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Red Hawks rule the Knights

Coach Kevin Martens

By Judy Reed

Cedar Springs football was fresh off a record-setting win over Ottawa Hills (70-36) and preparing for last Friday’s game against Kenowa Hills when they were blindsided by a tragic event—the death of longtime assistant football coach and middle school teacher Kevin Martens. 

Martens, 46, of Sparta, passed away of an unknown heart condition on Thursday, September 16, 2021 at his home in Sparta.

Martens had been a teacher at Cedar Springs Middle School since 1999. He coached middle school track and was a Cedar Springs High School assistant football coach for over 20 years. 

“Kevin was the first coach I hired when I became the head coach 9 years ago,” said Cedar Springs Head Coach Gus Kapolka. “His passion for young people and helping them succeed was obvious the first time I met him.”

Ryan West runs with the ball.

Martens made a big impact on both Kapolka and the athletes. “I will miss Kevin’s calming, positive personality that was a foundational rock of our football program,” said Kapolka. “We will all miss Kevin’s ability to make strong, deep, personal connections with children from different backgrounds. Kevin served as a great role model to our boys as to what constitutes being a ‘good man.’”

How is the team dealing with the loss of their coach?

Quarterback Aiden Brunin with the ball.

“The grieving process is different for everybody, so we are trying to give our guys as much support as we can, while at the same time, giving them the time and space they need to work through this. Our CSPS Mental Health Crisis Team has done a great job providing support to all of our players through this difficult time,” he explained.

The Red Hawks were pumped up to win the game Friday, in spite of the loss. They took the field like they were on fire. They scored five times, racked up over 400 yards total, and limited Kenowa Hills to only 48 yards in the 38-0 win.

Antwuan Nicholls with the ball

“I couldn’t be prouder of how our guys were able to focus and come out and dominate Kenowa Hills on Friday.  It is a credit to them and to the culture of our program that we were able to perform at such a high level,” remarked Coach Kapolka.

Leading rushers for Cedar Springs were Antwuan Nicholls (133); Carter Falan (92); Ryan Mitchell (66); Aiden Brunin (29); Ryan West (17); Kyle Hoort and Alex Ream both had 9; Nolan Myers had 4; and Nate Slager had 1. Brunin also completed two passes, a 20-yard pass to Carter Falan, and a 21-yard pass to Ryan West.

Heading into the fifth week, Cedar Springs is now tied with Catholic Caentral for first place in the OK-Gold conference. The Red Hawks are 2-0 in conference, and 3-1 overall. 

This week’s game will be at home against Forest Hills Eastern. It could be an emotional one without Mr. Martens there on the sideline.

“Friday will be the first home game since Kevin’s passing,” said Kapolka. “It will be difficult, but we will get through it together. The outpouring of support from the Cedar Springs community has been amazing. I’m sure we will have great support Friday night and that will make things a little bit easier.”

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Volleyball loses to Kenowa Hills, Zeeland East quad

The Red Hawks Varsity volleyball team lost 1-3 (14-25; 25-21;16-25; 19-25) at Kenowa Hills on Tuesday, Sept.14 bringing their conference record to 1-1 and overall record to 5-5. Junior Varsity and Freshman teams lost in two sets to the Knights on the night also.  Varsity Volleyball also traveled to Zeeland East on Saturday, September 18th for a tough quad competition, displaying focus and method with host team Zeeland East, Northpointe Christian and Jenison in a day of resolute competition.  Varsity went 0-3 on the day losing each match in narrow and relentless battles. The opening match to Zeeland East ended 25-27 and 14-25, followed by a Northpointe Christian 23-25; 23-25 loss, and ending with Jenison 18-25 and 25-27.     

Volleyball was back in conference action at Thornapple Kellogg (Middleville) on Tuesday, September 21,  and is at home Thursday, September 23 against Wayland.  JV and Freshman start at 5pm followed by Varsity.

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Cedar Springs football chalks up record win over Ottawa Hills

Red Hawk quarterback Aiden Brunin finds a hole.

It was a great night of football last Friday for the Cedar Springs Red Hawks, who set a new school record during their opening game of conference play against Ottawa Hills.

The Red Hawks beat Ottawa Hills 70-35, setting a new school record for most points scored in a game. That broke the old record of 64 points—first set in 1955 in a non-conference game against Howard City (64-0), and then again in 2019 against Ottawa Hills (64-6).

“I’m proud that our guys executed so well on offense and scored more points than have ever been scored in the history of Cedar Springs High School,” said Cedar Springs Coach Gus Kapolka.

“Our Offensive line played great with their technique and effort, as well as our running backs executing the plays.”

Red Hawk Antwuan Nicholls runs with the ball. 

That was certainly the case, as the Red Hawks scored nine times, including a 45-yard touchdown run by Antwuan Nicholls, and a kickoff that Aiden Brunin returned from the Cedar Springs 5 yard-line all the way to the Ottawa Hill endzone. Touchdown runs were also scored by Carter Falan (2); Ryan Mitchell (2); Carter Bayink; Logan Troupe; and another by Nicholls.

Ottawa Hills scored five times on the Red Hawks and had their share of scoring plays that racked up yardage. Quarterback Scharal Horton threw to Kamarion Beal for a 54-yard touchdown and a 65-yard touchdown, both in the second quarter; another pass to Anthony Gordon for an 11-yard touchdown; a 61-yard TD pass to James Mcclenton; and then Keymarion Gibson ran 58 yards for their final touchdown with 49 seconds left in the game. 

“Our defense does need to improve in our pass defense and we are working hard this week in practice in order to shore up that part of our game,” said Kapolka.

Cedar Springs had 533 yards rushing. They were led by Nicholls with 167; Falan 68; Brunin 59; Nolon Myers (42); Mitchell (39); Ryan West (38); Kyle Hoort (27); Alex Ream (26); Bayink (14); and three others had 8 or less yards. Cedar Springs had no passing yardage.

Ottawa Hills had 174 yards rushing, led by Gibson, with 145, and Horton with 21. Horton completed six of 12 passes, for 230 yards, with 119 yards to Beal; 61 to Mcclenton; 45 to Gibson; 11 to Gordon; and 9 to Tyrell Cross.

Alex Ream led Cedar Springs in tackles with 9; followed by Brunin with 6; Kyle Hoort with 5; Brennen Porter with 4; and the rest of the team had 3 or less.

Mcclenton led Ottawa Hill with 11 tackles; Jerimiah Maeweather and Tyrell Cross both had 5; Chris Grady and Willie Duke and 4; and the rest of the team had 2 or less.

This Friday, the Cedar Springs Red Hawks will travel to Kenowa Hills to take on the Knights. Both teams have a record of 2-1 on the season and are 1-0 in conference. Kenowa Hills defeated Wayland last week 27-19, in their first week of conference play.

Current standings in the OK Gold:

Team       Conference Overall

Catholic Central 1-0 3-0

Cedar Springs 1-0 2-1

South Christian 1-0 2-1

Kenowa Hills 1-0 2-1

Forest Hills Eastern 0-1 1-2

Ottawa Hills 0-1 1-2

Thornapple-Kellogg 0-1 0-3

Wayland 0-1 0-3

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Cedar Springs volleyball sweeps Ottawa Hills

Senior setter, Makenna Outwin (#1) puts up a set for the offense.
Libero Josie Kenyon (red jersey) and outside hitter Courtney Page ready on serve receive

The Red Hawk Volleyball program commenced conference play on Thursday, September 9, and each team recorded victories over Ottawa Hills in front of an enthusiastic and supportive home crowd. Freshmen and Junior Varsity opened the evening with Freshmen winning in 2 sets (25-15 ;25-14) while JV won in a tight three set match (25-20; 14-25; 15-13). The Varsity team concluded the night with a solid 3-0 victory (25-11; 25-14; 25-20), improving their overall record to 5-4 and conference record to 1-0.
Leading the Varsity Lady Red Hawks on the night were Middle Blocker Alyssa Detweiller with 4 kills, 2 blocks, 5 aces and 14 service points. Setter Makenna Outwin tallied 3 kills, 8 assists, 4 digs, 8 aces and 13 service points. Aaliyah Calkins contributed 2 kills, 2 digs and 6 aces, Courtney Page added 2 kills, 1 block and 9 serve receptions while Aspen Haywood recorded 3 aces, 7 service points and 2 digs. Libero Josie Kenyon led the defense with 4 digs and 9 serve receptions

Courtney Page (#10) goes up for an attack with teammates Aaliyah Calkins (#3), Alyssa Detweiller (#8) and Makenna Outwin (#1) cover.

“We are proud of the way the girls came out strong to open conference play,” said Head Coach Ashley Lowing. “We look forward to building off this win as we enter the heart of conference play this week.” 

Volleyball continues Conference competitions when they travel to Kenowa Hills on Tuesday, September 14 and then host Forest Hills Eastern on Thursday, September 16.  Freshmen and JV begin at 5pm, followed by Varsity at 6th pm both nights. Varsity then travels to Zeeland East on Saturday, September 18 for tournament competition beginning at 9am.

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Boys Cross Country makes conference statement

During September 8th’s OK Gold Jamboree on the grounds of Cedar View elementary, it became clear that no boys team will be walking away easily with the conference title. The Cedar Springs Red Hawks put themselves in the conversation by placing second.

The team was led again by junior Espen Wood, placing 11th overall with a time of 17:49. Senior Carter Moleski followed three spots behind in 17:55. Gabe White and Gabe Minnich placed 16th and 17th respectively, while sophomore Jack Sherburn stepped up to run personal best of 18:26.

South Christian won the boys team race with a total of 70 points. Cedar Springs followed ten points behind, while Forest Hills Eastern and Catholic Central trailed with 88 and 92 points each. Two more jamborees this season will factor into the final point system that decides the conference team champions and all-conference honorees. 

Runners Collect Hardware at Hornet Run

Each level of the Cedar Springs boys cross country was given a chance to shine at the Central Montcalm Hornet Run on September 11. 

Unlike most meet formats, the Hornet Run divides races by grade level. Freshmen race against freshmen, and seniors race against seniors. It’s a unique opportunity that head coach Justin Jones believes is important for underclassman, as they get the chance to contend for higher finish places and earn medals. 

The Red Hawk seniors kicked off the morning. Gabe White and Carter Moleski turned in 4th and 5th place finishes respectively, with Gabe Minnich and Cayden Steinebach in the top 10 as well. Alex Cole rounded out the seniors with a time of 20:14.

Espen Wood and Jonathan Reed were the lone juniors for the Hawks, but still showed their competitive drive. Wood ran an aggressive race for third overall, continuing his impressive streak thus far. Reed, who has been dealing with a lingering injury, proved the team’s emphasis on resilience.

A sophomore slump was nowhere to be seen on the Hawks, as Jack Sherburn put together another strong race to lead their class in 18:53. Eli Kleynenberg ran his best race of the season thus far for 19:29, while Zach Reed followed closely in 19:48. Newcomer Brady Morrow also turned in a medal-earning performance. 

Last but not least, freshmen Quinton Bell and Jayden Ulberg proved their potential, placing in the top 10 of their race. 

The Hawks will now turn focus towards Friday, September 17, as they’ll be sending split squads to the MSU Spartan Invitational and Sparta Invitational. 

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Red Hawks lose to Rams 35-6

CS Red Hawk Aiden Brunin gets tackled by Rockford. 

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Red Hawks varsity football team traveled to Rockford last Thursday night, Sept. 2, to take on the Rams for the first time since 1981. It was a learning experience for the Red Hawks, who have been known in recent years to take on teams bigger than themselves.

Some fans question why they would want to do that.

“We wanted to play this game because it’s a non-conference game that will have no effect on our goal to win the OK Gold,” said Red Hawk Coach Gus Kapolka. “By playing a team like Rockford, we now know where we need to improve, and it shows our players how hard they have to compete in order to play at an elite level.”

Rockford scored on the second play of the game, when Zak Ahern ran up the middle for a 22-yard touchdown 11:34 left in the first quarter. The extra point kick by Jason Burkholder was good. 

They then scored twice more in the first, on Ahern’s pass to Tyler Vroman for a 54-yard touchdown, and then on a pass to Leo Vanderwiel for a 12-yard touchdown. The score at the end of the first quarter was Rockford 21, Cedar Springs 0.

Rockford runs with the ball. 

The Red Hawks hit the scoreboard right at the end of the second quarter, while keeping the Rams offense at bay. With 37 seconds left in the half, Antwuan Nicholls ran up the middle for a 7-yard touchdown. Score at the half was 21-6.

Rockford scored twice more in the third quarter, on a three-yard run by Gabe Spees, and four-yard run by Ahern. 

Neither team scored in the fourth quarter, making the final score 35-6.

The Cedar Springs offense got a total of 135 yards rushing, on 42 attempts, and 10 yards on a pass.

Rockford got 152 yards on the ground on 28 attempts, and 168 yards in the air, including two touchdowns.

“Even though the score didn’t indicate it, I thought our defense did a good job against their offense after the first 8 minutes,” remarked Kapolka.

What could they have done better? “We did not control the line of scrimmage on offense and that, along with Rockford’s explosive plays, were the difference in the game,” he explained.

What did Kapolka think his team learned from the game? “We learned what it takes to compete at an elite level against a superior opponent,” he said. “Rockford has elite level talent on both sides of the ball, they executed well and made big plays early that put us in a hole we couldn’t get out of.”

This Friday the Red Hawks start conference play by hosting Ottawa Hills at Red Hawk Stadium. Game time is at 7 p.m. Come on out and cheer on your Red Hawks!

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Volleyball splits with Tri County and Big Rapids

Red Hawk Varsity Volleyball concluded their home opener triangular on Tuesday, August 31st with a split between Tri County and Big Rapids High Schools. The Lady Red Hawks opened the night with a tight loss to Tri County (23-25; 25-21; 12-15) before dominating Big Rapids 2-0 (25-16;25-16), bringing their overall record of 4-4. 

Stat leaders include senior outside hitter Kennedi Jager who topped the offense with 11 kills, while adding 2 blocks, 6 digs, 4 aces and 14 serve receptions. Setter Makenna Outwin had 20 assists, 6 kills, and 4 aces while Alyssa Detweiler recorded a team high 13 service points and blocks (4) plus 5 kills.  Aaliyah Calkins tallied 3 blocks and 4 kills. Libero Brandy Singleton drove the defense with 13 digs and 29 serve receptions and Melissa Goslin recorded 2 kills, 4 aces and a block.

The Junior Varsity traveled to Tri County on Tuesday, August 31, registering a sound win over the host Vikings 25-10; 25-20; 25-12. 

Volleyball opens conference play on Thursday, September 9, when they host Ottawa Hills. Freshman and JV begin at 5 p.m. followed by Varsity.

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Sportsmen for Youth – Youth Day

Sportsmen for Youth – Youth Day, which is always held on the first Saturday after Labor Day, is September 11, 2021 this year. Youth Day is held at Muskegon County Fairgrounds, 2261 Heights Ravenna Road, Fruitport, Michigan. This will be our 28th year. The gates open at 9am and close at 3 p.m.  This is a free family friendly event to introduce our youth to the many activities available to them in the great outdoors, however only youth under 17 years of age can participate in the activities. Persons over 17 are welcome to sit in on all the seminars. Each youth participating will receive a t-shirt and a ticket for lunch (while supplies last) and a raffle ticket.  

This year we have received commitments from approximately 60 exhibitors including the following: a rock climbing wall; the Coast Guard Axillary and a vessel from Coast Guard Station, Muskegon; the Critter Barn; Muskegon Conservation Club; Grand Haven Steelheaders, with their fishing simulator; Friends of Ottawa County Parks; Jumpn’ Jupiter Skate Center; Coopersville Sportsman’s Club; Michigan United Conservation Club; a reptile and a birds of prey display; and the West Michigan Walleye Club, to name a few. 

Once again there will be the trout pond, put on by Michigan Anglers Assoc., with 1000 trout to be caught. The Hawg Trough, a 50-foot-long aquarium mounted on a semi-trailer, will be here again this year and will be stocked with native fish for viewing. It is also used as the stage for seminars with Mark Martin and some of his fishing staff. There will also be mentored shooting of firearms, however you need to present a Hunter Safety Certificate in order to shoot.   Attendees will also be able to experience various safety exhibits, demonstrations and tours of fire trucks, EMT vehicles and law enforcement displays. There will also be a 9/11 tribute at noon.  More information on this Youth Day can be found at www.sportsmenforyouth.com and our Facebook page. 

Please plan to spend Sportsmen for Youth – Youth Day with us on September 11, 2021.  I’m sure you will have a great time.

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Cedar Springs soars past Saginaw Swan Valley 48-16

Thursday they will take on Rockford at Rockford

By Judy Reed

Cedar Springs Red Hawk Antwuan Nicholls runs with the ball. 

The Cedar Springs Varsity Red Hawks football team owned the field at Red Hawk Stadium last Thursday, against Saginaw Swan Valley, for the opening game of the 2021 season. 

“I felt our guys came out ready to play and started fast,” said Cedar Springs Coach Gus Kapolka. “I’m proud of how we prepared and how we executed.”

The first scoring drive started on the Cedar Springs 17, with 6:33 left in the first quarter. Quarterback Aiden Brunin, Alex Ream and Ryan West all moved the ball 42 yards before Antwuan Nichols ran it the rest of the way in to score a 41-yard touchdown with 4:56 left in the first. A pass into the endzone from Brunin to Ream added two more points, making the score 8-0.

Cedar Springs quarterback Aiden Brunin racked up over 130 yards rushing in last week’s game against Saginaw Swan Valley. 

The Red Hawks scored again on their next possession, when Brunin had an awesome 74-yard run into the endzone with 2:21 left on the clock in the first. The extra points attempt was no good. The score was  now 14-0.

CS kicked off, and Swan Valley ran two plays, and on the third play, the ball was intercepted by Red Hawk Carter Bayink at the Swan Valley 45 and returned it 20 yards. This set up the next scoring driving, when Alex Ream ran the ball in for a 6-yard touchdown, with 10:28 left in the second quarter. The extra points attempt was no good.

Lightning from an impending storm then delayed the game for two hours. It was 9:48 p.m. when it restarted, with 10:28 left in the half. “I really don’t feel that the lightning delay affected us very much. I thought our guys handled themselves very well and stayed focused,” said Kapolka.

The Red Hawks scored their next touchdown with 1:10 left in the quarter, on a 69-yard run by Antwuan Nicholls. Brunin’s pass into the endzone to Kyle Hoort was good for two more points. 

Nicholls scored again in the third quarter, on a 13-yard run, with 5:52 left. Ryan West’s run into the endzone was good for two more points.

West scored his own touchdown with just 47 seconds left in the third quarter, on a 5-yard run. An extra point run was no good.

Swan Valley finally got on the board in the fourth quarter, when Brandon Brandt ran in a 4-yard touchdown with 8:42 to go. A Colton Klein pass to Sam Wickham was good for extra points.

Cedar Springs hit the scoreboard again just two minutes later when Carter Falan ran in a 30-yard touchdown. An extra points run was no good.

The final score of the night came with 35 seconds left in the game, when Swan Valley’s Matthew Stark ran for a 10-yard touchdown. Tyler Drain’s run for extra points was good.

The final score was Cedar Springs 48, Swan Valley 16.

While Kapolka was pleased with the game, he said that the team still needs to improve and cut down on their penalties. The team had five, and Swan Valley had four.

Cedar Springs had 406 yards on the ground. Leading rushers were Brunin (132), Nicholls (128), Falan (45), Ream (31), West (24), Ryan Mitchell (19), Hoort (18), and Bayink (9).

Swan Valley had 170 yards rushing. Stark led with 104, Cody Ueberroth had 37, and Brandt had 31.

Alex Ream led in tackles for the Red Hawks with 11. Rest of the team had 5 and under. Drew Kaeckmeister led in tackles for Saginaw Valley with 5.

The Cedar Springs defense also picked off two passes, with both Carter Bayink and Ryan West each snagging one.

The Red Hawks have an exciting opportunity to play the Rockford Rams this Thursday, September 2, at Rockford. It will be the first time since 1981 that Cedar Springs and Rockford have met on the gridiron. The Red Hawks and the Rams used to meet regularly when they were both part of the Tri River Conference in the 1960s, then Rockford left the conference. Cedar Springs picked up a few non-conference games with them in the late 1970s, early 80s, but then never played them again.

Last season, Rockford, a member of the OK-Red, lost in the state semifinals to Davison.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to play a program as storied as Rockford,” said Kapolka. “We want to measure ourselves against the best and Rockford will be a big test for us.”

Game time is 7 p.m. You can buy your tickets online at http://ow.ly/SpFx50G0PA3 or purchase them at the gate. See you there!

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Boys Cross Country braves the heat, places second

Despite a hot and humid day in Remus, the boys cross country team battled to a second place team finish at the Warrior Early Season Invitational hosted by Chippewa Hills High School. The meet on August 24 was the first of the 2021 season for the Red Hawks, as well as their first donning brand new uniforms.

Leading the charge was junior Espen Wood, crossing the 5k finish line in 18:32 and 13th place overall. Senior Carter Moleski followed three spots behind Wood, finishing in 18:37. Gabe White and Eli Malon each turned in top-30 finishes as well, running 19:05 and 19:16 respectively. Rounding out the scoring for the Hawks was senior Gabe Minnich in 19:22.

After graduating standout Corey Bowers, the boys look to find success in depth, and head coach Justin Jones believes their effort was a step in the right direction. “This was probably one of the more promising starts to a season that I have been a part of,” he said. “It’s fun to watch the young men on this year’s team fill the holes that were left by our recent graduates. This group has tremendous potential to be one of the deepest teams in the area.”

Jones also tabbed Woods’ run as a highlight of the meet. The senior has been working diligently since joining the program.

“Watching him show out as the top Cedar Springs boy and lead this team at our first meet was a great moment,” Jones said. “This has been a long time coming for one of our hardest workers.”

The Red Hawks will now shift focus to the first OK Gold Jamboree, and home meet, of the season on September 8.

Three jamborees throughout the season help determine a point system for team champions and all-conference selections. Races will be run on the course at Cedar View Elementary.

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