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Cedar Springs runs Lowell out of first place

By Judy Reed

Cedar Springs had a lot riding on the outcome of the varsity football game against Lowell last Friday. How the rest of the season would play out would depend on what happened. If the Red Hawks won, they would take sole possession of first place in the OK-White, and that sixth win would give them a berth in the playoffs for the third year in a row. That’s a lot of pressure. But the Red Hawks didn’t fall prey to the “what ifs.” They just went out and played their game—and won 44-20.

Teamwork and running their game plan has helped the Red Hawks earn another berth in the playoffs. Here Zak Schmid (right) runs with the ball against Lowell. Photo by Rob and Kelly Lalone.

“All week we talked about our focus on the task at hand and not to get caught up in potential outcomes,” explained Cedar Springs Coach Gus Kapolka. “We were locked in from the start and executed well on both sides of the ball early.”

Cedar Springs scored early and often, as they have done all season. They struck first with 8:45 on the clock in the first quarter when the team drove the ball down the field 65 yards and Aiden Brunin scored on a one-yard run into the end zone. Ben Shaw then ran in the extra points, and they led 8-0.

A little over a minute later, Brunin intercepted a pass at the Lowell 45 and returned it to the Lowell 35, where the Red Hawks took over. Three plays later they scored again, with 6:05 on the clock, on a 22-yard pass from CS quarterback Jeremy Campione to Nathan Elliston. Landon Totten’s run for extra points was no good, making the score 14-0.

On Lowell’s next drive, Doan Dean fumbled the ball at the Lowell 40, and it was recovered by Red Hawk Aiden Brunin with 3:14 on the clock. Cedar Springs scored for the third time four plays later, when Campione ran to the left 5-yards and into the end zone for the touchdown. He then passed to Brunin for two extra points. At the end of the first quarter, the score was Cedar Springs 22, Lowell 0.

The Red Hawks scored again early in the second quarter. The Red Arrows were at the Cedar Springs 25 with 10:08 on the clock when Brett Spanbauer fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Red Hawk Brennen Porter. Cedar Springs scored two plays later, when Ben Shaw ran up the middle for a 73-yard touchdown—the first of two long touchdown runs for Shaw. Campione’s run into the end zone for extra points was good, and the score was now Cedar Springs 30, Lowell 0.

Lowell finally scored on their next drive, made up of 10 plays, all runs by Brett Spanbauer. He scored on a two-yard touchdown, with 4:49 on the clock. The pass for extra points to Brennan Pawloski was no good. The score was now CS 30, Lowell 6.

Cedar Springs scored again in the third quarter with 7:11 on the clock, when Zak Schmid ran for a 45-yard touchdown. Brunin then ran in the extra points. The score was now Cedar Springs 38, Lowell 6.

Lowell scored again early in the fourth quarter, with 9:12 on the clock, when Doan Dean ran right for a 7-yard touchdown. The extra points were no good. The score was now CS 38, Lowell 12.

Cedar Springs was back on the board again less than a minute later, when Ben Shaw had his second long TD run of the night, running 82 yards and into the end zone to score. Brunin’s run for extra points was no good. The score was now CS 44, Lowell 12.

Lowell scored one last time with 4:37 left on the clock, when Doan Dean ran right for a 4-yard touchdown. His run into the end zone for extra points was also good. The score was now CS 44, Lowell 20.

Cedar Springs punted on their next drive, but on Lowell’s third play, a pass from Doan Dean to Cade Solomonson was intercepted by Red Hawk Miles Cartwright at the Lowell 37, with 2:38 on the clock. The Red Hawks ran one play, and the game was over, with Cedar Springs winning 44-12.

Cedar Springs netted 336 yards on the ground with several different players contributing. Ben Shaw led in yards with 198 yards on five carries; Aiden Brunin had 43 yards on 10 carries; Zack Schmid had 54 yards on three carries; Landon Totten had 20 yards on three carries; Jeremy Campione had 18 yards on three carries; and Nathan Elliston ad 12 yards on four carries.

CS quarterback Jeremy Campione completed one of one attempted pass, for 22 yards to Nathan Elliston for a touchdown. 

Lowell had 209 yards rushing, with Brett Spanbauer leading the way with 134 yards on 23 carries; Doan Dean had 60 on 20 carries; Nate Clark had 14 on five carries; and Sam Lixie had one yard on one carry.

Lowell completed 12 of 18 passes for 93 yards. Brett Spanbauer was 7 for 12 and 44 yards, with one interception; Doan Dean was 4 for 5 and 29 yards with one interception; Andy Anschutz was 1 for 1 with 20 yards.  

Seth Almas led in tackles for the Red Hawks with 11; Aiden Brunin and Nate Webb both had 8; Kaden Liggett and David Whitten both had 7; Miles Cartwright 6; Zak Schmid, Kaleb Colby and Nathan Elliston 5 each; Landon Totten and Ben Shaw 4; and seven others 2 or less.

Kapolka credited the team’s scouts with helping them to prepare for the game. “I thought our scout offense did a great job getting us ready for Lowell. Dylan Greenland and David Dipiazza especially were important to our preparation during the week,” he explained.

Cedar Springs is now 3-0 in conference, and 6-1 overall. They need to win the next two games—against Grand Rapids Ottawa Hills (1-6) and Grand Rapids Forest Hills Northern (2-5)—to win the OK White Conference Championship outright. This Friday’s game against Ottawa Hills is Homecoming at Red Hawk Stadium, and has a start time of 5:30 p.m. 

What does Coach Kapolka think the team has to do to hold on to first place?

“We need to maintain our focus even with the distractions of early start times and Homecoming activities in order to win the OK White Championship outright,” he said.

Come on out and cheer on your Red Hawks in the last regular home game of the season!

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Cedar Springs shuts out FHN 40-0

The Red Hawks scored their 8th straight win of the season Friday against Forest Hills Northern. Courtesy photo.

Red Hawks win OK White championship

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Red Hawks Varsity football team accomplished three feats on Friday night—and two of them hadn’t been done in Cedar Springs for 60-plus years.

The biggest and most important feat was that they won their first ever OK White Conference championship, and they won it outright—they were undefeated in conference play, and finished 6-0 in conference, and 8-1 overall in the regular season. It was their first conference championship since they shared the OK Bronze conference championship with Forest Hills Eastern in 2015.

“It is a great accomplishment for our team,” said Coach Gus Kapolka. “Winning the OK White was one of our goals from the very beginning of the season. I’m proud of how dedicated all of our kids were in winning Cedar Springs’ first ever OK White Championship. We need to continue with our dedication and preparation moving forward throughout the playoffs.”

The second feat they accomplished was three straight shut outs in a row, which they hadn’t done since 1956, when they were part of the Newaygo-Cnty league and had five in a row. 

The third accomplishment was that they won eight straight games—something that had not occurred since 1954, as part of the Newaygo-Cnty league. That year they went 9-0, winning every game on their schedule. This year’s only loss was the first game of the season to Saginaw Swan Valley, the 2017 Division 5 state runner up. 

The game last Friday against Forest Hills Northern was cold and wet, but the Red Hawks pulled off another great performance. They scored once in the first quarter on a 33-yard touchdown run by Lucas Pienton, and quarterback Kolby Swank passed to Ethan West for the extra two points. 

They scored three times in the second quarter. With 9:48 on the clock, Kolby Swank ran in a 7-yard touchdown, and Ryan Ringler ran in the extra points. With 1:32 left, Sage Serbenta ran right for a 5-yard touchdown, and Ringler ran in the extra points. Then with 39 seconds left til half, Serbenta returned a punt 50 yards for a touchdown, and Swank’s pass to Ringler was good for the extra points.

In the third quarter, Ringler scored on an 8-yard touchdown run, and Serbenta ran in the extra points.

The Huskies got close to scoring in the fourth quarter after a fumbled punt put them within five yards of the goal line. But the Red Hawks gave no quarter, and and the Huskies were stopped on the one-yard line, by Red Hawks Xavier Anderson and Zak Schmid, and Cedar Springs took over the ball.

The Red Hawks rushed for 333 yards, with Serbenta getting 109; Ringler 78; Pienton 44; Ethan West 41; Landon Totten 33; and Swank 24.

Ringler led in tackles with 12; the rest of the team had four or less.

This Friday Cedar Springs will host Gaylord (6-3) in the Division 3 (region 1, district 1) pre-district playoffs. Ticket prices are $6. Come on out and cheer on your Red Hawks!

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Cedar crushes Caledonia in home opener

There was no stopping the Red Hawks last Thursday as they garnered almost 400 yards in the game against Caledonia last Thursday. Photo by Rob LaLone.

By Judy Reed

The Cedar Springs Red Hawks brought their A-game last Thursday, August 30, when they hosted Caledonia for the first home game of the season and ran away with the win 46-7.

The Red Hawks were fresh off a loss to the Division 5 state runner-up Saginaw Swan Valley, where they had some trouble getting the offense going that they needed. But the Red Hawks found their groove against the Fighting Scots, scoring once in the first quarter, three times in the second quarter, and twice in the fourth.

The Red Hawks netted 338 yards on the ground, and 56 in the air, for 394 total. Ethan West ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns, followed by Lucas Pienton with 96 yards and one touchdown; Sage Serbenta ran for 50, Ryan Ringler had 36, Zak Schmid and Kolby Swank each had 16, Ben Shaw and Landon Totten ran for 10 each, including a touchdown by Totten.

Swank completed three passes out of three attempts, with two resulting in touchdowns—a 25-yard pass to Lucas Pienton, and 20-yard pass to Kaden Liggett. The third pass was 11-yards to Ethan West. 

Their defense was also stellar, allowing Caledonia only 154 yards on the ground for the whole game and one touchdown, which came in the second quarter. Leading in tackles for the Red Hawks was Ryan Ringler with 12 and 3 assists; Xavier Anderson with 6 tackles and 4 assists; Gage Gardner with 8 tackles; and Sage Serbenta with 6 tackles, 1 assist, 1 QB sack, and 2 fumble recoveries. Many other Red Hawks also contributed defensively, including Lucus Pienton and Graham Bayink, both with 1 interception each.

Cedar Springs travels to Northview this Friday, September 7, to take on the Wildcats. They have beaten Northview for the last five meetings, but Northview came out strong this year, with a win over Comstock Park 68-47, and they still put a lot of points on the board in their loss to Jenison last week, 43-36. It should be a good game! Travel to Northview and cheer on your Red Hawks!

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Varsity Wrestlers finish 3rd


The Varsity Red Hawks traveled to Allendale on Saturday, January 6, for the Falcon Individual Invite.

Three Champions were crowned as the team took third place behind Lakeshore and Allendale. 

Aaron Smith (17-6) won his first ever Varsity tournament at the 135lb weight class. Lucus Pienton (21-2) dominated the 152 division. Ryan Ringler (22-1) earned Most Outstanding Wrestler while claiming the prize at 171.

Jacob Galinis won his 100th Varsity match while placing third at 140lbs. Consolation Champions also included Trevor Marsman (17-5), Logan Hull (21-2) and Anthony Brew (12-2). David Erxleben, Zak Schmid, Chris Shafer and Caleb Baty placed for the Red Hawks as well.

On Friday night, January 5, the team kicked off OK-White duel action with a victory over Northview and a loss to four-time defending State Champion Lowell.

The boys will be at Forest Hills Northern this Friday, January 12, at 5:30 for a showdown with the Huskies and Rangers. Saturday they will travel to the east side of the state to take on Warren Woods Tower and foe.

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