Home Around Town Regional champions:

Regional champions:



By Jason Wesseldyk

Sports Editor

CASSOPOLIS—I get no respect.

Comedian Rodney Dangerfield made that tagline famous as part of his standup act. Members of the Saugatuck football team could probably sympathize with Dangerfield when it came to their Division 7 regional game with host Cassopolis on Friday, Nov. 10.

The calendar of events on the Cassopolis Public Schools website read: “Regional football game with Saginaw.” And at one point during the game, the Cassopolis PA announcer referred to Saugatuck as Hartford.

By the time the final buzzer sounded, however, it’s a safe bet Cassopolis knew exactly who the Indians were.

Held scoreless throughout the first 45-plus minutes of the game, Saugatuck finally broke through with 2:42 left in the fourth quarter. That’s when receiver Cooper Myers crossed the goal line after hauling in a pass from quarterback Jackson Shriver, knotting the score at 6-6.

That set the stage for kicker Evan Czarnecki, who converted on the extra-point attempt to give the Indians their first lead of the game at 7-6 and propel them to the victory as they went on to win by that same score.

“I think we were already on the map as a program, but this puts us even more on the map,” Saugatuck coach Bill Dunn said.

The regional championship is the second in school history for Saugatuck and the first since 2010, when the Indians advanced all the way to Ford Field for the Division 8 championship game.

“I thought we were moving the football, we just couldn’t punch it in and tried to do what we’re accustomed to throughout the year,” Dunn said. “But dog-gone-it, near the end of the game just like last week, kids stepped up, made a play to win the game. Unbelievable. Unbelievable.”

According to Shriver, Myers wasn’t his first—or second—option on the play.

“I looked at a couple of other guys first, but then I saw Coop over there all by himself,” Shriver said. “So I just put it up there and hoped he would catch it. Honestly, I didn’t’ know he could run that fast. But once he caught the ball, he was gone.”

Neither team could get much going on a night that featured temperatures in the low 20s, with wind chills even colder than that.

“We knew it was going to be cold and we tried to prepare our team for that, but at the end of the day you just have to go out and play,” Dunn said. “And it feels like 80 degrees right now.”

Cassopolis scored its long touchdown early, getting a 6-yard run with 5:10 left in the opening quarter. But the Indians blocked the extra-point kick, leaving the score at 6-0.

The score remained the same midway through the fourth quarter when, facing a fourth-down situation, Cassopolis elected to attempt a field goal. This, too, was blocked, with Reece Schreckengust doing the honors.

“Those are some huge special teams plays,” Dunn said. “Who knows if those kicks are good or not, but we didn’t even give them the chance to find out.”

The drive following the blocked field goal resulted in the Shriver-to-Myers touchdown, providing some redemption for Shriver after an early interception.

“Jackson came up big for us like he’s done all season,” Dunn said. “He shook off that early interception and made a play when we needed him to. And give Evan Czarnecki a lot of credit for kicking the extra point to make the difference in the game.”

Shriver praised the Indians’ defensive play that kept the game close.

“That is the fastest team we’ve played this season, and we did a great job containing them and not letting them score,” Shriver said. “This is a game I knew we could win and I’m so happy right now.”

Shriver finished 6-of-9 throwing for 91 yards, with Brad Dunn on the receiving end of three of those completions for 28 yards. Tommy Beckman had two catches for 22 yards, with Myers’ hauling in the other completion on his touchdown.

Schreckengust, Bryson Davis and Dylan Avalos led the defensive effort with six tackles each.

In the semifinals, Saugatuck will play Madison Heights Madison (11-1). The game is scheduled for a 1 p.m. kickoff on Saturday, Nov. 18, at Lansing Catholic.