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Categorized | Sports

Red Hawks end spectacular season at regional final

By Judy Reed

Photo by Justin Harnden.

The Cedar Springs Red Hawk football team of 2021 will be one for the record books and one fans will remember for a long time.

They went from tragedy early in the season—with the death of assistant coach Kevin Martens—to triumph—when they not only beat the Muskegon Big Reds but claimed the district title.

“This was the most resilient team I have ever coached,” said head coach Gus Kapolka. “They have had to deal with unimaginable tragedy and heartbreak, but it only served to bring us closer together. I couldn’t be prouder of this group of young men. I am honored to be their coach.”

Cedar Springs went on to face the DeWitt Panthers last Saturday at Grand Ledge for the regional championship. But unfortunately, they lost by a score of 42-14.

DeWitt scored three times in the first half—once in the first quarter and twice in the second quarter—while Cedar Springs failed to score until the third quarter, which is unusual for the Red Hawks. Both of the Red Hawk touchdowns were made by quarterback Aiden Brunin, one in the third and one in the fourth. He also made two extra-point kicks.

Cedar Springs was limited to 183 yards rushing. Brunin had 63, Antwuan Nicholls 53, Carter Falan 52, Kyle Hoort 11, Ryan West 9, and both Alex Ream and Ryan Mitchell had 2. Brunin also threw for 54 yards, with two passes to Ryan West for 23 yards, and one to Carter Falan for 31.

DeWitt racked up 285 yards rushing and 139 yards passing.

Photo by Justin Harnden.

“We could not match our energy and intensity from our game last week and we came out flat,” said Kapolka. “Dewitt was able to capitalize off some early turnovers and we never could dig ourselves out of that hole.”

“Beating Muskegon was a great accomplishment for our program, but it also serves as a reminder to our players and coaches that in order to win a state championship, you need to play at that level for the entirety of the playoffs,” noted Kapolka.

“As a coach, I feel humbled to be a part of a great victory over a storied opponent on their own field. Our kids and coaches have worked so hard to get over that hump the last few seasons, so it was very fulfilling to see it come to fruition.”

The Red Hawks had some great memories and triumphs this year. Some examples are playing on and finishing 9-3 in memory of Kevin Martens; Coach Kapolka getting his 100th win; Aiden Brunin kicking an 86 yard punt in the 3rd quarter of the Muskegon game that is the 2nd longest punt in MHSAA history, and the longest punt in a playoff game ever; losing to Catholic Central by one point; finally beating both South Christian and Muskegon for the first time ever; being ranked as having the best team offense in the OK Gold by media covering the OK Gold; being ranked 7 in the final division 3 AP poll.

What are some of Coach Kapolka’s favorite memories of the season?

“Obviously the atmosphere at the TED (Carlson Memorial Stadium) before and during the Rockford game was electric.  Playing in front of 8-10,000 people was an experience we’ll never forget. The Catholic Central game was one of the best games I’ve ever been a part of, even though the outcome was not what we had hoped for,” he said.

But Kapolka also touched on another facet of the Red Hawks’ success.

“I want to thank all the fans that have supported us this season. Cedar Springs is a town that is very proud about its football team, and we are proud to represent Red Flannel Town!”

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