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Cedar Springs falls to Catholic Central by one point

By Judy Reed

Cedar Springs quarterback Ryan West scores against Catholic Central. Photo by Nancy Scheer.

Last Friday night’s game against Catholic Central was a nail-biter for Cedar Springs fans, as they saw the Red Hawks finally put some points on the board this season and threaten to break the state champs’ winning streak. 

Catholic Central scored first, late in the first quarter, on a one-yard run up the middle by QB Connor Wolf. The extra point kick was no good.

Cedar Springs then scored with 5:25 left in the second quarter, on an 8-yard run by QB Ryan West, and again with 9:16 left in the third, on a five-yard run by Ryan Mitchell. Rory Schoenborn kicked the extra point after both touchdowns.

The Cougars came roaring back with two more touchdowns in the third quarter, one on a four-yard pass from Wolf to Kellen Russell-Dixon, with another pass to Russell-Dixon good for two more; and the second on a 20-yard run by Russell-Dixon, plus an extra point kick by John Meyer.

Cedar Springs now trailed Catholic Central by 7 points (21-14) in the fourth quarter. With a little more than five minutes left, the Red Hawks marched 71 yards into Cougar territory, and with 38 seconds left on the clock, Ryan Mitchell ran to the left and into the endzone for a nine-yard touchdown.

The score was now 21-20, and a crucial decision had to be made. Do they kick the extra point or do they go for two? Do they go for the tie or do they go for the win?

They chose to run the ball, but CC read the play and shut it down. The final score was CS 20, CC 21.

For the second year in a row, the Cedar Springs Red Hawks varsity football team fell to the Catholic Central Cougars by one point. (Last year it was 40-41.) They are the only team in the last two years to get that close.

How does Coach Gus Kapolka feel about his team’s performance in their first conference game of the season after two non-conference shut outs?

“Obviously we were disappointed with the outcome, but I’m extremely proud of how our guys competed and fought,” he said. “Our offensive line improved dramatically from weeks 1 and 2, so that was a big lift to the team.”

We asked Kapolka if there was anything he’d change about the decision to go for two points, or the play that was called.

“I wouldn’t change the decision to go for two. It was something that we had planned on all week.  Obviously I would want the play call back, but under the circumstances, it was the play that we felt had the best chance for success,” he explained.

Red Hawk Nate Slager (20) led in tackles against the Cougars, with 8. Photo by Nancy Scheer.

The Red Hawks had 285 yards on the ground against the Cougars. Ryan Mitchell led in rushing, with 142; Carter Falan had 58; Ryan West had 55; Rory Schoenborn and Nate Slager both had 14; and Marek Olenak had 2. They also had 22 yards passing, on a pass from West to Josh Kriekaard.

Nate Slager led in tackles for the Red Hawks, with 8. Connor Diemond and Rory Schoenborn had 5; Ryan Mitchell, Josh Kriekaard, Carter Falan, and Ryan West had 4. West also had an interception. Kevin Vanderhaag had two tackles, and several others had one.

The Cougars had 105 yards rushing, with Kellen Russell-Dixon leading with 84, followed by Connor Wolf with 21. They had 165 yards in the air. Wolf completed 13 of 20 attempts. Billy Mikolay was the leading receiver, with 78 yards. Ryan Eastland led in tackles for the Cougars, with 15.

Cedar Springs will face South Christian this Friday, at 7 p.m., at Red Hawk Stadium. What kind of a challenge will they be for the Red Hawks?

“South Christian will present similar issues as Catholic Central,” said Kapolka. “We will need to contain their dual threat QB and eliminate big plays in the pass game.”

Be sure to come out and cheer on your Red Hawks!

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