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Cedar Springs beats South Christian for first time ever

Clinch second place in OK Gold

Red Hawk Aiden Brunin scored two touchdowns against the Sailors. Photo by Brandon Kramer Photography.

By Judy Reed

A 20-game rivalry with zero wins. Second place in conference up for grabs. A road trip into enemy territory. The Cedar Springs Red Hawks were still stinging from a one-point loss to Catholic Central the week before that would’ve given them a share of the OK Gold title and they had something to prove.

And prove it they did—with a 38-32 first time ever win over South Christian.

How does the team feel about that?

“We feel great!” remarked Cedar Springs Head Coach Gus Kapolka. “It is exciting to be the first Cedar Springs team to beat South Christian.”

Cedar Springs had played South Christian 20 times and had never won a game against them. Their rivalry started in 1984, when the Tri River Conference was dissolved and Cedar Springs moved into the OK Gold, where they faced South Christian every year, until Cedar Springs moved into the OK Blue in 2003. It was thought the Red Hawks might have a chance to beat the Sailors in 2000—the year Cedar went all the way to the semifinals. But South Christian was Cedar’s fly in the ointment—their only loss that year, apart from the semifinal championship against Coopersville.

Prior to last Friday’s game, the Red Hawks were tied with the Sailors for second place in the OK Gold. They needed this win and were determined to get it.

South Christian hosted Cedar Springs at East Kentwood High School on Friday, October 23. South got on the board first, when Jake DeHaan ran for a 24-yard touchdown with 9:49 on the clock in the first quarter. The extra point kick by Nate Brinks was good.

Cedar Springs then scored with 8:07 on the clock, when on their fourth play of the drive, Ryan Mitchell ran 69 yards for the touchdown. QB Aiden Brunin ran in the extra points.

Junior Antwuan Nicholls slips away with the ball. Photo by Brandon Kramer Photography.

South Christian didn’t get far on their next drive and punted on fourth down to the Cedar Springs 50. Cedar Springs then scored at 6:22 on the clock when Antwuan Nicholls ran 50 yards for the touchdown. Alex Ream’s run in for extra points was good. At the end of the first quarter, it was CS 16, SC 7.

Both team’s scored in the second quarter. The Red Hawks scored with 7:44 left on a one-yard run by Aiden Brunin. He then passed to Carter Falan for two more points.

Then, with 4:13 left in the half, South Christian’s Chandler VanSolkema ran left for a 4-yard touchdown, and the extra point kick by Nate Brinks was good. At the end of the first half, it was CS 24, SC 14.

Both teams scored again in the third. South scored on a field goal by Nate Brinks, with 7:51 on the clock. 

That was followed up by Red Hawk Aiden Brunin taking the ball 7 yards into the endzone for another TD. His pass to Carter Falan for extra points was no good.

South then scored again, this time on a one-yard run by Chandler VanSolkema, and an extra point kick by Nate Brinks. At the end of the third quarter, the score was CS 30, SC 24.

Junior Ryan West runs the ball into the endzone for extra points. Post photo by Brandon Kramer Photography.

The teams each scored again the fourth quarter. Cedar struck first, when with 7:41 left, Alex Ream scored on a three-yard run, and Ryan West then ran in the extra points.

With 2:54 left in the game, Jake DeHaan then passed to Jace DeMann for a 24-yard touchdown. His extra points pass to Ashton Fennema was good. Final score CS 38, SC 32.

What does Kapolka think his team did well? “Our offense was really good, like it has been all year.  Our offensive line really came to play and our backs ran the ball exceptionally hard,” he explained.

What did he think South Christian did well? “Coach Brown had a good gameplan that stressed us out on defense, but we were able to make some adjustments and hold on for a road win,” he said.

Cedar Springs’ Ryan Mitchell was unstoppable against South Christian. Photo by Brandon Kramer Photography.

The team racked up 415 yards on the ground. Leading the way was Ryan Mitchell, with 197 yards and a TD,  Antwuan Nicholls had 115 and a TD, Carter Falan had 51, Alex Ream 28 and 1 TD, and Aiden Brunin 24 with 2 TDs. Brunin completed one pass out of two attempts for another 8 yards.

South Christian had 212 yards rushing, and quarterback Jake DeHaan had 191 of that, with 1 TD. Chandler VanSolkema had 21 and 2 TDs. DeHaan also had 203 yards passing, to six different receivers, and 2 TDs.

Kyle Hoort led in tackles for the Red Hawks, with 9.

Coach Kapolka knows there are a lot of people who help make the team’s success possible. “A special Shout Out to our coaching staff and their wives!” he said. “Our coaches make tremendous sacrifices from their own families to spend time with our players, and they wouldn’t be able to do it without the support of their wives—Emily Frigo, Sarah Dukes, Abby Gigowski, Jen Myers, Amy Martens, Rachel Austin, Kristine Johnson, Stephanie Claypool & Rachel Ash.”

Cedar Springs will host Coopersville in the first game of the playoffs this Friday at Red Hawk Stadium. What kinds of challenges will the Broncos bring? 

“Coopersville is a team that will test us with their offense. They feature some really explosive skill players, and they have a QB that can distribute the ball,” explained Kapolka. “They have some size and athleticism on the defensive side of the ball, so we will need to be at the top of our game in order to score points.”

For those attending the game, the MHSAA is going digital only for tickets. All playoff tickets except for Finals will be sold online only via GoFan at https://gofan.co/ to provide for a cashless and contactless purchasing process.

If the Red Hawks win against the Broncos, they will play the winner of the Lowell vs Muskegon game.

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