For the fourth consecutive week, the Kalamazoo United football team’s game was decided by three points or fewer. The Titans kicked a 38-yard Heath Baldwin field goal through the uprights with 0.3 seconds remaining to secure a 31-28 road victory over the Schoolcraft Eagles. The victory gives the co-op its highest ever win total with a 7-2 regular season mark. Schoolcraft falls to 5-4 and has to hope they have enough playoff points to sneak into the playoff field and extend their postseason streak to nine seasons.
The Titans started strong, scoring not even two minutes into the game with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Eric Wenzel to Baldwin. Schoolcraft made it to the ten-yard line on their opening drive, but fumbled the ball on a quarterback keeper from Brady Flynn. Titan running back Brenden Warner bolted 83 yards, then Wenzel hit Christian Bartholomew for a seven-yard score and a 14-0 United lead.
Schoolcraft’s second drive found the end zone with a 38-yard rush from fullback Jack Hunt. The Eagles forced a quick punt and scored in the final minute of the first quarter on a 4-yard Hunt run to even the game at 14. The Titans made it back to the red zone, but Baldwin missed a 30-yard field goal. Schoolcraft engineered a 10-run, 80-yard drive and took the lead for the first time with a three-yard Hunt run. United would punt twice more before halftime with Schoolcraft punting and throwing an interception to Aaron Verkaik, keeping the Eagles up 21-14 at the break.
Schoolcraft punted to start the third quarter and Bartholomew had a stellar return, placing the Titans inside the 20. Wenzel threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Warner (although he had retreated all the way back to the 25 to fling it), tying the game midway through the third quarter at 21.
After trading punts into the fourth quarter, Wenzel was intercepted at midfield by Mark Melching, who brought the ball all the way to the five-yard line for Schoolcraft. Three plays later, Kobe Clark was in the end zone on a three-yard rush and Schoolcraft had a 28-21 lead with 6:15 left in the game.
United had no choice but punting after taking a big sack on their next drive, giving Schoolcraft the ball with the lead and under five minutes remaining. The Titans were able to force a turnover on downs, barely making a stop on a fourth and inches at the Titan 29-yard line with 2:36 remaining. After struggling to pass in the second half, the Titans used a 59-yard Warner rushing touchdown to even the game with 1:42 left.
The Eagles made it past midfield and were closing in on field goal range in the final minute, but a running back pass attempt by Kobe Clark was intercepted by Bartholomew, giving United the ball with 44 seconds left at their own 32. A 28-yard reception in traffic by Baldwin pushed the Titans to the Eagle 21 with 19 seconds remaining. A spike and two incompletions left a fourth down and 10 with 6.5 seconds to go.
The kicking team took the field with fireworks visible beyond the goalposts from nearby McCamley Field at Portage Central. The snap and hold were solid and Baldwin booted it through from 38 yards out for the 31-28 win.
Unofficially, Brenden Warner rushed for 285 yards on 23 carries with a rushing and receiving touchdown. Eric Wenzel was 17-35 for 190 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Heath Baldwin had 102 receiving yards off six catches and a touchdown.
Schoolcraft tallied 351 rushing yards. Jack Hunt had 202 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries. Kobe Clark added 132 rushing on 17 tries with one score. Brady Flynn and Clark were a combined 0-5 passing with two interceptions.
Schoolcraft and United are now 1-1 against each other, as the Eagles had won the previous meeting in 2014. Schoolcraft had dominated Hackett Catholic and Kalamazoo Christian prior to the co-op’s forming, going a combined 16-1 against the two schools.
Kalamazoo United will be in the postseason for the second time in the co-op’s four-year history next weekend and has a decent chance to host their game thanks to Friday’s win. Schoolcraft must wait until Sunday’s selection show to see if they sneak into the field at 5-4. Listen back to week nine’s game below:
Listen live online Friday night on the Slocum Sports Network as the Schoolcraft Eagles host the Kalamazoo United Titans for the final week of the high school football regular season. At 5-3, Schoolcraft must win to guarantee their ninth consecutive postseason appearance. With a loss, their only hope would be taking one of the final spots at 5-4 based on playoff points.
At 6-2, United will be a playoff team for the second time in the co-op’s four-year history. However, a win over Schoolcraft could be the difference between hosting or traveling for their first round game. The last three United games were decided by a combined six points, with wins over Constantine (32-30) and Coloma (28-27), along with a loss to Delton Kellogg (35-32).
Schoolcraft dropped their last two games, 36-14 to Watervliet and 32-7 at Coloma. Despite strong rivalries with Hackett Catholic and Kalamazoo Christian in other sports, this will be the first football meeting between Schoolcraft and the United co-op as members of the Southwestern Athletic Conference (SAC). They last met in United’s first season as Kalamazoo Valley Association members in 2014, a 28-7 Schoolcraft win. Historically, Schoolcraft is a perfect 11-0 against Hackett and 5-1 against Kalamazoo Christian, the lone defeat in 2008.
Listen live online to Friday’s game on the Slocum Sports Network with kickoff set for 7 p.m. from Schoolcraft High School.
For the fifth consecutive week, the Watervliet Panthers have won by putting up 50 or more points. The Panthers claimed their homecoming match over Kalamazoo United Friday 52-34, handing the Titans their first defeat of 2017. It also gives Watervliet a 3-0 record over the Titans since the co-op formed. Panther quarterback Zack Pickens set a career high, unofficially throwing for 455 yards.
Watervliet forced a three-and-out on the opening Titan drive, then scored on their opener with a 1-yard Bryant Kieft rush. The two-point toss went to Garrett Matthews for an 8-0 start. United struck on their second drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Eric Wenzel to Heath Baldwin, but stayed behind 8-6 after a sack on the two-point try. Watervliet made it 2-2 on scoring drives and made the lead 14-6 with an 18-yard Pickens rush (their two-point try failed).
The Titans’ next drive ended in a fumble on a botched option run, recovered by Lamarrius Smith. However, United was able to stop Watervliet for the first time on a turnover-on-downs. The momentum switched right back with 8:49 remaining in the second quarter, as defensive tackle James Bell snagged a pass at the line and took it 51 yards for a score. The two-point rush was denied for a 20-6 tally.
Less than a minute later, Wenzel connected again with Baldwin, this time for a 52-yard touchdown pass. They found each other again for the two, putting the Titans back within six, 20-14. The next Panther drive made it to the red zone, but ended in a fumble in what was ultimately their only giveaway of the game. United had to punt, giving Watervliet time to score with 1:13 remaining on a 37-yard pass from Pickens to Kieft. The two-point pass to Matthews gave the Panthers a 28-14 lead going into the break.
Watervliet started with the ball in the third and continued scoring, punching in with a 1-yard Pickens rush. The two-point pass was completed to Ryan Chisek for a 36-14 score. The Panthers attempted an onside kick and Wenzel recovered it and took off, going from his own 45 to within eight yards of the end zone. It took all four downs, but the Titans scored with a seven-yard pass from Wenzel to Jacob Niesen. The two-point try was intercepted, 36-20.
Watervliet again moved down the field with ease, scoring in about three minutes with a nine-yard pass from Pickens to Trent Boone. Matthews’ third two-point catch pushed the score to 44-20 with 4:09 in the third. Not even a minute later, Wenzel found a wide-open Christian Bartholomew for a 50-yard touchdown pass. Wenzel’s two-point rush got them back within 16, 44-28.
The Kalamazoo United defense came alive, forcing a turnover-on-downs on back-to-back drives. After the first, Wenzel found Baldwin for a seven-yard passing touchdown, getting them back within ten at the end of the third quarter 44-34, as the two-point rush was stuffed.
After the second, the Titans started a methodical drive with two fourth-down conversions. However, the 11th play of the drive was a pass deflected by Boone, into the hands of Lamarrius Smith for an interception. Kieft would soon get his second rushing touchdown, this one from five-yards out, and a two-point rush by Pickens pushed the score to its concluding point of 52-34. The Titans’ last gasp would be a turnover-on-downs, followed by the Panthers draining the final four minutes.
The unofficial final line for Pickens; 26-40 passing, 455 yards, two passing touchdowns, along with 146 yards on the ground and two rushing scores. Kieft had 200 yards receiving on seven catches, along with 41 rushing yards for three total touchdowns. Both Boone and Matthews also had more than 100 yards receiving.
For Titan quarterback Eric Wenzel; 24-47 for 300 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions. Bartholomew had 88 yards, Baldwin had 78. The Titans were held to negative yards rushing. Watervliet finished with 641 total yards, compared to 295 for the Titans.
Along with the 5-0 overall mark, the Panthers also begin SAC Valley division play at 1-0. They have three straight road games against Valley rivals ahead with a trip to Delton Kellogg up next. United falls to 4-1 and hosts another 4-1 squad, Coloma, for week six. Listen back to week five’s broadcast below:
Listen live online Friday night on the Slocum Sports Network as the Watervliet Panthers host the Kalamazoo United Titans for week five of the high school football season. Both teams are 4-0 and have been racking up points so far. The Panthers have tallied 50 or more each week, while the Titans have averaged around 40-points per game. Watervliet quarterback Zackery Pickens has thrown 14 touchdowns and rushed for 11. On the other end, United QB Eric Wenzel has 18 TDs through the air.
The game also serves as the first contest of SAC Valley Division play and if the first four weeks are any indication, wins will be hard to come by in the Valley. Along with the perfect starts for the Panthers and Titans, three teams (Schoolcraft, Coloma, & Constantine) sit at 3-1 overall with Delton Kellogg at 2-2.
The Titans have matched their longest win streak since forming the co-op and starting 4-0 in 2014. Only in the inaugural season (6-4) have the Titans won more than four games in a year. United opened with three wins over 2016 playoff teams, defeating Saugatuck (34-21), Gobles (49-14), and Lawton (45-21). Last week, Fennville took them to the brink, but the Titans survived the road trip with a 34-26 win.
Like United, Watervliet downed Lawton (50-7 in week one) and Gobles (54-6 last week). Two weeks ago, they topped Division 6 state runner-up Glen Lake 52-26. They also outraced Buchanan 72-36. While no strangers to high scoring throughout their current six-year playoff qualifying run, Watervliet’s 228 points is the highest the school has ever tallied through its first four games of a season.
These teams have met the last two seasons with both games won by Watervliet, 34-19 last season and 61-21 in 2015.
The Kalamazoo United Titans have started the 2017 football season with back-to-back wins over 2016 playoff teams, winning at Gobles 49-14 on Thursday evening. Like in their week one victory over Saugatuck, junior quarterback Eric Wenzel threw five touchdown passes, putting him already more than halfway to his 2016 total of 19.
United began with the ball and went 77 yards for an opening drive score, 68 yards of which came on passes from Wenzel to Christian Bartholomew. They scored off a 6-yard rushing touchdown from Lawrence Pelkey. The Gobles Tigers answered on their 59-yard opening drive, scoring on a 19-yard Hunter Underwood rush. This put the score at 6-6, as United missed their extra-point kick and Gobles was denied on a two-point conversion.
The Titans took their second drive to the end zone as well, capping off an eight-play, 52-yard drive with a 5-yard pass from Wenzel to Andrew Widger. The two-point conversion succeeded with a pass to Bartholomew, pushing the Titans to a 14-6 lead late in the first quarter. After forcing a three-and-out, the Titans made it 3-3 on scoring drives with a 30-yard TD pass to Heath Baldwin.
Gobles tried a fake punt on their next series and failed, but United couldn’t make use of the short field, missing a 40-yard field goal. The Tigers were denied again and the Titans started their next drive 40 yards from the goal line. Pelkey got 39 of those yards on the first play, although he was injured on the run and didn’t return. A 1-yard fade pass to Baldwin gave United a 28-7 advantage .
The Tigers would fight back before halftime, using the final four minutes for a nine-play, 69-yard scoring drive. An Andrew Kimble to Tyler Stedman 24-yard touchdown pass with 41 seconds remaining, plus a two-point conversion rush by Travis Chandler, put Gobles back within two scores, 28-14. Gobles began with the ball in the third as well, but the Tigers were held to one first down for the entire second half, seeing three punts and two drives ending in a turnover on downs.
United’s opening third quarter drive finished with a 15-yard TD pass to Widger. Gobles had one last hope late in the third with a Stedman interception (the game’s lone turnover) starting them off in the red zone, but a turnover on downs sealed their fate. The Titans scored twice more in the fourth quarter, on an 11-yard pass to Bartholomew and a 26-yard rush by Brenden Warner.
Unofficially, Eric Wenzel had 249 passing yards, going 20-35 with five touchdowns and one interception. In only two quarters of work, Pelkey gained 104 rushing yards on 12 attempts. Warner added 80 off another 12 attempts. Bartholomew led all receivers with 107 yards on six catches and one touchdown. Gobles’ Kimble was 3-6 passing for 46 yards and one score. Hunter Underwood was their top rusher at 56 yards, one ahead of Chandler’s 55.
Kalamazoo United improves to 2-0 and returns home Friday to face Lawton, another 2016 playoff qualifier. Gobles falls to 0-2 with a trip to Constantine in week three. Listen back to Thursday’s game below:
Listen live online Thursday around 7 p.m. on the Slocum Sports Network to a Southwestern Athletic Conference (SAC) Valley versus Lakeshore division football contest. The Gobles Tigers will be hosting the Kalamazoo United Titans for week two, moving up what had been a week eight contest the past two seasons.
These squads had polar opposite starts to their season last Thursday. United, 4-5 last season, avenged a 44-point loss from 2016 by downing Saugatuck 34-21. Saugatuck stream-rolled their regular season foes last year, including a five-week shutout streak, en route to a 10-1 final record.
Gobles, 8-3 last season, opened Thursday at Coloma (3-6 last year) and lost 61-8 in a stark departure from the 23 and 35-point victories the Tigers earned over Coloma in 2016 and 2015. Last season, Gobles outraced United to a 56-35 victory in the second-ever meeting between the Tigers and the Hackett/Kalamazoo Christian co-op team. Their first meeting in 2015 went to the Titans 46-29. Historically, Gobles is 11-4 against Kalamazoo Christian and never played against Hackett alone.
The Tigers return first-team SAC Central selection Travis Chandler and honorable mentions Andrew Kimble and Ron DeVries. The Titans bring back first-team SAC Lakeshore Eric Wenzel along with honorable mention Brenden Warner.
Listen online live to Thursday’s game on the Slocum Sports Network with kickoff around 7 p.m.. Due to a JV contest prior to varsity, the game may begin later than 7.
The postseason began and ended Monday evening at Wings West for Kalamazoo United, as they fell 7-2 to Lowell/Caledonia in the MHSAA Division 1 Pre-Regional 5 semifinals. It avenges last year’s 7-6 Pre-Regional loss for L/C, who moves to 14-10-1. United finishes at 21-4-1, a disappointing end to the strongest season in program history.
Lowell/Caledonia grabbed the momentum right away, as Nick Vantil tallied the opening goal less than three minutes into the game. L/C added a shorthanded goal midway through the first by Alex Osborn to carry a 2-0 lead into the first intermission. United fought back, as Brenden Warner scored on the powerplay only 22 seconds into the second period. Eddie Heikkila matched it though for L/C with 11:59 remaining, but another Warner powerplay goal with 8:25 in the second gave United some hope.
The momentum would shift drastically when Ethan Pinto scored for Lowell/Caledonia with 71 seconds remaining in the second, giving L/C a 4-2 lead into the break. Osborn scored his second goal of the contest only two minutes into the third and L/C controlled the game from there, adding goals late by Nolan Winterburn and Austin Whaley.
Lowell/Caledonia moves to the Pre-Regional 5 final Wednesday at Wings West at 6:30 p.m. against East Kentwood (7-16-2). East Kentwood knocked off Lowell/Caledonia 3-1 in their regular season meeting on December 9.
Listen back to Monday’s broadcast below:
The postseason begins Monday for high school hockey in Michigan with Kalamazoo United hosting Lowell/Caledonia in the MHSAA Pre-Regional 5 semifinal at Wings West in Kalamazoo. These teams met in this round last season in a game that United won 7-6
United finished the regular season at 21-3-1, grabbing their first ever Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League (SWMHSHL) regular season and tournament titles. They’re looking to advance to the regional final for the first time in program history. United has the best winning percentage within the Division 1 field, however, SWMHSHL teams have struggled at the state tournament level in recent years. The last time any league team made it to the final eight was in 2009, when both Portage Central and Mattawan did it.
The Hams also are looking to rebuild their momentum with the start of the postseason. After winning the SWMHSHL final over Mattawan on February 18, United lost its final two regular season games, 7-5 to Northview and 6-3 to Gabriel Richard.
For Lowell/Caledonia, they went 13-10-1, ending with back-to-back losses to Grand Haven and East Grand Rapids. Their last playoff victory came in the first round over United 9-3 in 2014. Like United, L/C hasn’t had much postseason success historically. Interestingly enough though, of the seven teams within Region 3, L/C and United are the only squads with a winning record on the season.
Listen to Monday’s broadcast from Michigan Sports Radio and simulcast through the Slocum Sports Network. Puck drop is set for 6:30 p.m.
Kalamazoo United added a Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League (SWMHSHL) tournament championship to their accolades Saturday, defeating last season’s champion Mattawan 3-2. It’s first ever tournament title for United, added with their first ever regular season crown grabbed earlier this month.
The lone goal of the first period came with 3:02 remaining when Noel Cavey put it in on the powerplay, giving United a 1-0 lead. Mattawan killed off a five minute boarding major midway through the second period, but right after the penalty, defenseman Eric Smith tallied his first goal of the season for a two-goal United advantage. That advantage lasted all of seven seconds as Ben Berkowitz took off after the faceoff and buried it to put the score at 2-1 into the second break.
United regained a two-goal lead with 14:48 left in the third period on a score by Dominic Monendo and held the two-goal advantage into the final two minutes. With the goalie pulled, Ben Berkowitz put the Wildcats back within one with 1:24 remaining. However, KU goal Mitch Kihm held firm and delivered the tournament title to United. Jacob Remelius had two assists for United, Jake Kruzich grabbed two assists for Mattawan.
United moves to 21-1-1 overall with Mattawan dropping to 11-11-2. Both teams have one week of regular season play prior to state tournament play. United travels to Northview Wednesday night, then hosts a very strong Gabriel Richard squad Saturday at 1:30. Mattawan ends their regular season Saturday at home at 6 p.m. versus Grandville.
Listen back to the tournament championship below. In consolation games Saturday, Portage Central beat Portage Northern 6-3 and the Kalamazoo Eagles downed the Southwest Michigan Blades 3-1.
Following the game, season awards were given out with KU well represented. Cavey and Remelius split the league MVP award with Kihm earning goalie of the year. Coach of the year went to Tyler Eddy of the Blades. All-league teams are below:
G- Mitch Kihm (Kalamazoo United)
D- David Kiel (Kalamazoo Eagles)
D- Jacob Remelius (Kalamzoo United)
F- Noel Cavey (Kalamazoo United)
F- Jeff Kirkendall (Mattawan)
F- Max Mones (Portage Central)
G- Zac Hattan (SWM Blades)
D- Brad Kolinski (Mattawan)
D- Kobe Vincent (Portage Central)
F- Evan Wilson (SWM Blades)
F- Ben Berkowitz (Mattawan)
F- Quentin Cerutti (Kalamazoo United)
After going to overtime in both of their regular season meetings, Kalamazoo United and Mattawan will meet Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on the Slocum Sports Network for the Southwest Michigan High School Hockey League (SWMHSHL) tournament championship at Wings West.
United claimed the regular season title this season for the first time in program history off a 9-1 league record. Sitting at 20-1-1 overall, they will try to add their first ever tournament title to their accomplishments.
For Mattawan, they are the defending tournament champion having beaten Portage Central 4-3 for last year’s crown. The Wildcats have taken the tournament title in three of the previous four seasons. They took second in the standings this season at 6-3-1 and hold an overall mark of 11-10-2.
These teams met one week ago with United taking a 3-2 overtime win. United started ahead 2-0, but Mattawan tied the game in the second period. It remained deadlocked until Noel Cavey ended it on a powerplay goal in OT. Their first meeting of the season on November 23 had a similar result, ending 5-4 in OT in favor of United. United held a 4-1 lead entering the third period, but Mattawan tied it by the end of the third. Like the second game, it was Cavey with the overtime winner.