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Hawks win last game of season 49-6


By Shae Brophy

The West Michigan Hawks completed their first season on Saturday evening, August 7, and in a very big way. The Hawks hosted the Michigan Grizzlies at Skinner Field, in a game that was dedicated to Charlie Finch and the Finch family. (Charlie Finch was killed in an auto accident earlier in the week.)

Things got off to a shaky start. Quarterback Jeff Krebs threw a pass that was intercepted and returned for a Grizzlies touchdown early in the first quarter. The two point attempt was stuffed by the Hawks, but the score was 6-0. From there, the Hawks took over. Krebs connected with wide receiver Darwin Mathis for a Hawks touchdown on the next drive, and Dontae Ensley’s extra point was up and good, giving the Hawks their first lead, 7-6. On their next drive, the Hawks moved the ball all the way down inside the 5 yard line, when Walter Trotter rumbled his way into the end zone for his first touchdown of the year. It was 14-6 Hawks.

S-West-Mich-hawks2Running back Jeremiah Trotter joined the fun on the next drive, also scoring his first touchdown of the season to make it 21-6 Hawks. On their last drive of the half, Krebs tossed a deep bomb to Ensley, who brought in the touchdown as the buzzer sounded to end the first half 29-6 Hawks.

The second half was no different than the first. In the third quarter, running back Kameron Snyder found the end zone for the first time this season, making it 36-6 Hawks. From there, running back Dre Grays took over the scoring. He recorded his first two touchdowns of the season, one in the third quarter and another on a 45-yard run in the 4th quarter. That made the final score 49-6 Hawks.

On top of a stellar game offensively, the Hawks made plenty of noise on defense as well. Safety Dylan Bogucki had two interceptions, and cornerback Omar Haynes had one. Cornerback Joel Paasch and linebacker Kameron Snyder both had fumble recoveries, and the defensive line/linebackers were in the backfield all evening, recording numerous sacks.

“The last game of the season showed me how much we grew as a team, yet we also grew as a family, and brothers in arms. The modern day gladiators,” said Dre Grays, who ran for two touchdowns in the game. “We do it all for the love of the game, and our beautiful fans. Also, I would like to send my love and prayers to the Finch family. Hawk for life!”

“I thought we played one heck of a game. What you saw at that game is just a glimpse of what is to come next season,” added head coach/owner David Lange. “Our guys played good hard football, and they played with intensity for four quarters. What makes me the happiest is the fact that we were able to raise $580 for the Finch family. I can’t imagine the pain that they are going through, and I truly hope that we were able to make their day at least a little bit better.”

The West Michigan Hawks would like to thank all of their fans who made this season possible. Without the fans, we would not be here! Thank to you every fan who came out to a game, followed us on Facebook, or visited our website. We appreciate every single one of you, and we can’t wait to see you again next season!

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New rules


Reminders promote safety as 2015-16 sports year begins

from the MHSAA


The first practices began this week for approximately 110,000 student-athletes taking part in eight sports in which the MHSAA sponsors postseason tournaments. Football practice for more than 40,000 players began at MHSAA schools Monday, Aug. 10, followed by first practices for all other fall sports Aug. 12.

Each year, the MHSAA provides information to its member schools to help them prepare for hot weather practice and game conditions in the late summer and early fall. Those resources—including the MHSAA’s Model Policy for Managing Heat & Humidity—are available on the revamped MHSAA.com Health & Safety web page at http://www.mhsaa.com/schools/healthsafetyresources.

This also will be the second season for football practice changes made last fall to promote heat acclimatization and limit helmet-to-helmet contact. And last week, 70 MHSAA high schools from across Michigan received training to take part in one of two sideline concussion testing pilot programs expected to benefit 20,000 student-athletes over multiple sports.

“There’s been a lot of attention focused on football regarding head safety, but the fact is all school sports need attention to the safety of student-athletes,” MHSAA Executive Director John E. “Jack” Roberts said. “We’re addressing all sports at all levels, practice and competition, to make sure our staff, who are interacting with the young people, know the best practices for safety in school sports. And we’re trying to communicate to the public that school sports really are safer than ever.”

The MHSAA Representative Council adopted in 2013 the Model Policy for Managing Heat & Humidity that, while not mandated for member schools, has been adopted by many at the local level. The plan directs schools to begin monitoring the heat index at the activity site once the air temperature reaches 80 degrees and provides recommendations when the heat index reaches certain points, including ceasing activities when it rises above 104 degrees.

Roberts reminded that the first days of formal practices in hot weather should be more for heat acclimatization than the conditioning of athletes, and that practices in such conditions need planning to become longer and more strenuous over a gradual progression of time. He added schools also must consider moving practices to different times of day, different locations, or change practice plans to include different activities depending on the conditions.

To assist in acclimatization, the football practice rule changes of 2014 allow for only helmets to be worn during the first two days, only shoulder pads to be added on the third and fourth days, and full pads to not be worn until the fifth day of team practice. The policy in detail can be found on the Football page of the MHSAA Website at http://www.mhsaa.com/portals/0/documents/FB/practicepolicy.pdf.

Practice in football must begin on Aug. 10 for all schools wishing to begin regular-season games the weekend of Aug. 27-29. 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 began Wednesday (Aug.12). 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. 19. 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. 21.

This fall, two football dates precede Labor Day, and a number of MHSAA schools will play their first varsity games on Thursday, Aug. 27.  In Week 1, 123 varsity games will be played on Thursday, 176 contests will be played on Friday, and 14 games will be played on Saturday.

Continuing the focus on player safety, additional rules changes were made in football for 2015 that again focus on minimizing injury risk:

*The definition of unnecessary roughness was expanded to include excessive contact with an opponent, including a defenseless player, which incites roughness. A defenseless player can be considered one no longer involved in a play, a runner whose progress has been stopped, a player focused on receiving a kick or a receiver who has given up on an errant pass, or a player already on the ground. Unnecessary and excessive contact can include blindside blocks and players leaving their feet to contact an airborne receiver attempting to secure the ball.

*The grabbing of a quarterback’s facemask by a defensive player, if it does not including the twisting, pulling or turning of the facemask, will be ruled incidental and result in a five-yard penalty instead of a roughing-the-passer penalty and automatic first down.

*A 2014 rule change stated that the kicking team must have at least four players on each side of the kicker when ready-for-play is signaled; a change this season states four players must be lined up on each side of the kicker when the ball is kicked. That fourth player may shift after ready-for-play but before the kick to comply with this formation rule, but may not go in motion more than five yards behind the ball. If the shifting player travels more than five yards behind the ball, it is a dead-ball foul for encroachment.

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

*In cross country, the loosening on what runners are allowed to wear during competition continued after a ban on jewelry was lifted in 2014. Runners also now may wear sunglasses, and previous restrictions have been eliminated for specific styles of head gear—ski bands, head bands, stocking caps and hoods attached to other clothing. Previously, those head gear had to meet criteria including color and size of brand logos displayed.

*In swimming and diving, the ban on wearing jewelry has been lifted. The National Federation of State High School Associations deemed the ban unnecessary because there is little risk of injury to the competitor or opponents.

The 2015 Fall campaign culminates with postseason tournaments beginning with the Upper Peninsula Girls Tennis Finals the week of Sept. 28, and wraps up with the 11-Player Football Playoff Finals on Nov. 27 and 28. L.P. Finals – Oct. 16-17


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Meet the Hawks


By Shae Brophy

Meet #95, defensive tackle Walter Trotter. Originally from Indianapolis, Indiana, Trotter has played an essential role on the Hawks throughout the entire season. His athleticism has been extremely evident in every game played. Primarily used on the defensive side of the ball, he has caused trouble in opposing backfields every chance he has been given. A 2013 graduate of Crossroads Alternative High School in Kentwood, Walter has played football at the semi-pro level for two years, after playing one year in high school.

When Walter is not chasing quarterbacks around on the football field, he enjoys playing both basketball and video games. Some of his idols include (former Pittsburgh Steelers running back) Jerome Bettis, (NFL Hall of Fame defensive tackle) Warren Sapp, and (current Miami Dolphins defensive tackle) Ndamukong Suh.

“I wanted to be a Hawk because it’s a new team and I figured it could be something that I would love to be a part of. A way to find another family, and to play football again,” said Trotter.

When asked about Trotter, head coach/owner David Lange is clearly quite happy to have Trotter on his side of the ball. “One of the scariest things for a football player to see is an athletic big man who plays on the line, and can run a 4.7 second 40-yard dash. Walter is an absolute animal on the line. There is a reason he has been nominated by his teammates to play in the All Star Game. He has talent, he has heart, and he is an extremely solid athlete,” said Lange.

The Hawks will be in action again this Saturday, in their last game of the season. The game will be at Skinner Field, as the Hawks welcome in the Michigan Grizzlies. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., with the gates opening at 6. If you have not made it out to experience a Hawks game in person, you will not want to miss your last chance this season! We hope to see you there!

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Hawks fall to Jaguars 14-9 


Fail to qualify for postseason

By Shae Brophy

The West Michigan Hawks traveled to the east side of the state Saturday, August 1, for their last matchup of the regular season. The Motor City Jaguars played host to the Hawks in Detroit, on a hot and sunny afternoon. With the winner of this game advancing to the Crossroads Tournament, this was the biggest game of the season for both teams.

The Hawks started the scoring, earning a safety on an attempted Jaguars punt. The snap sailed over the punter’s head into the end zone, and with heavy pressure being applied by the Hawks, the punter was able to get to the ball first and bat it out the back of the end zone for the safety.

The score remained 2-0 until halfway through the second, when quarterback Jeff Krebs was stripped of the ball, and it was returned all the way for a Jaguars touchdown. The Jags converted on their two point attempt, making the score 8-2.

The Hawks responded just before halftime. Within reach of the end zone, Krebs pitched the ball to running back Nate Johnson, who then passed to a wide open Darwin Mathis in the end zone for a touchdown. The extra point from Dontae Ensley was good, making the score 9-8 Hawks, which it remained at halftime.

A key play occurred during the third quarter. With the Hawks still leading 9-8, Nate Johnson attempted his second trick-play pass of the day. The pass was intercepted in the end zone, and ran out to about the five-yard line. The Jaguars’ returner then ran backwards back into the end zone before being hit and fumbling the ball out of bounds. The referees initially called the play a safety, but after consulting with one another, the call was overturned and the Jaguars were given a touchback.

With three minutes remaining in the game, the Jaguars struck for a touchdown on a 25-yard passing play. The two point attempt was stuffed by the Hawks, however, making the score 14-9.  However, the Hawks were not able to score again. While the team did force a total of six turnovers (five on fourth down stops, one fumble recovery), they committed six of their own (two stops on fourth down, three fumbles, and interception).

“We had our chances to win the game,” said head coach David Lange. “There were a few times where we shot ourselves in the foot, which makes it hard to get momentum going. Are we disappointed we didn’t make it to the post-season? Yes, absolutely. But, considering the fact that nobody in this league expected us to win a single game, let alone have an opportunity to make it in to the post-season, speaks volumes about how far this team has come in such a short amount of time. Right now we have a bitter taste in our mouths, but the big picture is what we need to focus on. The amount of pride and respect I have for our guys cannot be put into words.”

Although the regular season has been completed, the Hawks do still have one non-league game left on their schedule. They will host the Michigan Grizzlies this Saturday at Skinner Field. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., with the gates opening at 6. For all the details on this game, be sure to follow the West Michigan Hawks on Facebook!

Shae Brophy is the media/public relations director for the West Michigan Hawks.

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Tennis tryouts


Cedar Springs High School holding practice/tryouts for the Boys Tennis Team on Wednesday, August 12, from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. All participants must have their sports physical completed prior to August 12 and at the least have made a partial payment to the CSHS Athletics Dept. (Pay to Play requirement).

The link here will take you to the required forms:


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Hawks drop close game to Vipers


By Shae Brophy

Saturday evening, the West Michigan Hawks hosted the #7 ranked Michigan Vipers. In what was a very close game, the Hawks were unable to finish their attempt at a comeback, and fell short by a final score of 20-13.

Things did not go according to plan for the Hawks as the game began. The Vipers were able to score three touchdowns in the first quarter, and take a 20-0 lead going in to the second quarter. From that point on, the Hawks defense took over, and the offense did the same.

Hawks wide receiver Dontae Ensley scored two touchdowns in the second quarter, giving the Hawks some much needed momentum going into the halftime break, with the score being 20-13. The Hawks defense came out firing in the third quarter, as well. Cornerback Omar Haynes had an interception, and the defense forced two turnovers on fourth down in the third quarter, giving the Hawks offense a chance to get back on track. After a couple of attempts from the Vipers side of the field, the Hawks were unable to find the end zone.

In the fourth quarter, with the score still 20-13 and four minutes remaining on the clock, the Hawks were given their biggest chance to get back in the game. Cornerback Joel Paasch intercepted the ball at the Hawks’ goal line, and returned it all the way back to the Vipers’ 40. The Hawks proceeded to get into the red zone, but with 1:06 left on the clock, a Vipers interception put the game away.

“The Vipers started out firing on all cylinders. They jumped out to a 14-0 lead really early but it didn’t bother us like it has in past games. We made them play our game from that point on, and we started to wear them down,” said Ensley. “After we made the score 20-13, we had all the hope in the world that we could shock not just the Vipers, but the entire league. It was a very hard fought game, but we came up just short in the end.”

Added head coach David Lange, “I thought we started the game a little flat footed, but we were able to pick it up. We played a heck of a game for the last three quarters, and our guys put it all on the line, it just didn’t work out for us in the end. The guys on our team have really come together more than ever the last couple of weeks, and it is really showing by how we are playing. This week, we play for home field advantage in the post-season. That is where our minds will be for the entire week.”

For details on the Hawks game this weekend in Detroit against the Motor City Jaguars, be sure to follow the West Michigan Hawks on Facebook!

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Meet the Hawks: Austin Garza


By Shae Brophy

Meet #32, linebacker/tight end Austin Garza. The youngest member of the West Michigan Hawks, at 18 years old, Garza has played an essential role with the team. While playing football in high school, Austin also ran track and power-lifted. He was selected to be in the all star game for football during his senior year. It has been very obvious that there was no gap between his playing time, as he went straight from the high school gridiron onto the semi-pro stage.

Originally from Grant, Garza enjoys restoring cars and tractors, hunting and fishing, and hanging out with his friends and teammates. His idols include (former Detroit Lions running back) Barry Sanders, (former Baltimore Ravens linebacker) Ray Lewis, and (current Green Bay Packers linebacker) Clay Matthews.

To this point on the season, Garza has shown the tendancy to be in the right place at the right time to make important tackles, as well as showing some versatility by taking some reps at the tight end position.

“I wanted to join the Hawks because it was a chance to play football at the next level,” said Garza. “It sounded like fun to join a team that has just become established.”

Owner/head coach David Lange added: “Austin has a love of this game, no doubt about it! He is an amazing athlete, and is strong as an ox. He doesn’t let size intimidate him. He gives every play 110 percent and I can’t ask for more than that. He is a huge asset to this team!”

The Hawks will be making the journey to Detroit this weekend to take on the Motor City Jaguars to close out the regular season. With a victory in this game, the Hawks will earn home field advantage in the Crossroads Tournament. You are welcome to join the team as they travel to enemy territory. We would love to see you there!

Shae Brophy is the Media/Public Relations for the West Michigan Hawks.

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Hawks claim second consecutive victory


By Shae Brophy

The West Michigan Hawks hosted archrival Grand Rapids Thunder, on Saturday, at Skinner Field. In what was the most anticipated game of the season for both teams, there was a definite buzz among the players as the game began. The Hawks received the opening kickoff, and we were underway, at least momentarily. The Hawks took the ball deep into Thunder territory after quarterback Jeff Krebs completed a pass to receiver Darwin Mathis, which Mathis ran all the way down to the three yard line. Upon the completion of the play, the referees called for a break in the action due to lightning. This came at 2:58 into the game, and lasted for approximately 45 minutes. When the game resumed, the Hawks were unable to punch the ball in on four consecutive plays, allowing the Thunder to take over at the two-yard line. On the first Thunder play, Hawks linebacker Jeremy Watson met the running back in the end zone, forcing a fumble and recovering it for a Hawks touchdown.

With the Hawks leading 7-0, they scored another touchdown in the first quarter. Krebs completed a pass over the middle to tight end Stan Scott, who rumbled his way down the field, blowing past the Thunder backfield, for a 61-yard touchdown. Dontae Ensley’s extra point made the score 14-0, which held until the end of the first quarter.

The Thunder dominated the second quarter, scoring two touchdowns, and would lead 15-14 at halftime.

The Hawks were re-motivated at the half, however. With a large portion of members from the Hawks having played for the Thunder last season, it was obvious how badly they wanted to come out on top in this game, and you could tell by how they played in the second half.

With their team trailing, Krebs and Scott connected for another touchdown early in the fourth quarter, with the two point conversion failing, making the score 20-15. For Scott, they were his first two touchdowns of the season, while Krebs threw for three for the game, and now has 12 on the season.

The Hawks were able to force another turnover on downs with less than a minute to go, forcing an incomplete pass while the Thunder were in the red zone. Cornerback Omar Haynes swatted down the last gasp for the Thunder on fourth down, and the victory celebration was on. This was the first game of the season for the Hawks with no interceptions, but they still managed to force five turnovers (Watson fumble recovery for a touchdown, fumble recovered by free safety Craig Marquardt, and three turnovers on downs.) This brings their overall record to 2-4 on the season.

“It was a very intense game. We had moments where the momentum dropped, but we powered through in the end,” said Scott. “Even mother nature couldn’t stop the Hawks from soaring tonight.”

Head coach David Lange added: “At the beginning of the season, we were projected to lose every game we played, due to the fact that this is a first year team. We have proven that prediction to be wrong, twice now! We came out hot against our biggest rivals, and even though we lost that intensity going into the half, we were able to rally around each other to get the win. I’m very proud of these men, and proud to be the coach of this football team.”

With the victory, the Hawks have now qualified for the Crossroads Tournament, played at the end of the year. This is tournament for the top team from each division that does not qualify for the playoffs. With a victory in either of their last two games, the Hawks will clinch home field advantage in the first round of the tournament.

The Hawks will be playing at home again on Saturday against the Michigan Vipers. Tickets will be $5 at the gate, with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. Doors will open at 6.

Be sure to follow the team on Facebook for more details on the upcoming schedule, as well as the scheduling of the Crossroads Tournament!

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Meet the Hawks: Jeff Krebs


Jeff Krebs

Jeff Krebs

By Shae Brophy

Meet #9, quarterback Jeff Krebs. Originally from Howard City, Krebs  was a three-sport athlete in high school. He played baseball, basketball and football all four years of school. After high school, he continued playing baseball at Grand Rapids Junior College, where he played for two additional years. After taking a couple years off from football, Krebs jumped back in as the quarterback of the Hawks, and his development has been very fast paced.

When he is not on the football field, his hobbies include hunting, fishing, and spending time with friends and family. His idols include (NFL Hall of Fame quarterback) Archie Manning, and (Denver Broncos quarterback) Peyton Manning. In his six games with the Hawks, Krebs has thrown for over 1,000 yards, while throwing 12 touchdown passes. He also has shown a knack for running from the pocket, amassing 70 yards on the ground, as well as two rushing touchdowns.

“I wanted to play for the West Michigan Hawks because I have always had the desire to play football again,” said Krebs. “I thought it was pretty cool that they were starting a team in Cedar Springs, and I wanted to be a part of it.”

Head coach/owner David Lange has nothing but good things to say about Krebs. “Jeff is undoubatbly one of the better quarterbacks in the league. He has something that most quarterbacks don’t have—the ability to drop his shoulder and lay a hit on someone. Although I would sleep better at night if he would slide to protect himself, Jeff plays with such an intensity and aggressiveness that forbids him to ‘play it safe.’ He plays every down like it’s his last, and I respect him for it. He is the perfect quarterback for the style our team plays, and I’m proud of what he has accomplished thus far.”

Coming off their second consecutive win, Jeff and the Hawks will be playing at home again on Saturday. They will welcome the Michigan Vipers, who are coming off a 23-14 loss. Tickets will be $5 at the gate, with kickoff scheduled for 7pm. Doors will open at 6, and the Hawks would love to see you at the game!

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Meet the Hawks: Dontae Ensley


By Shae Brophy

S-Meet-the-hawks-Dontae-EnsleyMeet #5, punter/wide receiver Dontae Ensley. Originally from Cedar Springs, Ensley has one of the more interesting stories of anybody on the team. Members of the Hawks team noticed him, while he was kicking footballs at Skinner Field, before the team’s flag football tournament, a couple months ago. The players and coaching staff noticed he was regularly kicking the ball 60-70 yards, and it wasn’t long after that, when Ensley was offered a spot on the Hawks roster.

Ensley is currently attending Central Michigan University, as well as working in Cedar Springs, and playing for the Hawks. “I’ve been here my entire life, and made so many friends that I was able to keep throughout my life,” he said. “I don’t have any past experience with football. Everything I’m doing now is new to me, and I am actually really enjoying playing football. I wish I would have played it in high school.”

In his free time, Dontae enjoys playing hockey and soccer up at Central Michigan. “I’ve played hockey since I was 5, and I still love it now,” he remarked. “Soccer, on the other hand, I’ve played since my sophomore year of high school.” He also enjoys going to sporting events, and hanging out with his friends and family.

A couple of Dontae’s idols include (former Detroit Red Wings captain) Steve Yzerman, and (current Detroit Lion) Calvin Johnson. “I’ve always wanted to be just like Yzerman since I was younger, because for one he played for the Red Wings, and also because he was a great athlete,”explained Ensley.

When asked about why he decided to join the Hawks, he said, “I heard the story behind the story about this team. I wanted to be part of something that is more than just a group of guys.The leadership and organization this team possesses is on an entirely different level, too. I could tell that this wasn’t just a normal team. The fact that we have a whole community behind us is just that much more of a bonus.”

When asked what Ensley brings to the team, Coach Lange boasted, “Dontae is a true athlete. He has a gift and his willingness to learn is amazing. He has the leg to kick the ball exactly where we need, and the hands to come down with it when thrown his way. He is truly a huge part of the Hawks, and we are honored to have him on our team.”

Ensley and the West Michigan Hawks will be in action this Saturday, as they host the Grand Rapids Thunder at Skinner Field for area bragging rights. This is a rivalry game for the Hawks that you will not want to miss. Tickets will be available at the gate. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. We hope to see you there!

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