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Cedar Springs falls to South Christian

Cedar Springs quarterback Ryan West hands off the ball. Photo by Nancy Scheer.

By Judy Reed

Going into last Friday night’s football game, the Cedar Springs Red Hawks knew it would be tough. Out of the many times they faced the South Christian Sailors, they had only beaten them once—and that was last season. 

But it was not to be this year.

On the second play of the game at Red Hawk Stadium, Red Hawk Josh Kriekaard sacked Sailor quarterback Jacob DeHaan for a 5 yard loss, making it 3rd down and 11. But that didn’t deter the Sailors. DeHaan came right back and threw a 76-yard touchdown pass to his younger brother, Charlie DeHaan, and Nate Brink kicked their extra point. The score was now 7-0, only a minute into the game.

South Christian went on to score twice more in the second quarter—on a 3-yard pass from DeHaan to Seth Ritsema, with Brinks’ extra point kick good; and on a run by Brinks and another kick. 

Cedar Springs scored with 44 seconds left in the second quarter on one-yard run by quarterback Ryan West. The two-point run was no good.

South Christian scored one last time with 4:32 left in the third quarter, on a 6-yard run by Brinks. He then kicked the extra point. 

Cedar Springs did not score again, and the final was score South Christian 28, Cedar Springs 6. 

We asked Coach Gus Kapolka what did he think his team did well and what do they need to work on?

“We didn’t execute well enough on offense to beat a team as good as South.  We have to continue to improve and work on the little things. I thought we were able to put a couple of good drives together after going down 20-0, but it wasn’t enough to overcome that deficit,” he said.

Cedar Springs had 216 yards rushing. Carter Falan led the way with 84; Rory Schoenborn 65; Ryan West 32; Ryan Mitchell 15; Kevin Vanderhaag 10; Nate Slager 9; and Marek Olenak 1. They also had 21 yards in the air on a pass from Schoenborn to West.

South Christian had 199 yards rushing, led by Brinks with 103; Jacob DeHaan with 71; and Charlie Schreur with 25. They also had 115 in the air, led by Charlie DeHaan with 76; Brinks with 7; Carson Vis with 4; and Ritsema with 3.

Cedar Springs had 45 tackles, with 20 assists. Cashius Heiss led with 9; Nate Slager had 8; Connor Diemond had 6; Marek Olenak and Josh Kriekaard both had 4. The rest of the team had 3 or less.

South Christian had 64 tackles and 2 assists. Leading was Cayden Dykema and Cam Post, each with 12; Ben Mulder with 8; Seth Ritsema 6; Jake Cashen 5; Grabriel Kisner 4; and the rest of the team 3 or less.

The Red Hawks are now 0-4, after losing to some of the best teams in Michigan. This Friday, Cedar Springs travels to Ottawa Hills. What challenges will they face from the Bengals?

“Ottawa scored 35 points against us last year and they return a dynamic running back that we will have to work very hard to slow down,” explained Kapolka. 

Come on out and cheer on your Red Hawks this Friday, at 7 p.m. at 2055 Rosewood Ave SE, Grand Rapids.

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Red Hawk Harriers excel at the Ottawa Hills Invite

From L to R: Espen Wood, Ethan Shoffner and Larissa McGrath accept their medals at the Ottawa Hills Invite.  
Photo Credit: Justin Jones.

The Boys Cross Country team traveled to Riverside Park this past week to compete in the Ottawa Hills Invitational. The team faced temperatures in the mid 80’s, along with 18 other schools in the early afternoon session. The Red Hawks found their stride once again and raced to a 5th place finish in the team standings. 

Cedar Springs was led by returning All-Conference runner, Senior Espen Wood.  Espen covered the 5 kilometer (3.1 miles) course in a new personal record (PR) time of 16:32, earning runner up honors in the field of 152 entrants. 

“I was proud of the effort and grit that the team displayed on Friday,” commented Wood. 

L to R:  Eli Malon, Ryan Ladd and Zach Reed compete at the Ottawa Hills Invite
Photo Credit: Emily Elliott

Freshman Ethan Shoffner turned in another superb outing running 17:37 earning him the 23rd place medal. Two more Freshmen crossed the line next for the Red Hawks as Ryan Ladd (54th – 18:38) and Aiden Weller (56th – 18:41) turned in strong performances. They were closely followed by Sophomore Quinton Bell in 59th place (18:43) and Jack Sherburn in 62nd place (18:46). Zach Reed rounded out the top 7 finishing in 74th place in 19:02. The Red Hawks will be back on the course this Saturday, September 24, when they host 11 other schools for the Cedar Springs Invitational.     

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Girls XC competes at the Ottawa Hills Invitational

Photo by Katie Hotz.

The girls Cross Country team found itself in familiar territory this past Friday afternoon on the banks of the Grand River at the Ottawa Hills Invitational at Riverside Park. The team competed on the same course a week before in the first OK Gold Jamboree. 

“Our second trip to Riverside was a step forward from last week’s meet,” commented Coach Katie Weiler. 

The team finished 9th in the 17 team field. The Red Hawks were led once again by Senior standout Larissa McGrath who finished in 14th place (20:32) in the 133-runner field earning her a medal position. Junior Annalise Elliott returned to the lineup and finished in 38th place. Freshmen Serena Piotrowski continues to drop her time as she posted a personal record (PR) running 22:50 for 66th place. Finishing next for the Red Hawks was Junior Kaitlynn Brown (72nd– 23:00) who used a strong last mile to move up and run a season personal record (PR) by over a minute. Junior Hannah Reed continues to be a steady presence for the team as she finished in 77th place. Hannah was followed by Senior Molly Bentley (84th) and Addyson Brown (87th) rounding out the top 7. 

“I was impressed with how Addyson and Kaitlynn Brown raced in our middle pack. They both improved their season best times by over a minute and can use that momentum as a springboard for big things in the next few races,” said Coach Weiler. “This was the first race that the entire team of 17 ran, which is exciting. We are looking forward to the cooler weather and morning race time for our home invite on Saturday.” 

The Red Hawks will be back in action this Saturday as they host the Cedar Springs Invitational.  

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Varsity volleyball tames Bengals in 3rd conference match

The Varsity volleyball team earned their first conference win at Ottawa Hills on Thursday, September 15, in a dramatic 2-set deficit comeback. The Lady Red Hawks found themselves facing a sweep from the Bengals before taking the next three sets to declare the victory (23-25, 24-26, 25-17, 15-12). Varsity’s record moves to 2-9-1 overall and 1-2 in conference following a packed competition week.

Junior Madison Reyburn dominated the evening both offensively and defensively recording team highs in kills (9), service points (18) and aces (6) while adding 7 digs, 19 serve receptions, 2 assists and a block. Middle hitter Kylee Rypma tallied 5 kills, 4 blocks and 2 digs. Kaylee Veersma contributed 11 assists, 12 service points and 2 aces.

Red Hawks Varsity began the week hosting South Christian in their home conference opener, falling to the third ranked Sailors in three sets (12-25, 11-25, 17-25), then closed the week at the Zeeland West Invite taking losses to the host Dux (10-25;14-25), Zeeland East (18-25; 18-25) and Greenville (16-25; 8-25). Senior Co-Captain Melissa Goslin led the Lady Red Hawks against South Christian with 4 kills, 3 service points and an ace. Fellow Co-captain Courtney Page had 3 kills and 2 blocks.

Volleyball action continues this week when the teams host Kenowa Hills on Tuesday, September 20, and then travel to Forest Hills Eastern on Thursday the 22nd.  Freshman and JV start at 5 p.m followed by Varsity at 6 p.m.   

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Boys tennis working hard with limited players

Senior Aricin Thompson playing number 1 singles against Sparta earlier this season. Courtesy photo.

The Cedar Springs boys tennis team has been making their way through this season as a modest and hard-working team. Due to only having nine players, the Red Hawks have had to forfeit two flights each match, making it difficult to capture more wins.  

Despite the team being short of a few players, the team has had a respectable season so far. With one win against Ottawa Hills, the Red Hawks have also tied with Sparta and Greenville.  

Senior captains Chase Moore and Aricin Thompson have led the team of seasoned players and newcomers.  Thompson, who has stepped into one singles this season, has found success in his matches.  Last year, Thompson had a strong season as a junior playing at two singles

Moore made the move from 4 singles last season to 3 singles this season, and has also enjoyed the challenge.

Thompson expressed that, “playing one singles is a wonderful opportunity. Not only do I get to play the best of the best, but there is a community amongst players because all the number one players have played together throughout their high school careers.”

Senior Chase Moore playing at 3 singles against Sparta earlier this season.

Junior Cole French, and sophomore Evan Mattson,  both have joined Thompson and Moore in the singles lineup.    

French has said that, “It’s a big step up from three singles skill wise even though it’s only one place higher. However, I enjoy the challenge a lot more.”

Due to the fluctuation of the number of people on the team during the seasons, Mattson has bounced between four singles and one doubles.  “It’s definitely been interesting switching from singles to doubles,” said Mattson. “I’ve had to retrain my brain in a sense, but overall, it’s been a good experience switching to doubles.”

Juniors Kyle Parks and Ethan Terpstra have been part of the doubles lineup over the past three seasons, and have been an asset to the team over the years.  They both look forward to their fourth and final season next year as seniors.

Freshman Heath Malon, Oliver Hoult, and Maddux DeWit have been enjoying their first season on the team and look forward to coming back over the next three seasons.  All three of them have grown tremendously since the start of the season.  

The Red Hawks tennis will have their OK Conference Tournament October 1 at South Christian.

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Cedar Springs falls to Catholic Central by one point

By Judy Reed

Cedar Springs quarterback Ryan West scores against Catholic Central. Photo by Nancy Scheer.

Last Friday night’s game against Catholic Central was a nail-biter for Cedar Springs fans, as they saw the Red Hawks finally put some points on the board this season and threaten to break the state champs’ winning streak. 

Catholic Central scored first, late in the first quarter, on a one-yard run up the middle by QB Connor Wolf. The extra point kick was no good.

Cedar Springs then scored with 5:25 left in the second quarter, on an 8-yard run by QB Ryan West, and again with 9:16 left in the third, on a five-yard run by Ryan Mitchell. Rory Schoenborn kicked the extra point after both touchdowns.

The Cougars came roaring back with two more touchdowns in the third quarter, one on a four-yard pass from Wolf to Kellen Russell-Dixon, with another pass to Russell-Dixon good for two more; and the second on a 20-yard run by Russell-Dixon, plus an extra point kick by John Meyer.

Cedar Springs now trailed Catholic Central by 7 points (21-14) in the fourth quarter. With a little more than five minutes left, the Red Hawks marched 71 yards into Cougar territory, and with 38 seconds left on the clock, Ryan Mitchell ran to the left and into the endzone for a nine-yard touchdown.

The score was now 21-20, and a crucial decision had to be made. Do they kick the extra point or do they go for two? Do they go for the tie or do they go for the win?

They chose to run the ball, but CC read the play and shut it down. The final score was CS 20, CC 21.

For the second year in a row, the Cedar Springs Red Hawks varsity football team fell to the Catholic Central Cougars by one point. (Last year it was 40-41.) They are the only team in the last two years to get that close.

How does Coach Gus Kapolka feel about his team’s performance in their first conference game of the season after two non-conference shut outs?

“Obviously we were disappointed with the outcome, but I’m extremely proud of how our guys competed and fought,” he said. “Our offensive line improved dramatically from weeks 1 and 2, so that was a big lift to the team.”

We asked Kapolka if there was anything he’d change about the decision to go for two points, or the play that was called.

“I wouldn’t change the decision to go for two. It was something that we had planned on all week.  Obviously I would want the play call back, but under the circumstances, it was the play that we felt had the best chance for success,” he explained.

Red Hawk Nate Slager (20) led in tackles against the Cougars, with 8. Photo by Nancy Scheer.

The Red Hawks had 285 yards on the ground against the Cougars. Ryan Mitchell led in rushing, with 142; Carter Falan had 58; Ryan West had 55; Rory Schoenborn and Nate Slager both had 14; and Marek Olenak had 2. They also had 22 yards passing, on a pass from West to Josh Kriekaard.

Nate Slager led in tackles for the Red Hawks, with 8. Connor Diemond and Rory Schoenborn had 5; Ryan Mitchell, Josh Kriekaard, Carter Falan, and Ryan West had 4. West also had an interception. Kevin Vanderhaag had two tackles, and several others had one.

The Cougars had 105 yards rushing, with Kellen Russell-Dixon leading with 84, followed by Connor Wolf with 21. They had 165 yards in the air. Wolf completed 13 of 20 attempts. Billy Mikolay was the leading receiver, with 78 yards. Ryan Eastland led in tackles for the Cougars, with 15.

Cedar Springs will face South Christian this Friday, at 7 p.m., at Red Hawk Stadium. What kind of a challenge will they be for the Red Hawks?

“South Christian will present similar issues as Catholic Central,” said Kapolka. “We will need to contain their dual threat QB and eliminate big plays in the pass game.”

Be sure to come out and cheer on your Red Hawks!

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Boys Cross Country competes in OK Gold Conference Jamboree

Sophomores Caleb VanSickle (left) and Quinton Bell (right) prepare for the start of the Central Montcalm Invitational. Photo by Julie Weiler.

The Red Hawk boys Cross Country team traveled to Riverside Park this past week to compete in the first OK Gold Conference Jamboree. Cedar Springs finished 6th in the 8-team field with a team total of 126.  

“Sickness and a couple of injuries nagged the boys going into this one but these are things that we need to be more ready to combat if and when they happen going forward,” said Coach Justin Jones. 

The Red Hawks were led by Senior Espen Wood (16th) and Freshman Ethan Shoffner (19th). The next 6 Red Hawk runners were only separated by 45 seconds. This group was led by Aiden Weller’s strong performance in 28th place. Sophomore Quinton Bell was next to cross the line for Cedar Springs in 33rd place and he was closely followed by Zach Reed (35th) and Eli Malon (37th). Caleb VanSickle rounded out the varsity squad in 38th place with teammate Ryan Ladd 3 seconds behind him in 40th place. 

“The boys know their performance wasn’t what they are capable of as a whole and they are more hungry than ever to show the kind of team we really are going forward,” Coach Jones went on to say.  

On Saturday, September 10th the team traveled to the Central Montcalm Invitational to compete in grade level races. “This meet is always a great opportunity for our younger runners to gauge their progress by racing against kids their age,” said Coach Jones. 

The Freshman harriers showed why the future looks bright by placing 5 runners in the top 25 of the 9th grade race. This group consisted of Ethan Shoffner (3rd), Aiden Weller (6th), Ryan Ladd (7th), Logan Redes (15th) and Sean Davis (23rd). Not to be outdone by their teammates, the Sophomore duo of Caleb VanSickle and Quinton Bell finished 5th and 6th respectively in the 10th grade race. The Junior race saw two top 20 finishes with Zach Reed in 12th place and Brady Morrow in 18th place. The lone Red Hawk participant in the Senior race was Jonathon Reed, who turned in a 21st place performance. “I’m proud of these boys and confident that we have still yet to see the best version of this group as a whole,” said Jones. “We’re working so that this Friday at the Ottawa Hills Invite we get a good taste of that.”

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Lady Harriers finish 5th in First OK Conference Jamboree

Sophomore Kaisa Maki sprints to the finish at the Central Montcalm Invitational. Photo by Julie Weiler.

The Cedar Springs Girls Cross Country team opened its conference season at Riverside Park this past week in the first OK Gold Conference Jamboree. The Lady Red Hawks finished in 5th place out of the eight-team field. 

The team was paced by Senior Larissa McGrath who turned in a strong showing finishing in 6th place (20:16) in the 101 runner field. Freshmen Serena Piotrowski and Junior Annalise Elliott finished 28th and 29th respectively. A trio of runners led by Hannah Reed (39th), Molly Bentley (40th) and Kaitlynn Brown (41st) finished within seconds of one another and worked together throughout the race. Junior Addyson Brown rounded out the Varsity squad in 52nd place.  

Amaya Gomez (left) competes at the Central Montcalm Invitational on Saturday, September 10th. Photo by Kaitlynn Brown.

On Saturday, September 10, the team traveled to Central Montcalm to compete in grade level races. In the Senior class race, Larissa McGrath finished 3rd and Molly Bentley 12th in a competitive field. A trio of Juniors finished in the top 12 in their race led by Hannah Reed (9th), Addyson Brown (10th) and Kaitlynn Brown (12th). In the sophomore class race the three Red Hawk entrants all ran season personal records (PR’s). This group was led by Emily Hoort in 14th, Kaisa Maki in 16th and Allie Teuscher in 18th. All three took off over 50 seconds from their previous seasons best times. The freshman class race saw a quartet of harriers finish in the top 17. The group was led by Serena Piotrowski’s strong 3rd place finish.  Lucy Hotz (10th) and Amaya Gomez (12th) both improved on their times from the conference meet, by 20 and 45 seconds respectively. Shelly Zimmerman rounded out the quartet in 17th place in her first high school meet.  

“We didn’t perform anywhere near our potential at our first OK Gold Conference Jamboree but were able to bounce back on Saturday with some steady performances that show we are headed in the right direction. I’m looking forward to us improving in practice this week so that we can have a successful team effort on Friday at the Ottawa Hills Invite,” said Coach Katie Weiler.  

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Varsity volleyball suffers losses; JV gets win over Catholic Central

Alyssa Krol (2) sets Outside Hitter Kennedi Jager (11) at Catholic Central match. Photo courtesy of Kara Bills Zimmer.

The Red Hawks Varsity team suffered back to back losses on the road bringing their record to 1-5-1 overall and 0-1 in the OK Gold conference. The Lady Red Hawks traveled to Northview on Tuesday, September 6, and fell to the Wildcats in three sets (13-25;9-25;20-25) before opening conference play at Grand Rapids Catholic Central on Thursday, September 8 with a sweep from the Cougars 9-25; 17-25 and 14-25.

The JV team came out with an impressive three set victory over Catholic Central 17-25; 25-17; 15-9 after a narrow 2 set loss to Northview. Freshman volleyball lost both matches in two sets.

Varsity team leaders at Northview included junior outside hitter Madison Rayburn who recorded 3 kills, 1 block and 3 digs alongside sophomore Kylee Rympa adding 3 kills and 1 block. Setter Alyssa Krol tallied 12 assists and an ace while Libero Aleyna Moleski put up 7 digs and 17 serve receptions. At Catholic Central, leaders include Kennedi Jager with 3 kills and 11 serve receptions, Aspen Harwood recording 3 kills and a block and Alyssa Krol with 9 assists and 2 aces.

The Red Hawks continue conference play this week hosting South Christian on Tuesday, September 13 followed by an away match at Ottawa Hills on September 15.  Freshman and JV play at 5 p.m. each night followed by Varsity at 6 p.m. Varsity then travels to Zeeland East on Saturday, September 17 to compete in a quad beginning at 9:00 a.m.

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Volunteers needed 

WE NEED YOUR HELP! Cedar Springs Athletics is looking for volunteers to work home athletic events in the areas of ticket gate help and concessions. If you are interested in volunteering please contact the Athletic Director, Matthew Moffett @ matthew.moffett@csredhawks.org or the Athletic Secretary, Dana Hilyer @ dana.hilyer@csredhawks.org.

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Red Hawks fall to Zeeland West

Varsity Football Team

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Red Hawks hosted Zeeland West in a non-conference game for the first home football game of the season at Red Hawk Stadium last Friday night. 

Zeeland West is a team that plays similar to Cedar Springs, but it was Zeeland West all the Friday night, as they came up with three long touchdown runs early on to make the score 20-0 at the end of the first quarter. The first TD run was by Rolando Robelin, when he ran left for 49 yards with 9:51 on the clock in the first. Exactly two minutes later, they scored again on 32-yard run up the middle by Parker Holman. Holman scored again with 3:36 on the clock in the first on another run up the middle.

The Red Hawks then held the team from scoring again until late in the fourth quarter, when Holman ran up the middle again for 28 yards.

The Red Hawks failed to score, making the final score 28-0.

What does Cedar Springs Coach Gus Kapolka have to say about his team’s performance? 

“Other than a few times mis-fitting the run game, I thought our defense played well,” said Kapolka. “We still gave up too many explosive plays and we continued to struggle on offense. We have to improve our offensive execution. We had 5 red zone possessions and came away with zero points. We have to do better. This will be our focus during our week of preparation.”

The Red Hawks will need to bring their A game this Friday, when they kick off the conference part of their season by facing Catholic Central at Catholic Athletic Field at 2770 Knapp NE in Grand Rapids.  

“The challenge with Catholic Central is that they have won three state championships in a row, 39 consecutive games, and haven’t lost an OK conference game since 2016,” explained Kapolka. “We have a giant challenge in front of us, but I have confidence in our guys and their ability to respond to adversity.”

Game time is at 7 p.m. Head out Friday and cheer on your Red Hawks!

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The Cedar Springs Red Hawks fall to River Rouge in opener

By Judy Reed

Quarterback Ryan West with the ball. He had 77 yards rushing, including a 54-yard run. 
Photo by Nancy Scheer

Cedar Springs kicked off the season by playing one of the toughest teams in Division 3—River Rouge. The two teams faced off Saturday, August 27, as the event finale in the Xenith Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State University, in Detroit. 

It was quite a defensive game between the two teams, and the Red Hawks held the Panthers scoreless until late in the third quarter. Cedar Springs was moving the ball, but could not get on the scoreboard themselves, something that hasn’t happened in 10 years. 

“I thought we played well defensively, especially against a team the caliber of Rouge. They have 12 players with college scholarship offers. I couldn’t be prouder of the effort our guys gave,” said Cedar Springs Coach Gus Kapolka.

“Jeff Myers put together a great gameplan defensively, but unfortunately we couldn’t capitalize on it and punch a couple of scores in.”

Red Hawk Carter Falan tackles a River Rouge player. 
Photo by Nancy Scheer

The first score on the board happened late in the third quarter. River Rouge quarterback Christian Johnson left the game, and backup quarterback Mckale McDowell came in. He passed to Nick Marsh for 21 yards, and this put River Rouge on the 1-yard line. McDowell then ran it in for the touchdown.

The second touchdown was with 8:21 left in the fourth quarter, on another pass to Nick Marsh, good for a 32-yard touchdown. The last score came with 5:16 left left in the fourth, on a 48-yard touchdown run up the middle by Cameron Broadnax. 

“Their size really began to wear us out in the 2nd half and Nick Marsh (MSU Commit #1 WR in the State of Michigan) made two great plays and scored,” explained Kapolka.

Cedar Springs rushed for 203 yards. They were led by quarterback Ryan West, with 77 yards; Carter Falan with 54; Nate Slager with 23; Antwuan Nicholls with 22; Ryan Mitchell with 16; and Kevin Vanderhaag with 12.

River Rouge garnered 173 yards on the ground, and 147 in the air.

This week, Cedar Springs takes on another tough team, Zeeland West, at Red Hawk Stadium on Friday, at 7 p.m. What can fans expect?

“Friday, we play a team very similar to ourselves,” said Kapolka. “They run a similar offense and defense and have a tradition of winning. It will be another challenge for us, that’s for sure.”

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