Press Box Player of the Week!
By Dave Vollrath
The Tri-City Record Player of the Week for Dec. 31, 2020 is Coloma Comet senior cross country runner Blane Sutherland. Blane had an outstanding senior season, after having run on the cross country team all four of his high school years.
Blane has also competed on the Coloma track team all of his high school years, except the COVID canceled season of 2020. He is looking forward to competing on the Comet track squad in the coming 2021 season. Blane also keeps busy and in shape during the winter months, by competing on the Coloma wrestling team.
Blane was nominated for this award by Coloma cross country coach Courtney Churchill, who says she has greatly enjoyed coaching Blane on the cross country team. Coach Churchill will miss his leadership, although she will have one more opportunity to coach him as she and her husband Mike will be coaching the Coloma girls and boys track programs this coming spring.
Of Blane Coach Churchill says, “Blane is extremely coachable, is a born leader, and a great, positive role model for the younger members of the Comet team. He always strives to run his best and race to his fullest potential.”
Blane was in top form late in the season, and was a key component on the Coloma boys team as they finished 3rd at the Division 3 regional meet at Portage and qualified for the state tournament. It was the first time the Comet boys had ever qualified to go to state as a team. Blane finished 3rd on the Comet team and 14th overall as he ran a personal best time of 18:24.89. He has been one of Coloma’s top runners since he began his freshman year, and has been steady and consistent in bringing his times down throughout his treks on the Coloma trails.
Blane’s parents are Tony and Kelly Sutherland of Coloma. Blane is also an avid BMX bike racer, and has been racing with a passion since he was 7 years old. This past summer Blane took first place in an intermediate division race, which bumped him up into the expert class in the BMX Nationals, a race held in Portage, Indiana.
Blane is looking to go into law enforcement following graduation next spring and is currently carrying a 3.6 GPA, and also is taking a CTE Criminal law class being held in Berrien Springs. We congratulate Blane on his achievements and in winning this award, and wish him all the best in the future and hope he has a safe, long, and satisfying career in law enforcement.
Watervliet Press Box by John Oliphant
Watervliet Press Box
Sports to resume?
Area basketball and wrestling athletes are in the middle of an unbearable holding pattern. There’s a plan to get conditioning and practices started and then get a slightly-extended season underway, but who knows if any of these current plans from the MHSAA will be viable in two weeks. Winter sports athletes often spend their first couple weeks of practices on conditioning, building up their endurance for multiple runs up and down the court and for trying to outlast an opponent on the mat. The conditioning is critical as it develops the ability to beat your opponent last in the game, and more importantly it builds bodies to handle the strenuous exertion without the fatigue that often leads to an injury.
Frankly, most basketball players are sitting at home enjoying holiday leftovers and making fast breaks between the couch and the refrigerator. Wrestlers would have had several matches before the end of the year and typically struggle to balance the holiday cheer, in the form of potatoes, cookies, and pie, with their need to maintain a lean body and keep their weight under control. It’s safe to say that almost none of this is happening as we drag ourselves to the end of 2020. And who can blame them? The MHSAA plans to complete the remaining fall tournaments before the end of January by utilizing a rapid testing system on all athletes and coaches. This writer feels they should have cancelled the remaining playoffs in order to simply move forward. Lakeshore got it right by telling the MHSAA that they were done with their football season and the January playoff risk wasn’t worth any possible reward.
Meanwhile, we have one senior wrestler here at home who would love to get his final season started to get his shot at another 25-win season. We want to be optimistic about his chances, but we’re also being realistic: there’s a very real chance we won’t have a winter sports season. Should that happen we have no choice but to move forward too and begin to look ahead to a hopefully normal-style graduation and whatever happens next. There are so many reasons to want this pandemic over with. Some of those reasons are big ones such as the education of the students and naturally all the health problems it’s causing. But we also want these little things, like Friday night sports and Saturdays traveling to tournaments and student-athletes learning the lessons of competition. Maybe most of all we want it over so we can watch, cheer, celebrate and cry as our kids grow and mature through their wins and losses.
Coloma Press Box By Dave Vollrath
Coloma Press Box
MHSAA says fall sports championships will be finalized in January
The Michigan High School Athletic Association, MHSAA, the governing body for all high school sports in Michigan, has once again repeated their determination that they will still have a conclusion to the Michigan fall sports season, with all champions crowned.
The final competing schools began practice on Dec. 28 and were required to submit to a MDHHS pilot test program of rapid testing of all participants, with a negative test necessary for them to take part. Because of the uncertainty of these new requirements of rapid testing for the COVID virus, at least one Michigan school, Lakeshore, has decided they will not be playing any more football this season. This means that although they are only three wins away from a state championship, they will forego that opportunity for a state crown and end their season now.
In the latest communication from the MHSAA, no mention was made regarding winter sports; although the high school students currently will be allowed back on the campus after the holiday season concludes. Coloma athletics remain on hold, as they have been for the better part of this year, but the hope continues that all Coloma Comet sports will be back sooner rather than later.
Brady leads Bucs to huge beat down of Lions, Detroit falls at home 47-7
Tom Brady, who left New England after 20 seasons and six Super Bowl Championships won for the Patriots, has continued his stellar career in Tampa Bay and has the Bucs on the verge of the playoffs. He led his teammates into Detroit on Saturday and easily handled their business in beating the Lions 47-7. Another embarrassing loss at home for Detroit, in a season that has already cost them their head coach who was fired after the Thanksgiving Day game and their interim head coach, Darrell Bevell who could not coach on Sunday because of COVID related protocols.
The coach’s absence would be of little consequence because unless he was able to suit up and play like Superman, nothing he could have done on the sidelines could have made a difference in this game. It became very clear early that the Lions defense was not going to be able to stop Brady on this day, as he took their first possession and drove the length of the field in less than four minutes. He finished the drive by hooking up with his old Patriot’s pal, Rob Gronkowski for a 33-yard touchdown and going on top 7-0. It was all Patriots on this day, as Brady was impressive going 22 of 27 passes for 348 yards, and four touchdowns in the first half. Brady was not needed in the second half as the Bucs led 34-0 going to halftime, and gave their starter a rest in preparation for a playoff run.
The Lion’s lost their starting QB Matt Stafford due to an ankle injury, suffered after being hit on the Lion’s first series, which brought the Lion back-up QB Chase Daniel in, in relief. The Lions were trailing 40-0 when the Lions pro bowl punt returner Jamal Agnew ran back a punt 74 yards for the only Lions score, which occurred in the 3rd quarter.
The stat page was too lopsided to even mention. The Lions were held to under 200 yards of total offense while the defense was rolled over, to the tune of 588 yards picked up by Tampa. The win improves the Bucs record to 10-5, and they are now locked into a wild card spot with one week left in the regular season. They conclude next Sunday with a home game against Atlanta. The Lions fall to 5-10, and finish their season at home, on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
Ohio State leads five Big Ten teams into the bowl season The bowl season is upon us and following a few nondescript bowls played the week of Christmas, New Year’s week will be the real deal when it comes to the bowl season. It was announced on Sunday, Dec. 20 that five teams would represent the Big Ten in bowls around the country, the fewest number of Big Ten teams to earn a bowl game in many years. Wisconsin will be making their 32nd bowl appearance when they meet up with Wake Forest on Dec. 30, in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. Wisconsin is 3-3 and Wake is 4-4 on the season.
Iowa and Missouri were set to meet in the Transperfect Music City Bowl in Nashville, Tennessee, also on Dec. 30, but that game was canceled due to COVID related issues It would have been Iowa’s 34th all-time bowl appearance had the game taken place. The Hawkeyes finish the season at 6-2.
Indiana will hook up with Mississippi on Jan. 2 in the Outback bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida. It will be the 32nd time a Big Ten team has appeared in the Outback Bowl and the first ever for the Hoosiers, following a season where they finished 6-1.
Northwestern has a date to play Auburn in the Vrbo Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1 in Orlando, Florida. Northwestern with a record of 6-2 and Auburn with a 6-4 record will meet up for the first time ever. It will be the 29th time for a Big Ten team in the Citrus Bowl, and the second time for the Wildcats – but first time since 1996. Northwestern lost to Ohio State in the Big Ten championship.
Ohio State made the final four after winning the Big Ten Championship for the fourth consecutive year. They are set to play Clemson in the All State Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day. The winner will play in the National Championship against the winner of Alabama and Notre Dame. The National Championship will be played on Jan. 11 at Hard Rock Stadium, in Miami Gardens, Florida.
The Buckeyes will be playing in their 51st all-time bowl game. Ohio State had several games canceled due to COVID concerns, and finished the season at 6-0. Clemson comes in at 10-1, having beaten the Notre Dame Irish in the ACC championship game 34-10.
Hartford Press Box by Jerrod Birmele
Hartford Press Box
Hartford Council for Recreation cancels youth basketball season
For many organizations throughout the state, country and the world for that matter, it has been a difficult and trying year to be in the leadership role of a group. That can easily be said for the Hartford Council for Recreation’s Interlocal Board of Directors, who has been tasked with making the ultimate decisions in regards to youth sports in the local community.
It took nearly two months for the group to make the hard decision to cancel the spring baseball, softball, t-ball and League of Miracles season. After initially calling off the fall football season, the organization reversed their decision, seemingly with high hopes of completing a season. However, a small outbreak of COVID-19 cases in the elementary squashed those hopes three games into the year.
And now, the Hartford Council for Recreation is sad to announce that youth basketball season has officially been canceled due to continuing concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic. It is just another cancelation in the growing list of sporting events that have had to be axed in 2020 at both the local and national level.
It was expected to be a great year for the sport. After many years of solid leadership by the high school basketball programs, the Hartford Council for Recreation took over beginning this year, adding the sport to its growing portfolio