The West Michigan Hawks didn’t let the rain dampen their spirits on Saturday evening, April 29. Although the playing conditions weren’t ideal, the Hawks put together a complete effort in their 46-0 victory over the Highland Park Polar Bears at Skinner Field.
Acclimating to the weather was a bit of a challenge, as the team got off to a bit of a slow start offensively. But it was the defense that set the tone. The Hawks forced a safety midway through the first quarter to start the scoring, taking a 2-0 lead. Wide receiver Monte Swanigan hauled in a 60-yard pass from quarterback Charles Hodges on the next drive, and the two point conversion attempt was good, giving the Hawks a 10-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Things really came together for the Hawks in the second quarter. Hodges scored on a two-yard quarterback keeper, running back Brant Brooks scored on a run, and cornerback Omar Haynes returned an interception 63 yards for a touchdown in the quarter. The Hawks took a 32-0 lead into the locker rooms at the half.
The second half was played on a running clock, but that didn’t stop the Hawks from continuing what they started. Ryan Williams returned a punt for a touchdown during the middle portion of the quarter, and the Hawks led 40-0 after three quarters. Brooks scored his second touchdown on the last play of the game, making the final score 46-0.
“It was inspiring to see all of the new elements of the team come together with such enthusiasm,” said lineman Neil Gillett. “We have a lot of new guys on the team this year. The ability for us to come together and play so cohesively in such a short amount of time really speaks for the selfless quality and team focus of our men.”
Safety Robert Bell was also quite satisfied with the team’s effort. “This was a great first test for our team. We mentioned throughout the practice weeks about answering the call when adversity dials the number. We opened our arms to our brother Brant Brooks, who prior to the game lost his brother. This game allowed our team to solidify our brotherhood and turn life’s negatives into a community of positivity. It was also great to see Alan Beamer and his family accept the #12 jersey in his recognition of his battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Life is bigger than self. Welcome to the West Michigan Hawks!”
Head coach David Lange was ecstatic after the game. “I’m very proud of our guys and what they have accomplished. We still have work to do, some corrections we need to make, but we did an outstanding job. We had our fun with this win, but now its time to move forward and focus on the next game on May 14th against the Lake Michigan Havoc.”
The game on May 14 will be played at Skinner Field, and is a benefit for Cedar Springs resident Brison Ricker, who is fighting a brain tumor. Doors will open at 5 p.m., with kickoff scheduled for 6. Tickets are $6 a piece, with children 10 and under free, and proceeds will go to Ricker’s cause. We hope to see you there!