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Be the Referee

Play Clock Experiment 

From time to time, the MHSAA receives permission from the national rules making body, the National Federation of State High School Associations, to experiment with a new rule.

This fall in high school football, Michigan schools can experiment with a 40-second play clock.

In this experiment, the 40-second play clock begins at the end of the previous play, giving teams consistency from week to week when the offense can next snap the ball.

With using the traditional 25-second play clock, it really depends on the referee of the game in terms of the pace on how quickly the offenses can go.

Be the Referee is a weekly message from the Michigan High School Athletics Association that is designed to help educate people on the rules in different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

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Show your Spirit


Fall 2016 Cedar Springs High School Athletics Spirit Themes all attending are encouraged to participate

September 1 – Beach Out Football vs Sparta

September 9 – Red White and Blue Football vs Greenville

September 16 – Black Out Football vs Northview

September 23 – Neon Out Football vs GR Christian

September 24 – Red Out Cross Country Red Hawk Invite

September 28 – White Out Tennis vs Cadillac

September 30 – White Out Football vs Lowell

October 4 – #Rickerstrong Soccer vs Greenville

October 7 – Pink Game Football vs FHN

October 14 – Red Out Football vs FHC

October 20 – Black Out Volleyball vs FHE

October 21 – 80s Night Football vs Ottawa Hills

November 4 – Gray Day Band During the School Day

Come out and support Red Hawk Athletics.  Follow on Twitter @Cedar_Athletics

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Mark Your Calendar 

Homecoming Football Game 

September 16  @ 7 pm vs Northview Wildcats

Red Hawk Stadium

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Amazing Race experience in Sleeping Bear Dunes

Last year’s Michigan Adventure Race took place at Silver Lake. Photo by Jamie Geysbeek Photography.

Last year’s Michigan Adventure Race took place at Silver Lake. Photo by Jamie Geysbeek Photography.

Last year’s Michigan Adventure Race took place at Silver Lake. Photo by Jamie Geysbeek Photography.

Last year’s Michigan Adventure Race took place at Silver Lake. Photo by Jamie Geysbeek Photography.

The Michigan Adventure Race: Sleeping Bear Edition will be held September 17, 2016, in and around Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Glen Arbor, Mich. It offers participants a unique way to celebrate the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary and a rare opportunity to race in a National Park/Lakeshore. Registration is open through September 14 at www.miadventurerace.com.

Teams of one, two or three will set out from The Leelanau School in Glen Arbor by running/hiking, biking and paddling to on- and off-trail checkpoints pre-marked on a map, collecting as many as they can within either five or ten hours. Racers find that they get just enough of a break to catch their breath, stopping to read the map, punch their scorecard at each checkpoint, and transition between running, biking and paddling.

The 5-hour race includes the opportunity to conquer five Amazing Race-like challenges, revealed just before the race. These require no special training; just a little brain and body power such as running into a woods to find and solve a few word puzzles or tossing and catching refreshing Lake Michigan water between teammates. Five-hour racers can use a mountain or road bike to get from one area to another. Rentals available. A short paddle section will be available as well but race organizers will provide the boats.

Those choosing the challenging 10-hour race must trek, bike and paddle to more difficult and distant checkpoint locations in place of the Amazing Race challenges. Ten-hour racers must have a mountain or cyclocross bike. Rentals available. Rental canoes and kayaks also available or racers can bring their own to save some money.

While adventure racing shares some elements of triathlons, the most striking difference is that adventure racers must figure out their own route from one checkpoint to another using a pre-marked map and cutting through woods often void of trails. A good sense of direction and teamwork are critical skills. Basic compass skills are helpful as well (a free clinic will be available on August 27 in Grand Rapids; an online version is on the race site in the Learn More section).

The charity partner is Preserve Historic Sleeping Bear whose mission is to preserve and interpret the rich heritage of historic structures and cultural landscapes of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Multiple Amazing Race-like challenges during the race will involve these historic structures or cultural practices of those who once lived here.

For more information about the race and to register, go to www.MIAdventureRace.com and visit www.facebook.com/MIAdventureRace to join a growing community of adventure racers.


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Be the Referee


By Mark Uyl, Asst. Director, MHSAA

Be the Referee is a weekly message from the Michigan High School Athletics Association that is designed to help educate people on the rules in different sports, to help them better understand the art of officiating, and to recruit officials.

Clipping in the free-blocking zone

Most of the recent rules changes in high school football have all dealt with increasing player safety.  The most significant change for the 2016 season focuses on safety, especially for offensive and defensive linemen.

For many years, the Free Blocking Zone, that area between the two offensive tackles, was an area where two types of blocks that are illegal on other parts of the field—blocks below the waist and clipping—were legal if it was done by linemen, initially at the start of the play.

For this season, clipping is now an illegal block, even in the Free Blocking Zone; while blocks below the waist continue to be legal from in front.


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Hawks close out regular season with loss in Ohio

Photo by Marcie Crouch

Photo by Marcie Crouch

By Shae Brophy

In a game that made very little difference in the final standings, the Hawks traveled to Ohio on Saturday, July 30, to close out their regular season with a matchup against the Lima Warriors. With a berth in the playoffs already clinched, and a Battle Creek Coyotes victory on Saturday, the Hawks were already locked in as the five seed in the Big 8 division.

The Hawks battled in Lima, but ultimately came up on the short end of a 53-32 final score. Wide receiver Monta Swanigan led the way offensively for West Michigan, finishing with yet another three-touchdown game. One of Swanigan’s touchdowns came in the first quarter when he struck from 65 yards to give the Hawks their first points of the game. Running back Eric Woodfork also found the end zone in the first half for the Hawks, scoring on a three-yard run.

The Hawks trailed by a 28-16 margin at halftime, but were never able to get back into the game. Swanigan’s two second-half touchdowns kept the score respectable, but West Michigan would not see the lead again on the evening.

“This was a very tough game opponent in the Lima Warriors, and they played their hearts out,” said head coach David Lange. “We made some good plays, and had chances to make more plays, but in the end we were not able to make the big plays we needed to get back in the game.”

Despite the loss, the Hawks will make their first playoff appearance in franchise history. As the fifth seed in the Big Eight division, the Hawks will travel to Battle Creek for a rematch with the Coyotes. Battle Creek won the first contest earlier this season by a score of 30-20. The game will played on August 13.

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Hawks fall to Force, drop third consecutive game


By Shae Brophy

A warm evening at Skinner Field saw the West Michigan Hawks host the West Michigan Force on Saturday, July 23. With both teams holding identical 4-2 records, this game had a big influence on playoff position.

After a hard fought battle, the Hawks came up on the short end. The Force took home a 30-14 victory, ensuring that the Hawks will finish no higher than 4th in the “Big 8” division, and will not get a bye in the first round of the playoffs.

The Force scored a touchdown on their first drive of the game, taking an 8-0 lead. Hawks wide receiver Monta Swanigan tied it up on the next drive, scoring a 12-yard touchdown on a pass from Charles Manny Hodges. That tied the score at 8-8. The Force scored two consecutive touchdowns in the second quarter, taking a 22-8 lead into halftime.

Things didn’t get any better in the third quarter for the Hawks, as the Force scored another touchdown, and increased their lead to 30-8. Robert Bell brought the Hawks a little closer, scoring on a 6 yard passing play, but the 30-14 deficit was as close as the Hawks would get.

“We’re facing some major adversity right now, and we aren’t responding the way we should at this point,” said head coach David Lange. “We still have a lot to play for this season, and we still expect to make some noise in the playoffs. But right now, we need to get back to the basics, which is what we expect to do this weekend when we travel to Ohio to play the Lima Warriors.”

Despite the loss, the Hawks were able to raise $933 for 3-year-old Libby Walla, who suffers from a disease known as PVL.

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Clipping clipped as 2016-17 high school sports year begins


By John Johnson, MHSAA


EAST LANSING, Mich. – Clipping has been eliminated in high school football, the biggest playing rules change on the horizon for member schools of the Michigan High School Athletic Association, which formally begin practice for 2016-17 fall sports next week.

Practice in football must begin on Aug. 8 for all schools wishing to begin regular-season games the weekend of Aug. 25-27. Schools must have 12 days of preseason practice at all levels before their first game, and those 12 days of practice may not occur before 16 calendar days.

Practice sessions for all other sports begin Wednesday (Aug. 10). In golf and tennis, competition may commence no earlier than after three separate days of team practice, and not before seven calendar days. The first day competition may take place in golf and tennis is Aug. 17. In all other fall sports, contests can take place after seven days of practice for the team and not before nine calendar days. The first day competition may take place in cross country, tennis, soccer, swimming and diving, and volleyball is Aug. 19.

This fall, two football dates again precede Labor Day, and a number of MHSAA schools will play their first varsity games on Thursday, Aug. 25. In Week 1, 131 varsity games will be played on Thursday, 169 contests will be played on Friday, and 17 games will be played on Saturday. In the second week, 245 games will take place on Thursday, 62 will be played on Friday and 6 contests are on Saturday.

Eliminating clipping from the high school game is the latest step in the national playing rules promulgated by the National Federation of State High School Associations. Clipping previously was permitted in the free-blocking zone when it met three conditions; however, clipping is now illegal anywhere on the field at any time. According to the rule, the free-blocking zone is defined as a rectangular area extending laterally 4 yards either side of the spot of the snap and 3 yards behind each line of scrimmage.

A few notable changes will go into effect for other fall sports:

•  In cross country, a participant who assists an injured or ill competitor when the appropriate health care professional is not available no longer will be disqualified from the race; only the runner receiving assistance will be disqualified for not finishing the race unassisted.

•  In soccer, changes were made to the offside rule that makes it match offside rules for the NCAA and FIFA/USSF. The most notable change states that a player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball (except from a deliberate save) is not considered to have gained an advantage and can move ahead toward attempting to score a goal. A player who does receive the ball while in offside position after a deliberate save remains offside, and the result is an indirect kick for the defending team.

•  Also in soccer, eliminating of rough play will be a point of emphasis this school year. Rough play including contact above the shoulder often results in player injury.

•  In volleyball, a change to rules on uniforms aims to make the libero more recognizable from all angles. Beginning this fall, the libero, her teammates, or both will be required to wear a solid-colored uniform top; the libero’s top must clearly contract the predominant color(s) of her teammates’ uniform tops. Also related to the uniforms, soft hair devices, formerly no more than two inches in width, may now be up to three inches in width.

•  Also in volleyball, a service toss that contacts a basketball backboard or its supports in a vertical position over the serving area is a service fault and not eligible for a re-serve. The opponent receives a point and the next serve.

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Hawks fall on Saturday, still clinch playoff spot

Brant Brooks celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter. Photo by Marcie Crouch.

Brant Brooks celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter. Photo by Marcie Crouch.

By Shae Brophy

With the top spot in the MLFA’s Big Eight division on the line, the West Michigan Hawks hosted the Toledo Thunder on Saturday evening at Skinner Field. The teams shared identical 4-1 records coming into the game, and a win for either team would put them in the drivers seat for the top seed in the division.

A tough, hard fought game saw the Thunder come out on top with a 12-7 victory. After returning the game’s opening kickoff 99 yards to the one-yard line, Toledo opened the scoring with a one yard scamper on the game’s first play from scrimmage. After missing the extra point, the score remained 6-0.

The Hawks responded late in the second quarter, when Brant Brooks hauled in a five yard pass for a touchdown from quarterback Charles Manny Hodges. The extra point gave the Hawks a 7-6 lead, which they took into halftime.

Toledo was able to answer early in the third quarter, regaining the lead on a 26 yard touchdown run. Their two-point attempt was stuffed by the Hawks, keeping the score at a reasonable 12-7 margin.

With the score still the same late in the fourth quarter, the Hawks got the ball back at their own nine-yard line with just over a minute remaining. A big play brought them out to the Toledo 45-yard line with 24 seconds left, but a holding penalty and the subsequent 10-second run off put the Hawks in a tough spot, with the ball on their own 45-yard line and seven seconds remaining. On the final play of the game, they completed a long pass down field, but they were not able to find the end zone. Overall, Toledo outscored West Michigan by a margin of 393-242.

Cornerback Omar Haynes finished the game with three interceptions for the Hawks, while linebacker JaVon Welch had 12.5 tackles.

Despite the loss, the Hawks still clinched the franchise’s first appearance in the playoffs as a result of losses from other teams across the league.

“I thought we played a solid football game,” said head coach David Lange. “We missed a few opportunities to take the lead, but overall I thought we adjusted nicely. All we can do is look to the next game.”

The Hawks will be in action again this Saturday at Skinner Field when they host the West Michigan Force. Tickets are $6 a piece, with children eight and under free. The Hawks will be raffling off numerous items from local businesses, such as pizza from Hungry Howies and Vitale’s, gift cards to KC’s, and much much more! We hope to see you there!


“An incident occurred in the stands of Saturday evening’s West Michigan Hawks game. Members from the West Michigan Force attended the game to scout our team before our game against them this upcoming weekend. I’d like to personally and formally apologize to the fans who witnessed this incident. The actions from these players were unacceptable, and will not be tolerated by the Hawks or Skinner Field. The Force were reprimanded by the league for their actions, with eight of their players being suspended for this weekend’s game. I have also ensured that there will be a heightened police presence at the game, and a security presence on the field. Our fans and the safety of our fans is our highest priority when we play at home, and we have taken steps to ensure that the integrity of the upcoming game will be of the highest quality.”

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Meet the Hawks: Rick Loper

West Michigan Hawks defensive end Rick Loper.

West Michigan Hawks defensive end Rick Loper.

Meet West Michigan Hawks defensive end Rick Loper. Originally from Grand Rapids, Loper attended and graduated from Cedar Springs High School in 1998. He started playing football in third grade, and played all the way through school until graduation. He also wrestled and ran track in school, and found himself in the sport of mixed martial arts later in life.

Known primarily for his classic “hat and shades” look, and his classic laugh, Loper has entrenched himself as a big piece of the team. Some of his role models include Michael Jordan, Barry Sanders, Shae Brophy, and his father Harrison Loper Sr. When he isn’t on the gridiron, some of Loper’s favorite things to do include hunting, fishing, camping, or anything else that involves being outside.

“When David (Lange) found me in the cage and told me he was starting a team, it was a calling from God,” said Loper. “Ever since high school, I have wanted to play one more time. Playing for two years has been an amazing adventure. I love the coaches, the fans, this team, and Cedar Springs.”

Loper has high praise for head coach David Lange. “What I love about Coach Lange is that he has brought this team together to help the community. It means that I am able to make a difference in my community through playing football. Coach also cares about every single person on this team, and the community as well. It means the world to us players to be able to raise money to help others who are struggling in life, and to help put a smile on their faces in truly priceless.”

Lange’s praise for Loper is quite high, as well. “Loper has heart and dedication like no other. The excitement that he brings to this team when he steps on the field is a huge motivation for not only myself, but for the team as well. He has proven he can be a play maker and I have no doubt that people will continue to hear his name.”

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