the football season in late summer until it finishes with the playing of the Super Bowl in February. We have six Tri-City area football fans competing against each other to predict the winners of a group of pre-selected games from the high school, collegiate, and professional ranks. Following the conclusion of the Super Bowl, one winner is crowned champion and will have the honor of wearing the Tri-City Record Armchair Quarterback Championship hat.

In the event that two or more ‘backs have the same record for the week, or the yearly total, their place in the standings will be determined by a weekly tie-breaker game. In addition to trying to correctly pick the winners of each week’s games they try and predict the score from a specially selected game. The AQB who comes the closest to the total number of points scored by both teams will get the higher spot in the standings.