Tigers face Vikings, Red Devils seek to clip Eagles
Tri County at Grant Friday 7pm
It was the first game of a long delayed season complete with new rules requiring masking limited crowds, and a plethora of procedures and protocols.
And the offenses sputtered a bit as turnovers and missed opportunities played leading roles in this tight contest but much of this was the result of outstanding defensive performance by both teams.
The Tigers pulled it out by virtue of a barely missed extra point attempt and came home with r the rivalry’s traveling trophy known as The Hammer.
From there each team had their share of challenges as the season grinded on. Grant missed the next 2 games when COVID shut down school activities while the Vikes defense continued to shine and the offense picked up some steam in wins over Fremont and Newaygo.
The Tigers returned to action after just a single practice and fought hard before falling to Big Rapids. The following week they put a whipping on highly regarded Central Montcalm before ending the season with a tough loss to conference champion Reed City.
TC lost their next three coming within one score in each game.
Then came tourney time and a rematch with the Hornets. This time the Vikings offense was on full sail producing their most points of the season.in a relative rout of a good Hornet team.
In the meantime the Tigs went to Cardinal Country where they shook off an early gaffe by the special teams and had the game in control by halftime 34-8.
If the teams play like they did in their tourney opener it should be a competitive and entertaining contest.. Grant is at home which helps regardless of the crowd size and they are a good team that could easily have added 2-3 wins to their record in a ‘normal’ season.
While a good team,TC has been sporadic but their win over a solid team like the Bees after being shut out by them 3 weeks earlier shows how difficult it is to beat a good team twice.
And the Vikings lost their first meeting with these Tigers.
Winner will take on the Big Rapids/Oakridge survivor
Holton at Fowler Friday 7pm
Coach Jados has gotten a lot out of his team. In the regular season they played Morley tough, stayed with Hesperia and beat White Cloud and Lakeview.
They drew WC in the first round and shook off a whupping by Catholic Central (Muskegon variety) to edge the Cloud at home and move on to the next level.
And believe me, Fowler is the next level.
The Eagles, from the always tough Central Michigan Athletic Conference, have a lengthy football lineage often easy to trace because the names of current players are much the same as the ones that dotted the roster of Eagle teams (see Koenigsknecht, Simon, Thalen, etc.) who have missed the playoffs just 5 times since 1985 and own a trio of state titles.
But the Red Devils aren’t playing against history.
Fowler dropped their last two in the regular season. One to their primary rivals, the perennial powerhouse Pirates of P-W and one to a solid Nouvel team before dispatching their conference cellar dwellers in the first round. From what we have heard their defense can be susceptible to a good passing game while remaining strong on stopping the ground game.
The qb who will face Fowler?
Still, this will be an uphill climb that begins after the 2 hour bus ride to Eagle country.
The winner gets the victor of the Saranac/Carson City/Crystal game.
Seven Seniors Leave Mark on Newaygo Volleyball
By Alexis Mercer
No summer camp. No weight room. No pre-season at all.
In fact, no first few weeks of the season really. Unless you count moveable volleyball nets that were set up on the football field where athletes were only allowed to handle one volleyball a piece that they didn’t share with anyone else.
Then finally word arrived that volleyball could begin practicing inside. With limitations. But it was inside. On the court.
Newaygo Lions Volleyball was forced to take the season in stride. Afterall, it is a pandemic and lives are at stake. The sports teams were only given one chance to do it right or face the very real possibility of no season at all.
So masks were worn. Distance was kept. But they were on the court and ready to play.
For the seven seniors on the team, this was their final chance to play the sport they have grown to love together. All but two of them, Rylee and Sydney Maat, who came from Rockford the summer before their junior year, had been playing for Coach Kristin Melvin for five years.
Kendall Mathis, an outside hitter for the Lions, says “playing for the same coach for five years was a blessing in disguise. Because we were together for so long, we really got to understand each other. There were times where we loved each other and (temporarily) times where we hated each other, but in the end I always knew she had my best interest at heart.”
Sydney Maat shared about coming in as a new student athlete her junior year was nerve wracking. “When my sister and I first came to Newaygo we were super nervous because we were joining a team that had been together for a while. But they welcomed us with open arms and we became part of the team so fast.”
2020 was a new year and everyone had been together for at least one season prior.
As the season progressed, the Lions started to play together in a way they hadn’t in seasons past. Leaders were stepping up and taking control.
And then Covid hit. The entire team was quarantined after having been exposed to a positive case. It meant two weeks out of school, away from friends and family, and out of volleyball.
It was a major blow but one that they dealt with together; despite the physical distance.
Coming back from their two week break with everyone healthy and anxious to be back to school, a routine and the court, was like a fresh start. A chance to continue the progress they had obviously made from last year.
That is when all the parts started falling into place. Facing rivals Grant, the Lions took them to five games and won. With only one day before playing another intense rival in Fremont, Coach Melvin kept them focused on what was to come rather than being complacent with their big win. The efforts paid off as they also went to five games and won.
“Last year it seemed hard for us to pull through and win games, but this year we won some five set games and even beat our biggest rivals! I am so proud of this team and every single person on it,” says Sydney Maat.
Tri County would be the final barrier between the Lions and sharing a conference championship with Central Montcalm and Fremont. The Vikings had proven worthy competitors against both Fremont and Grant but the Lions handled them easily in three games to earn the honor of sharing the trophy: something that hadn’t been done in 20 years in Newaygo.
A first round bye in Districts meant the Lions would face off against a tough Coopersville team. Going in, they knew Coopersville would be tough. Newaygo would be the underdog, but they were used to that.
Stepping on the court, it was obvious the Lions had come to play. Lily Ruehmeier blocked their power hitter and the belief started to show in their eyes. The first game went back and forth with neither team making runs too big. In the end the Broncos were able to put the ball down and won the first game 28-26.
The second game went similarly, except the Lions did have a run that put them up while the Broncos figured out a rotational error that threw them for a loop. But Coopersville had the wherewithal to pull it back together and find the way to win with their tough offense.
Newaygo didn’t have it in them to bring Coopersville to extra games. It would be the end of their season in three.
Despite the loss, the season was a success. The Newaygo Lions showed their maturity and drive every step of the way, led by Alexis Feutz, Rylee Maat, Sydney Maat, Kendall Mathis, Emma Reyburn, Lillian Ruehmeier, and Haleigh Schmidt, the seniors who helped grow the volleyball program stronger one day at a time.
Story and photos by Michael Paige
Fremont Boys Win Third Straight Regional Championship
The Fremont boys Cross Country team ran away with their third straight regional title scoring 16 points by taking five of the top six spots in the race at Buckley High School’s course. The flat, back and forth course featured many hair-pin turns with lots of opportunities for the crowd to cheer on the runners. Fremont senior Nathan Walker took control of the race early and never looked back to finish in 14:56.5. Junior Conor Somers ran most of the race alone in 2nd to finish with a time of 15:43. Seniors Ben Paige, Adam Ward and Joshua Zerfas worked together, battling with Jackson Jones of Sparta to move up over the second half of the race. Both Ben and Adam had great sprint finishes to place 3rd and 4th in 16:22 and 16:22.8, passing Jones in the final 100 yards. Zerfas had a great first 2 miles and worked hard to the finish to place 6th in 16:32.6, rounding out Fremont’s top five. Gavin and Brennan Schuler were Fremont’s 6th and 7th runners with impressive times (Gavin – 9th place/16:49 and Brennan – 15th place/17:04) that earned them All-Region honors. Walker earned his fourth All-Region while Somers, Paige, Ward and Zerfas each earned their third. Petoskey placed 2nd with 72 points, and Sparta was 3rd with 97. All three teams will compete Friday, November 6, at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn at the State Finals.
Fremont’s Taylor Mater and Taava Johnson qualify for State Finals
The Fremont Girls Cross Country team ran a fantastic race with every girl running their best time of the season. Unfortunately, they did not qualify as a team but came very close with a score of 118 for 4th place. The top three teams move on. Petoskey (39), Cadillac (41) and Sparta (98) finished 1-3 to qualify. The top seven runners on teams other than the three qualifying teams also earn spots in the State Finals. Fremont’s Taylor Mater finished fourth for her second straight All-Region honor with a time of 18:55.4. Fremont’s Taava Johnson finished 20th overall with a personal record time of 20:15.4, beating her previous best by almost a minute. Both earned spots in the State Finals. Seniors Leah Converse (33rd with a time of 21:12), Emily Curtis (36th in 21:25.2) and Erin Norton (44th in 21:54.7) rounded out Fremont’s top five. Freshman, Elise Pfeiffer finished 65th with a time of 24:30, ending an impressive first year on the varsity squad that saw her drop many minutes in her races throughout the year. Sierra Horton came in at 25:09.1 beating her season best by over a minute to place 68th.