Reeths-Puffer running back Julian Munday (left) gets ready for some contact from Josh Blauwkamp of Zeeland East during Friday night’s football game.
MUSKEGON — Early on during Friday’s O-K Black Conference tilt between Reeths-Puffer and Zeeland East, it would have been hard to convince an outside observer that one team entered the game unbeaten and the other had just one win.
The Rockets and Chix were virtually even throughout the first quarter, battling to a scoreless frame. Even when the Chix scored early in the second quarter, Reeths-Puffer came back to drive the ball inside the Chix’ 10-yard line. The Rockets appeared to be in business.
However, quarterback Zach Santose was stopped one yard short on a fourth-down scramble, and Zeeland East quickly ripped off a 95-yard drive for a touchdown. The Rockets kept fighting but couldn’t really recover, falling to Zeeland East 34-6.
“Our kids competed,” Reeths-Puffer coach Kyle Jewett said. “They’ve done that all year. They just made more plays than we did. That’s all it was.”
It wasn’t just the plays Zeeland East made, but the timing that made things difficult for the Rockets.
Zeeland East struck again just before halftime on a long scoring toss from Custer to Zach Hill. A couple of failed conversion attempts kept the score at 19-0 going into the break.
Reeths-Puffer inched back into the game late in the third quarter on a lengthy drive that ended when Johndries Betts-Render bulled into the end zone from a yard out. The PAT was blocked, but R-P appeared to be on the verge of making things interesting.
The Chix put a stop to that quickly, as a long run by Spencer Viening led to a quick touchdown that extended the Zeeland East lead. After a two-point conversion, it was 27-6. Zeeland East would put the Rockets away from there.
“They’re a darn good football team,” Jewett said. “They’re 7-0 for a reason.”
Betts-Render led the Rockets’ effort, carrying the ball for 88 yards on 19 attempts. Santose added 24 yards rushing and was seven for 17 passing.
The Reeths-Puffer defense did a good job getting to the quarterback, sacking Custer on multiple occasions, but Custer was also able to avoid the rush several times and find open receivers downfield. Zach Hill caught two touchdowns for the Chix, who ate up many of their yards on big plays.
“They have a very quick-strike offense,” Jewett said. “That’s how it’s designed, for the quarterback to drop and be protected and be able to launch the ball. They certainly hurt us on a few.”
Reeths-Puffer honored its 1992 state championship team at halftime. The radio call of the winning touchdown was played over the P.A. and a good chunk of the squad was in attendance to be recognized.
As for the current team, the Rockets continue to battle hard, despite having lost six of their seven games to this point. Reeths-Puffer certainly did not look like a team in search of its second win for much of the night against a strong Chix squad.
“I’m extremely proud of these kids for coming out here and embracing the new program,” Jewett said. “There’s obviously going to be hurdles, as there would be anywhere else. This place has a ton of potential. We’re going to realize that potential.”
The Rockets will host Union this week. Union is also looking for its second win of the season.
Whitehall romps 48-24
WHITEHALL - “We’ve been in a one-game playoff since we lost three games,” Whitehall co-head coach Cliff Sandee said following his team’s 48-24 homecoming win over the scrappy Hart Pirates Friday night.
The Vikings have won two straight games to keep them in contention for a playoff spot. They must face unbeaten Oakridge on the Eagles’ field this coming Friday.
But, Sandee said his team is ready.
“The boys are peaking at the right time.”
Last Friday, the one-win Pirates gave Whitehall a tough time early on. Hart took advantage of a Whitehall turnover and had the ball deep in Viking territory. However, Coach Keith Stratton’s defense held the Pirates out of the end zone.
Whitehall, which rolled to 413 yards rushing and another 70 in the air, didn’t score until eight minutes left in the second quarter, but by the time the half ended the Vikings held a commanding 28-0 lead.
The winners started the second half with a bang as Joe Sika sprinted 75 yards on the first play to give Whitehall a 35-0 lead.
Joe Sika led the Vikings in rushing with 176 yards on 7 carries. Antwan Burks ran nine times for 146 yards. He scored three TDs, including one on a pass from quarterback Steve Sika. Dontae Burks ran for two TDs, and Devontae Vance ran for one.
Steve Sika was three of six passing for 70 yards and one TD.
On defense, Timmy Carrier led Whitehall in tackles with 12. Joe Sika had a pass interception and Dakota Hoffman recovered a fumble.
Montague edges Spartans
MONTAGUE — Montague got off to a sluggish start Friday night, but managed to come out with a 24-15 victory over Mason County Central and secure a state playoff berth for the 12th straight season.
The Spartans actually took a 7-0 lead into the second quarter, but Montague came to life in that frame, as Brandon Moore capped off a Wildcats’ drive with a two-yard scoring burst to tie it. Moore would later hit Jacob Marsh shortly before halftime for a pivotal score that gave Montague a cushion heading into the second half. Chris Carroll would later add a scoring run for good measure.
The Wildcats controlled the rest of the game on defense, not allowing the Spartans into the end zone again until the very end of the night.
Marsh, in addition to his touchdown catch, had a standout game on defense, recording an impressive total of 22 solo tackles and assisting on five others. Montague recorded four sacks on defense as well.
The Cats, while not their normal explosive selves on offense, did manage 269 yards of offense. Moore threw for 97 and ran for 49, while Alex VanVleet posted a team-high 57 receiving yards.