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Tag Archive | "West Michigan Hawks"

West Michigan Hawks call it quits


Three-year-old Libby Walla led the team onto the field to start the last home game they played on July 23. They raised $933 to help in her fight against periventricular leukomalasia.

Three-year-old Libby Walla led the team onto the field to start the last home game they played on July 23. They raised $933 to help in her fight against periventricular leukomalasia.

By Shae Brophy

In a surprising announcement, West Michigan Hawks owner David Lange has confirmed that the team has ceased operations after losing several players. Due to this, the team did not play in their scheduled playoff game on August 13 against the Battle Creek Coyotes. Their playoff spot was filled by the Lima Warriors.

“This stems beyond the issues that the Hawks had,” said Lange. “This is an issue with semi pro football in general. There are a lot of issues at this level that I do not find acceptable. Some examples include owners allowing their players to drink on alcohol free grounds; (players/coaches) starting fights with no consequence; players fighting with other players, refs, coaches, owners etc. These are only a few things out of many that cross my mind or that have happened. It was my dream and passion to not only put on a great family event, but to help those in need in the process. It takes a collective effort from all teams involved to make these things happen, and I do not feel that we can successfully do that, as there are only a handful of semi pro teams who aspire to do the same.”

The Hawks had a two-year run in the Minor League Football Alliance, which saw them win the league’s “Organization of the Year” award in 2015, the team’s first year of existence. The team won their first four games of the 2016 season, before dropping their last four to close out the regular season.

Over the course of their two years, the team was able to raise funds and awareness for numerous causes, including Brison Ricker (16 year old battling a brain tumor; Libby Walla (3-year-old battling Charlie Finch (who passed away in an auto accident); and Alan Beamer (suf periventricular leukomalasia); Shae Brophy (brain tumor); Stephanie Cornwell (breast cancer); the family of fering from advanced Alzheimer’s Disease).

“I’d like to sincerely thank every single person who helped with the organization over the last two years,” said Lange. “Everyone from those who ran the concession stands at our home games, to those who ran the chains during the games. Josh Morris, who controlled the audio/music at home games; Shae Brophy, who announced our home games; Scott Fuller, who painted the field for us before each game; Friends of Skinner Field for allowing us to play at their facility; all of our sponsors; the Cedar Springs Fire Department and medical response team; all the players who stuck it out until the very end; and coaches Rashaad Powell and Michael Henderson. And, last but most definitely not least, the fans/community. Without the support of the fans and the community, none of what we accomplished would have been possible.”

Lange has a unique appreciation for the game of football, and plans to continue getting valuable experience in the realm of coaching. “I am all about progression,” he said. “I will continue to learn the game of football, and continue to coach at the youth level until another progression opportunity arises. When one door closes another opens. I aspire to inspire.”

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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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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!

FROM OWNER DAVID LANGE:

“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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Hawks suffer first loss this season


Brant Brooks manuevers his way through the Coyotes defense. Photo by Marcie Crouch.

Brant Brooks manuevers his way through the Coyotes defense. Photo by Marcie Crouch.

By Shae Brophy

The West Michigan Hawks traveled south for their game against the Battle Creek Coyotes on Saturday, June 9. The Hawks brought an undefeated 4-0 record into the game, while the Coyotes entered the game at 2-2.

West Michigan got off to a quick start, taking a 7-0 lead on an Eric Woodfork 47-yard touchdown run. That would be the only scoring of the half for the Hawks. Battle Creek scored the next 18 points to close out the first half, taking an 18-7 lead into the locker room.

After another Coyotes touchdown early in the second half, the Hawks turned up the pressure. Brant Brooks hauled in a pass from Charles Manny Hodges for a touchdown, making the score 24-14 in favor of the Coyotes. Donell Jones added another touchdown for the Hawks in the fourth quarter, closing the gap to 24-20, but that was as close as the Hawks would ultimately get.

With a chance to get the ball back in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, the Hawks made a costly mistake. Battle Creek punted the ball away with 2:30 to go, but after a miscue from the Hawks punt returner, the Coyotes were able to recover a fumble on the return and resume possession. Battle Creek scored another touchdown, opening the lead to 30-20, which held as the final score.

“I think we beat ourselves,” said Hawks head coach David Lange. “We were hit with adversity, and didn’t respond the way that we needed to.”

“Both teams played hard until the whistle”, said Coyotes head coach Robbie Hattan. “I thought it was a good game. David and I are close friends, so I hated to be their first loss because I want to see him succeed. I think we let a up bit after the half, and they almost pulled the comeback, but the ball fell our way. It was a good game all around.”

The Hawks will be back in action this Saturday, as they return to Skinner Field for the first time in July. They will host the reigning national champion Toledo Thunder, who will bring a matching 4-1 record into the contest. Doors open at 5pm, with kickoff scheduled for 6. Tickets are $7, with children 10 and under in free. We hope to see you there!

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West Michigan Hawks win big again 


S-West-Mich-hawks-vs-grizzlies

Improve to 4-0

By Shae Brophy

Saturday evening, the Hawks paid a visit to Vicksburg High School to square off with the Kalamazoo Grizzlies. After a 50-8 Hawks victory in the first matchup of the season, the Hawks took the field with plenty of confidence. Considering that the Grizzlies also guaranteed a victory this time around, the Hawks used the word “guarantee” as the mantra for this game.

After a bit of a sluggish start, the Hawks took a 3-0 lead on a 38-yard field goal by kicker Jacob Hardy. That score held until the end of the first quarter. Early in the second quarter, running back Eric Woodfork took a 15-yard run to the house for a touchdown, improving the score to 9-0. Wide receiver Monta Swanigan added to the lead later in the quarter with a 17-yard receiving touchdown, giving the Hawks a 15-0 lead at the half.

Quarterback Charles Manny Hodges rumbled his way into the end zone in the third quarter on a one-yard quarterback keeper, extending the lead to 21-0. The Grizzlies found the end zone for the only time of the evening on their next drive, returning an interception for a touchdown. After three quarters, the Hawks held a 21-6 lead.

The Hawks put the pedal to the medal in the fourth quarter. Swanigan pulled in his second touchdown of the game, a 22-yard pass, early in the quarter. Defensive end Rick Loper found the end zone after returning an interception the distance for a touchdown, and Swanigan scored his third touchdown of the game on the next Hawks possession. The Hawks’ defense also recorded a safety in the quarter. When all was said and done, the Hawks brought home a 45-6 victory.

Chaz Watford had an impressive day defensively, pulling in two interceptions, as well as breaking up another pass. In total, the Hawks forced seven turnovers (two interceptions for Watford, Loper interception, Court McSwain interception, Darnell Madison interception, Javon Welch interception, Nick Steimel interception), while they also had six turnovers of their own.

It was just another day at the office for Swanigan, who ripped off his second consecutive game with three receiving touchdowns.

Although West Michigan won big on the scoreboard, the Hawks were penalized for a total of 150 yards, including six personal foul penalties.

“We played a solid game,” said head coach David Lange. “We got off to a slow start, which has become somewhat of a trend, and is something that we need to work on. We also need to work on our consistency, but in the end, it’s hard to be too upset about a 45-6 victory.”

With the victory, the Hawks are now the only undefeated team remaining in the Minor Leauge Football Alliance’s “Big Eight” division.

The Hawks will enjoy the holiday weekend with a bye week, and will be in action again on July 9, when they make the trip to Battle Creek for a tilt with the Coyotes.

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Meet the Hawks: Ryan Williams


 

Ryan Williams

Ryan Williams

By Shae Brophy

Meet West Michigan Hawks safety/kick returner Ryan Williams. Originally from Muskegon, Michigan, Williams graduated from Muskegon High School in 2012. This is his fourth season playing in the semi-pro football ranks.

One of his biggest role models is Martin Luther King Jr. “I look up to historical figures who did more than just talk,” said Williams. When he isn’t on the field for the Hawks, Williams enjoys playing basketball and flag football.

“Ryan is an incredible safety,” said head coach/owner David Lange. “He is a huge asset for the defense, and a big contributor towards the overall success of our defense. His explosive speed is tackle breaking ability is a big reason as to why he has success returning punts and kickoffs.”

Like a lot of his teammates, Williams heard big things about the Hawks and was hopeful to be a part of the team. “I heard about the team and the things they do, and wanted to give it a try. I liked what I saw,” he said. “I also love that Coach Lange wants everyone to get involved with the community. It’s a good feeling to know that we have created a fan base for the team, as well.”

Williams and the Hawks will enjoy a bye week over the holiday weekend, and will be back in action on July 9th when they travel to face the Battle Creek Coyotes.

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Meet the Hawks: Nick Steimel


West Michigan Hawk Nick Steimel and his girlfriend, Brittney McCarthy.

West Michigan Hawk Nick Steimel and his girlfriend, Brittney McCarthy.

By Shae Brophy

Meet West Michigan Hawks defensive end/tight end Nick Steimel. Originally from Grand Rapids, Steimel moved to Cedar Springs during second grade, graduating from Cedar Springs High School in 2007. He has played football since his youth, and has also coached one year of rocket football. While in school, he also played baseball and was on the bowling team, and also played AYBT basketball during the summer.

Nick’s biggest role model is his father, Walter Steimel. “He’s the most hard-working person i know,” Nick said. “He’s the one that has shown me with dedication and hard work you can accomplish anything in life. Growing up he made sure i had all the right tools to succeed whether it was bringing me to practice, or in my later years helping me pay for college. I can’t express how grateful I am to have him as a father.”

When not on the football field, Steimel enjoys disc golf, recreational basketball and softball, and spending time with friends and family.

“What makes me want to be part of the West Michigan Hawks is the positive influence and impact the team strives to have on people,” he said. “You won’t see that out of other semi-pro teams. The fact that I can be part of a team that can help a person in need while doing what I love is truly a blessing. The people we dedicate games to are people that are part of the community I grew up in, which makes this team that much more special to me.”

“Nick has amazing work ethic,” said head coach/owner David Lange. “His motor never stops going, and he is a great teammate. He’s the kind of guy that any coach would be glad to have on their team.”

Steimel and the Hawks will be on the road again this weekend, as they travel to Kalamazoo for a matchup with the Grizzlies. As always, you are encouraged to make the trip with the team and cheer them on in enemy territory!

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Hawks improve to 3-0 with blowout win over West Michigan Bulls


West Michigan Hawks

West Michigan Hawks

By Shae Brophy

On the heels of the biggest win in franchise history, the West Michigan Hawks hit the road for their first game away from Skinner Field this season. The 1 p.m. start also marked the team’s first afternoon game of the season.

The Hawks would not allow either of those things stop them from showcasing a dominating performance on the field, as they came home with a 56-8 victory. Wide receiver Monta Swanigan had three receiving touchdowns on the day, while Robert Bell had two (one receiving, one fumble return) of his own. Dontae Ensley, also brought in a receiving touchdown, and Jeremiah Cochran took one to the house on a run. Cornerback Omar Haynes also found the end zone, taking an interception all the way back for the score. Quarterback Charles Manny Hodges threw for all five of the touchdowns that the team scored through the air.

“It was a great day to deal with adversity. Not the bad, but the good adversity,” said Bell. “We were tested in the first half and played comfortably, but the moment the second half started, we were able to take away from what we did a week ago and add to our great performance as a team.”

The Bulls found the end zone for the only time during the second quarter.

Although the Hawks only took a 14-8 lead into the locker room at halftime, the team knew that they were better than the performance they exhibited in the first half.

“We just had to execute better,” said head coach David Lange. “After a big win last week, I think we may have been guilty of not playing to our full potential in the first half this week, which is something that was addressed during halftime. As you can see by the final score, we turned it on in the second half, and brought home a really big win.”

Next up for the Hawks is another road game. The team will travel to take on the Kalamazoo Grizzlies on Saturday. We would like to see you travel with the team for another big matchup! For details on where the game will be played, be sure to follow the West Michigan Hawks on Facebook!

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Meet the Hawks: Jeremy Schreiber


Meet

West Michigan Hawks lineman Jeremy Schreiber

West Michigan Hawks lineman Jeremy Schreiber

. A 2008 graduate from Cedar Springs High School, Schreiber has played football since he was eight years old. He also threw shot put and discus on the track and field team from seventh grade until graduation, and coached rocket football all throughout high school.

Jeremy’s biggest role models are his mother Wendy Schreiber, and his uncle Travis Nichols. “My mom taught me to how to persevere when things aren’t going your way, and to make the best of what you have,” he said. “As for my uncle, he’s always been there for me, whether it was being in the chain gang of my first football game, or helping me catch my first fish.”

When he isn’t on the gridiron, Jeremy enjoys shooting, working on cars, and spending time with his kids.

“I had heard about the Hawks, but I didn’t really consider playing for the team until Coach Lange contacted me and asked me to come out to a practice,” said Schreiber. “After I got to see what the organization is all about, and the work I saw from the guys on the team, I figured it would be great to lace up the cleats and play again for my home town team.”

Head coach David Lange enjoys Jeremy’s work ethic, amongst many other things. “Jeremy is a very hard working football player. He is smart and consistent, especially with his play recognition. He is a very solid lineman who does very well fighting in the trenches.”

The Hawks will hit the road for the first time this season on Saturday, as they travel to Kalamazoo to take on the West Michigan Bulls. As always, you’re welcome to make the trip with the team!

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