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Cedar Springs loses heartbreaker to Catholic Central

By Judy Reed

Red Hawk senior quarterback Aiden Brunin runs with the ball. He had 98 yards rushing against Catholic Central. Photo by Brandon Kramer Photography.

The win (and possible share of the conference title) was within their grasp. It was so close that the Red Hawks and their fans could taste it. With 38 seconds left on the game clock, Ryan Miller scored the touchdown that brought them within one point of the Catholic Central Cougars. Would they get the 2-point conversion to seal the win?

In what was being called a showdown for the title in the OK Gold conference, Cedar Springs hosted Catholic Central at Red Hawk Stadium last Friday, October 15. Both teams were 5-0 in conference. The Cougars have not lost a conference game since 2016, and were state champions in Division 5 in 2020, and in Division 4 in 2019, 2017, and 2016.

But no team since 2018 has scored as many points against Catholic Central as Cedar Springs did Friday night.

“I thought our offensive line played one of the best games I’ve ever witnessed,” said Cedar Springs Coach Gus Kapolka. “They were dominant from beginning to end. Our special teams were solid as well, with a kick return for a TD, and two blocked PAT’s (point after touchdown kicks).”

Red Hawk junior Antwuan Nicholls scored on an 80-yard kick off return against Catholic Central. Photo by Brandon Kramer Photography.

Cedar Springs hit the scoreboard first, when with 6:52 left in the first, Ryan Mitchell ran 10 yards to the left to score. The 2-point conversion was no good.

Catholic Central then scored with 2:40 left in the first, when quarterback John Passinault ran right for a four-yard touchdown. The point after kick by John Meyer was good.

With 2:27 left in the first, Catholic Central then kicked off to Cedar Springs. Antwuan Nicholls got the ball on the Cedar Springs 20-yard line and ran it 80 yards down field to score the next touchdown. Alex Ream’s run for two more points was good.

With 1:23 left in the first, CC scored again, when Passinault threw to Nolan Zeigler for a 14-yard touchdown. The Red Hawks didn’t allow Meyer to attempt the point after kick.

At the end of the first quarter, it was CS 14, CC 15.

Cedar Springs scored twice more in the second quarter, on a 10-yard run by QB Aiden Brunin and a 1-yard run by Alex Ream. Brunin ran in the 2 points after Ream’s TD.

Catholic Central scored again, when Passinault threw to Devin Fridley-bell for a 25-yard touchdown. The Red Hawks blocked Meyers point after kick.

The score at half was CS 28, CC 23.

Catholic Central held the Red Hawks at bay in the third and came back with three touchdowns. Passinault scored on both a one-yard run and a 67-yard run and threw a pass to Fridley-bell for a 7-yard touchdown. They scored 2-point conversions after two of the touchdowns.

Catholic Central runs with the ball. Photo by Brandon Kramer Photography.

After three quarters, it was CS 28, CC 41.

In the fourth quarter, Cedar Springs not only had to play catch up, they had to hold back Catholic Central. Cedar Springs drove down the field and scored on a two-yard run by Brunin with 8:26 left on the clock. Brunin’s pass to Josh Kriekaard for extra points was no good. It was now CS 34, CC 41.

Catholic Central started their next drive on their 20-yard line. They made it to the Cedar Springs 33-yard line, and on 4th down and 3, Passinault tried to run up the middle but was stopped by Antwuan Nicholls for no gain. Cedar Springs took over on their 33-yard line.

Cedar Springs drove down the field and made it the Catholic Central 3-yard line. Ryan Mitchell ran left for the 3-yard touchdown. It was now CS 40, CC 41, with 38 seconds on the clock. Cedar Springs called their third time out. They needed a two-point conversion to win the game, and a possible share of the conference title.

Brunin rolled out with the ball but couldn’t make it in to the endzone.

Cedar Springs kicked off, and tried an onside kick, but it was picked up at the 50 by Catholic Central. They made one play to lose two yards, and the game was over. Final score CS 40, Catholic Central 41.

“I’m proud of the way our guys battled all the way down to the final play on Friday night,” said Kapolka.   “We are obviously disappointed with our effort, but I am pleased with how we competed. The game came down to us making 2-3 critical plays at crucial times, and we just couldn’t make them.”

Cedar Springs racked up 327 yards on the ground. They were led by Aiden Brunin with 98 and 2 TDs, Ryan Mitchell with 72 and 2 TDs, Carter Falan with 57, Antwuan Nicholls with 52, Alex Ream with 39 and one TD, and Kyle Hoort with 9. Nicholls also had an 80-yard TD run on a kickoff return.

The Cedar Springs Red Hawk senior football players made their walk across the football field Friday night. From L to R: Jacob Rocafort (32); Carter Bayink (2); Landon Demorest (31); Jordan Victorson (67); Kyle Hoort (15); Alex Ream (20); Brennen Porter (58); Tate Ringelberg (50); Aiden Brunin (28); Cam Heiss (75); Alex Kramer (51); Logan Johnson (52); Blake Scheer (81). Photo by Brandon Kramer Photography.

Catholic Central had 170 yards rushing between three players: John Passinault had 104, Jack Rellinger had 53, and Ronin Russell Dixon had 13.

Passinault also threw for 256 yards, including three touchdowns.

Cedar Springs is now tied for second place in the OK Gold with South Christian High School. They will battle them this week at East Kentwood High School.

We asked Coach Kapolka what challenges that game will bring to the Red Hawks.

“South Christian will present similar problems to Grand Rapids Catholic Central. They are big and athletic, and they will try to spread us out and throw the ball,” he explained. “We have to fix some things defensively this week to be ready for their dynamic attack.” Make the trip Friday to East Kentwood High School to cheer on your Red Hawks! Game time is 7 p.m.

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Catholic Central claims victory in OK Gold showdown

Photo by J. Harnden
Aiden Brunin had 151 yards rushing against Catholic Central last Friday. 

By Judy Reed

Two of the toughest teams in the OK Gold went head to head last Friday evening: Catholic Central—the reigning Division 4 state champs, and Cedar Springs—conference champs in the OK White two years in a row. Both teams were 2-0 on the season. 

But another win for Cedar Springs just wasn’t in the cards Friday night. They took it on the chin 42-28, in spite of a rally in the second half that brought them within a touchdown of the Falcons.

“We obviously ran the ball extremely well and controlled time of possession, but we gave up too many big plays on defense and couldn’t get off the field on 3rd down,” explained Cedar Springs Coach Gus Kapolka. “I’m proud of the fight our kids showed in the second half, scoring on three consecutive drives and recovering an onside kick.”  

Catholic Central scored first at the 2:10 mark in the first quarter when Joey Silveri completed a pass to Danny Mikolay for a 21-yard touchdown. The kick by Jack Barlow was good for the extra point. 

At 9:56 in the second quarter, Silveri completed another pass, this time to Jace Williams for a 5-yard touchdown. The extra point kick was good.

With 7:16 left in the second, the Red Hawks scored when Alex Ream ran to the left and into the endzone for a 3-yard touchdown. Quarterback Jeremy Campione then ran the ball in for the two-point conversion. 

Just seconds later, Catholic Central came back and scored again with 6:59 left in the half on another pass from Silveri, this time to Nolan Zeigler, for a 49-yard touchdown. The extra point kick by Barlow was good. At the end of the half, the score was CC 21, CS 8.

Cedar Springs came out in the second half determined to make up for lost opportunities.

Catholic Central scored first, with 10:29 on the clock, on a one-yard run by Nick Hollern. The extra point kick was good.

Cedar Springs then scored with 5:01 left on the clock in the third when Aiden Brunin ran for an 18-yard touchdown. Alex Ream’s two-point conversion was good, making the score 28-16.

CC scored again when Silveri passed to Hollern for a 48-yard touchdown. The extra point kick was good, making the score 35-16.

Cedar Springs rallied and scored twice in the fourth quarter, for 12 more points. The first was on a run by Brunin for a 7-yard touchdown, and the second on a one-yard run by Campione. Extra points were no good. The score was now 35-28.

Catholic Central sealed the victory with 1:28 left in the game on a 28-yard run up the middle by Silveri. The extra point kick was good, making the final score CC 42, CS 28.

Photo by J. Harnden 
Catholic Central outscored Cedar Springs Friday night by a score of 42-28. 

Cedar Springs had 383 yards on the ground. Leading the charge was Aiden Brunin with 151; Antwuan Nicholls with 88; Alex Ream with 87; Jeremy Campione with 28; Nathan Elliston with 20; Kyle Hoort with 6; and Da’Montae Barnett with 3.

Catholic Central had 191 yards rushing. Joey Silveri had 110, and Nick Hollern had 81. Silveri also completed 7 out of 8 passes for 191 yards on the air.

Defensively, Cedar Springs had 21 tackles, and Catholic Central had 73.

Cedar Springs (2-1) hosts South Christian (3-0) this Friday for homecoming. What does Coach Kapolka think they need to do win that game?

“We need to repeat our success on the ground against South Christian and limit the big plays on defense,” he said. “Those are our goals this week.”

While fans can buy tickets to the freshman and JV games this week, none are being sold at the gate for the Varsity Friday night, as it would exceed the 1,000 person cap. Three tickets to the game are being made available to participants (football, cheer, band) and extras to students.t

For others to watch, you will need to stream the game at https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/cedar-springs-high-school-cedar-springs-mi/game2f253c198. According to a post by teacher Justin Harnden, their crew will be filming the game, not using the automated camera.

The cost for the streaming subscription to nfhsnetwork.com is $10.99 per month and less for a year’s subscription. A subscription allows you to watch games from all over the state of Michigan.

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Red Hawks lose against Cougars

Cedar Springs senior Cameron Umphrey scored the lone touchdown for the Red Hawks against Catholic Central, after grabbing a pass one-handed. Photos by K. Alvesteffer/R. LaLone

Cedar Springs senior Cameron Umphrey scored the lone touchdown for the Red Hawks against Catholic Central, after grabbing a pass one-handed. Photos by K. Alvesteffer/R. LaLone

Red Hawk defender Lane Gott bats away a pass intended for a Cougar receiver. Photos by K. Alvesteffer/R. LaLone.

Red Hawk defender Lane Gott bats away a pass intended for a Cougar receiver. Photos by K. Alvesteffer/R. LaLone.

by Lauren VanDenHout

Last Friday, September 18, the Cedar Springs Red Hawks faced off against the Catholic Central Cougars. In this match, the Hawks weren’t only battling the opposing team, they also found themselves pitted against the natural elements. The severe downpour that took place in the second half of the game was a major challenge the team had to overcome. Unfortunately, the Red Hawks fell to the Cougars 29-6.

Scoring the only touchdown for the game was senior Cameron Umphrey. In the second quarter, the halfback sprinted for a 33-yard touchdown, after he snatched the ball with only one hand on a pass.

Defensively, the Hawk’s line was impenetrable for two quarters. The boys denied the Cougars into their endzone during the first and third quarter. In the first quarter, senior Da’Marcus Barnett punted the ball to the 11-yard line, making it quite the challenge for the Cougars to return it for a touchdown. Powerful tackles made by seniors Barnett and Taylor VanDyke, and freshman Ryan Ringler were key in stopping Catholic Central on the offensive.

Mother nature decided to step in during the second half of the game. This drastic weather change made it difficult for either team to score. Catholic Central is considered to be more of a passing team, where as Cedar Springs takes more to running the ball for its offensive strategy. The rain worked out more in the favor of the Hawks since their sense of offensive style isn’t affected as much as Catholic Central’s. This factor enabled the Hawks to put more pressure on the Cougars to keep their lead.

In the last quarter, Cedar Springs quarterback Collin Alvesteffer reinjured his ankle. While attempting to advance the ball up the field, Alvesteffer appeared to have almost slipped in response to the heavy rain around him as he tried to avoid the Cougar’s defense.

The Cedar Springs Red Hawks now have a record of 2-2. Their next game is home at the Red Hawks Stadium, at 7:00 p.m. They will host the Wyoming Wolves, who have an overall record of 1-3.

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