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WM Hawks battle on breast cancer awareness night

The West Michigan Hawks played for breast cancer awareness last Saturday. Photo by Marcie Crouch.

The West Michigan Hawks played for breast cancer awareness last Saturday.
Photo by Marcie Crouch.

By Shae Brophy

A beautiful evening at Skinner Field on Saturday led to an incredible football game. The Indiana Wolf Pack made their way to town to take on the West Michigan Hawks, in a game that ended in a 22-22 tie.

The Hawks came out swinging to start this one. After forcing a three-and-out on the first Indiana possession of the game, West Michigan quickly marched down the field and scored the first touchdown of the game on a Robert Bell quarterback keeper from two yards out, making the score 7-0, which held up as the score at the end of the first quarter.

The Wolf Pack made some adjustments after that point, and took control of the game. After scoring two touchdowns in the second quarter, Indiana carried a 16-7 lead into halftime.

Taking possession to start the second half, the Hawks fumbled on their first two offensive plays, one of which was returned all the way back to the end zone for an Indiana touchdown. The score was 22-7 in favor of the Wolf Pack early in the third quarter, when the Hawks changed the tide of the game. On the ensuing two point conversion attempt by Indiana, Jalin George picked up a fumble and ran it from one end of the field all the way to the other for two points, making the score 22-9.

Wide receiver John Ross made a tough catch over the middle of the field and ran 47 yards for a touchdown on the next Hawks possession, which made the score 22-15. After forcing a turnover on defense, the Hawks scored again on their next drive after a pass was tipped into the air and grabbed in stride by wide receiver Monta Swanigan. The play was good for an 80-yard touchdown, which tied the game.

After a scoreless fourth quarter, which featured scoring chances for both teams, it was determined that there would be no overtime and the game ended in a tie.

“Nobody likes a tie, especially as we made a huge comeback and had momentum on our side. I thought we fought hard,” said head coach David Lange. “We  faced adversity and overcame. We still have a lot to work on, but we definitely took a step in the right direction. I’d say we are ready for the Kalamazoo Grizzlies.”

Stephanie Cornwell, who was the recipient of the benefit for breast cancer awareness, received an anonymous $1,000 donation as a result of the benefit.

With Memorial Day weekend slated as an off week for the team, the Hawks will be back in action on June 4th at Skinner Field when they welcome the Kalamazoo Grizzlies to town. The benefit for this game will for Alan Beamer, who is battling Alzheimer’s Disease. We hope to see you then!

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Meet the Hawks: JaVon Welch

West Michigan Hawks linebacker JaVon Welch

West Michigan Hawks linebacker JaVon Welch

By Shae Brophy

Meet West Michigan Hawks linebacker JaVon Welch. A versatile athlete, Welch played numerous sports in high school, including basketball, football, track and field, swimming, and bowling. After high school at Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills, Welch went on to play college football at Valparaiso University. Upon the conclusion of his time at Valparaiso, he jumped on the opportunity to join the semi-pro ranks.

After playing with the Lakeshore Cougars last season, a season in which he was voted into the All-Star game and named as the All-Star Game MVP, he decided to make his way over to Cedar Springs to play with the Hawks.

Welch, whose biggest idols are his father Kevin Welch and brothers Keyven Welch and Amir Harris-Welch, also has some coaching experience in semi-pro ranks. He spent a full season as a defensive coordinator.

When Welch isn’t on the field, he enjoys hunting and fishing with his father and brothers.

When asked why he wanted to come to Cedar Springs and be a member of the Hawks organization he said, “I played a tournament game with them, and I noticed what they did off the field. I was very impressed. I wanted in!”

Head coach/owner David Lange is glad that Welch is on his side, and not an opponent. “JaVon is a proven leader. He shows it time and time again. He is an outstanding linebacker, and is the kind of hitter that make running backs think twice before running to his side.”

You can see Welch and the Hawks in action again a week from Saturday at Skinner Field when they host the Kalamazoo Grizzlies at Skinner Field. We hope to see you there!

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Sports physicals for 2016-17 school year available in June

Sports physicals for the 2016-17 school year will be held on Thursday, June 16, 2016 and Wednesday, August 3, 2016 at Cherry Health (behind Red Hawk Elementary) from 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Call ahead for an appointment at 616-696-3470.

Students must bring a signed parental consent form and an MHSAA physical card to the appointment. Forms are available in the High School Athletic Office or online at http://highschool.csredhawks.org/Athletics/index.html.

Please remember to complete the medical history section of the physical card before the student’s appointment. Parents are encouraged to attend the visit.

Services are provided regardless of ability to pay and no money is needed at the time of visit. However, services may be billed to insurance when possible, so please have your insurance or Medicaid card available.

Completed physical forms are required.

Per MHSAA, all 2016-17 athletes must have a physical on file dated after April 15, 2016.

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Sam Taylor signs to play at Muskegon Community College


Cedar Springs High School senior Sam Taylor has signed a National Letter of Intent to continue her basketball career at Muskegon Community College.

Sam is a four-year letter winner for the Red Hawks basketball team. Over the past two seasons, Taylor was team captain and compiled averages of 7.4 points, 3.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.6 steals per game. She was often tasked with defending the other team’s top player.

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Hawks fight elements to benefit Brison Ricker


By Shae Brophy

On a cold Saturday evening at Skinner Field, the West Michigan Hawks went to battle with a very game Lake Michigan Havoc team in a benefit game for Cedar Springs resident Brison Ricker.

A scoreless first quarter was highlighted by a blocked field goal by Hawks safety Robert Bell. The second quarter saw Lake Michigan jump out to a 12-0 lead, which they brought into the locker room at halftime. Bell had another highlight reel play in the quarter, however, when he intercepted a pass over the middle of the field.

The Hawks struggled to move the ball in the third quarter, as the Havoc opened up a 24-0 lead. Darius Bell recovered a fumble in the quarter for West Michigan, which was the lone highlight of the quarter for the Hawks.

The Havoc scored another touchdown early in the fourth quarter to extend their lead to 30-0. Darnell Madison gave the Hawks some momentum on the ensuing kickoff, as he rumbled all the way up to the Havoc 35-yard line before finally being caught. The Havoc also committed a personal foul penalty on the return, allowing the Hawks to start from the 20-yard line. Javon Welch got the Hawks on the board later in the drive on a seven-yard touchdown scamper, closing the gap to 30-6.

After a botched snap on an attempted Havoc punt, the Hawks recovered the ball in Lake Michigan territory on the next drive. Monta Swanigan capitalized on the good starting field position, reeling in a pass from Brant Brooks for a 22-yard touchdown. After the two-point conversion, the score was 30-14, which held up as the final score.

“We had a tough night,” said head coach David Lange. “We learned a very important lesson in this game. Hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard, and we didn’t work hard enough. We made a lot of little mistakes on defense, and our offense wasn’t consistent enough.”

Despite the final score, the Hawks were able to raise $247 for Brison Ricker, as he continues his fight against a brain tumor.

The Hawks will be in action again this Saturday at Skinner Field, when they host the Indiana Wolf Pack. The team will be putting on another benefit during this game, as well. Stephanie Cornwell, who is battling breast cancer, will receive the benefits from a 50/50 drawing, as well as other giveaways. Gates open at 5 p.m. with kickoff scheduled for 6 p.m. We hope to see you there!

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Meet the Hawks: Eric Freeman

West Michigan Hawks linebacker Eric Freeman

West Michigan Hawks linebacker Eric Freeman

By Shae Brophy

Meet West Michigan Hawks linebacker Eric Freeman. A 2007 graduate from Wyoming Park High School, Freeman has always stood out on the gridiron. After being named a captain in each of the first three years of high school, he took his senior year off to prepare for college ball. Freeman was a preferred walk-on at Michigan State University under defensive coordinator Pat Narduzzi. After careful consideration, Freeman decided to transfer to Grand Rapids Community College to not only be able to play, but also to see if he was mature enough for the college lifestyle.

Freeman’s biggest idol is his grandfather, German Lopez. “He worked at a camp in Cuba for two years basically for free so that he could legally come to the USA with my mother and grandmother,” said Freeman. “He came here knowing zero English, building his life from the ground up, allowing my siblings and I to live the blessed and fortunate lives that we live.”

When he isn’t laying devasting hits on the football field, Freeman enjoys trying to identify which sports his three-year-old son enjoys, lifting, playing basketball, and his PlayStation.

“Mr. David Lange is very serious about this organization,” he said. “I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself and bigger than football. Mr. Lange and I had multiple conversations, and the simple fact that we play all of our games for a greater cause, whether it be Mr. Alan Beamer and his fight against Alzheimer’s Disease, or Brison Ricker and his fight against a brain tumor, made this a very easy decision. Every game is played for a much bigger reason than just the game we love.”

Head coach/owner David Lange sees something special in Freeman. “Eric is our run stopper without a doubt,” he said. “You’d have better success trying to run through a wall. He is very smart at his position and is a great teacher as well. He brings so much intensity and tenacity to our defense, it’s scary. Eric is a monster and a go-getter, exactly the type of player you want on your team.”

We hope to see you at Skinner Field on Saturday evening as the Hawks benefit Stephanie Cornwell in her fight against breast cancer. The Indiana Wolf Pack are coming to town, and the Hawks have vengeance on their minds!

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JV golf wrapping up season


The Cedar Springs Boy’s JV Golf team finished up the OK Bronze season this past week with matches at Glenkerry (Greenville) and English Hills (FHN).

Monday the boys shot a 215 to finish in 5th. Cade O’Conner was medalists with a 50, Dylan Tanis 52, Jarred Reyers 54, and Ethan Brown 59. Wednesday the golfers finished 3rd with a 209. Tanis was medalist with 48, Reyers 51, Kevin Galloway 55 and O’Conner 55.

“The guys have played better,” said Coach London. “We have one more week to improve, so I am hoping to see some good scores.”

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Meet the Hawks: Robert Bell

Robert Bell

Robert Bell

Meet West Michigan Hawks safety Robert Bell. A graduate from East Grand Rapids High School, Bell earned a scholarship to play collegiate football at the University of Toledo. He also played for Team USA in the World Junior Championships in 2009, when the team earned a gold medal. Bell took his talents to Europe to play professionally for two seasons after college.

When not on the football field, Bell enjoys doing whatever comes to mind with his girl friend Amanda. Two-day vacations, golfing, and swimming are among their favorite activities.

Bell’s biggest idol is his mother, Dawn Wright. “She still works overtime at her career job and for the past seven years has picked up a second job just to keep herself busy,” said Bell. “She’s taught me positive ways to deal with adversity and I thank her everyday for being my mother and a great example of the way to be in life! Loving, caring, hardworking!”

Bell is ecstatic to be a part of the Hawks organization. “I’ve been a part of many different organizations, whether I’ve been paid, or paying to play, and I believe this organization is headed in the right direction,” he said. “The fact that Coach Lange implements playing for causes is the simple fact as to why I put my body on the line for this team. I want to be a Hawk for every reason that we are out helping the community and giving back to those who are in need of the awareness!”

Coach David Lange enjoys the experience that Bell brings to the table.

“Robert Bell is by far above and beyond one of the most humbling and easy people to be around,” he said. “His love for the game is second to none. His football background is enough to make any coach smile, playing college ball for the Toledo Rockets, then taking his talents over seas. This guy is good and is the kind of hitter that makes your jaw drop. His knowledge of football is at the top. He is definitely a great leader that I think a lot, if not all, can look up to.”

Bell and the Hawks are in action again this Saturday, when they host the Lake Michigan Havoc at Skinner Field. This game is a benefit for Cedar Springs resident Brison Ricker, who is battling a brain tumor. Tickets will be $6, with doors opening at 5 p.m. and kickoff scheduled for 6 p.m. We hope to see you there!

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Ellie Ovokaitys signs letter of intent with Cornerstone

Ellie Ovokaitys recently signed a letter of intent to run for Cornerstone University. She is shown here with her parents.

Ellie Ovokaitys recently signed a letter of intent to run for Cornerstone University. She is shown here with her parents.

On Wednesday, May 4, senior Red Hawk runner Ellie Ovokaitys, the daughter of Tom and Donna Ovokaitys, signed her National Letter of Intent to continue her running career at Cornerstone University. Ellie will run both cross country and track, and has run cross country and track all four years of high school.

“Ellie was a leader on her team and finished her cross country season at the MHSAA Cross Country State Finals, which she ran the last three years,” said Varsity Coach Marie Covey. “Ellie also ran at the MHSAA Track and Field State Finals.”

“Ellie has been an essential part of the success of the girls cross country program during her four years running,” said Middle School Coach Julie Weiler. “Ellie has helped the team make it to state as well as this fall qualifying individually. She has been all conference in cross country as well. Ellie is one of the leading distance runners in track and is always willing to run in events where needed.”

We wish Ellie the best as she continues her journey as a Golden Eagle.


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JV golf starts conference  play

The Cedar Springs JV Boy’s Golf team began the OK Bronze season last  week competing at Northview and Forest Hills Eastern Jamborees. Monday, at Boulder Creek, the squad shot a 208 and finished 5th. Jarred Reyers was medalist with a 49, Paul Krajewski 52, James Powell 53 and Cade O’Conner 54. Wednesday, at Arrowhead, the team shot a 221 and finished 5th. James Powell was medalist with a 51, Paul Krajewski 55, Jarred Reyers 56, and Cade O’Conner 59.

“We are playing alright with our top 4,” said Coach London. “We need the rest of the team to pick it up.”

Cedar Springs was scheduled to  play at Cedar Chase on Monday and Maple Hill Wednesday this week.

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