Oceana Countys football season will end this week without a playoff bid for any team, but that doesnt mean theres nothing to play for in particular in Hart.
The Pirates are now riding high after delivering the most lopsided beating in the history of the Hart/Shelby rivalry, a 70-12 win Friday night. They close out this season with a winable match against White Cloud.
Hesperia and Shelby, meanwhile, face each other, meaning one of the two teams will be able to end a difficult season with a first win of the season. Which team that will be can be determined by the old sports cliche of who wants it more.
Harts’ victory over Shelby, said coach Joe Tanis, was incredibly gratifying. Aside from holding the Blood, Sweat and Tears Jug for another year, the Pirates set several rivalry records with the win, including the largest Hart victory margin in the series (the previous figure was 45, in 1957) and most points scored. vs. Shelby (formerly 46, done several times).
It was also Hart’s third win of the season, a number only the 2004 team that went 4-5 has surpassed this century. Tanis said the Pirates senior class will be remembered for its hard work pushing Hart football in the right direction, with Friday winning the final benchmark.
I can’t say enough about how this group of seniors has trusted us and paved the way for everything we’ve accomplished this year, Tanis said. These guys are really laying a strong foundation for us to build on and any future success will be directly related to what they’ve done as a group this year. Setting records will be a great memory for many of our boys on the road and a point of pride when they look back.
The Pirates (3-5, 1-5 West Michigan Conference) moved the ball at will in the win, with over 10 yards per game and 474 yards overall. With three touchdowns in the first quarter that gave Hart a 22-0 lead, the Pirates were never threatened. Quarterback Kellen Kimes enjoyed a career day, completing 13-of-24 passes for 266 yards and five touchdowns, albeit with two interceptions. Kimes also ran for 53 yards and one more score. On the ground, Chance Alvesteffer rushed for 58 yards and Joseluis Andaverde added 54, each with a touchdown. Alvesteffer also had 92 yards receiving and caught three scores from Kimes, and Andaverde had 49 yards receiving.
Tanis credited both lines for creating the opportunity for the skill players to post such impressive numbers.
Our goal was to physically dominate up front and we felt like our linemen were up to that challenge, Tanis said.
Week nine’s biggest challenge is getting out of cloud nine to compete against White Cloud, who will likely make the playoffs. If the Pirates won, it would give them three playoff team wins in one season (Holton and Kent City are also postseason-bound), which would be a program first.
On paper, Hart ties in well with the Indians, who took a 50-14 loss two weeks ago against the Kent City team that defeated the Pirates in week two. But as the season finale also coincides with homecoming, focus will be crucial.
Can we learn to deal with a small amount of success and show maturity as a program to refocus on the task? said Tanis. We will use some small goals to help us be the best version of ourselves every day. I believe our children know that good exercise is the key to success for us.
Some of those small goals Tanis has set for his team include scoring 30 points five times in one season, which would be a Pirates record, under 300 points for the first time since 2004 (they’ve handed in 269 so far). ) and, most importantly, matching that 04 squad for the best programs of this century.
These are all things we can achieve this week if we do the job as it should, Tanis said. We just believe that these are really important things to set the stage for a great off-season.
The Indians are licking their wounds after being shot 50-0 by White Pigeon last week, winning just 14 offensive yards in total. White Cloud has only one win since week three.
It sets the stage for what could be a good Friday for the Pirates, if they do the job.
I expect an emotional week and the perfect opportunity to really show how far we’ve come as a program this year, Tanis said.
The intra-provincial battle between Hesperia and Shelby will feature two programs yearning for positive news. Both are 0-8 and have struggled this year, maybe no more than last week. The Tigers suffered a hard 70-12 loss to Hart, while Hesperia was beaten 56-0 by Manistee.
The Tigers are likely to come in with a more positive vibe despite Hart’s loss. Shelby can at least tip his hat to the fact that it doubled its offensive scoring output for the season with the two touchdowns it managed against Hart.
Nick Baffi got Shelby (0-8, 0-7 WMC) on the board early in the second quarter, picked up a pass from Isaiah Garcia and raced 87 yards to the house, briefly gave his team a shot of momentum and cut Hart’s lead to 22-6. The Tigers then answered Hart’s resulting touchdown drive with an 82-yard kickoff return for a score from Cade Clement. Hart did, however, score the last 40 points of the game.
Still, coach Phil Fortier saw enough to create optimism. He felt his team had its best defensive game of the season from a tackling perspective and also performed relatively well against the run, and of course it couldn’t hurt to knock out some big scoring moves. Although the results were missing on the scoreboard, the team continues to work hard and create a positive atmosphere in practice.
Our boys are ruthless, Fortier said. They believe in their ability to improve every week. The coaches and players are more determined than ever. I can’t say it hasn’t been a difficult season, but there is a huge unity in our team. Practice is fun and our boys love to play football. They enjoy doing this together and I think that’s the key to our resilience.
Garcia had a total of 103 yards passing. Clement ran for 19 yards, and Trey Waller had 16 yards receiving. Waller also led the defense with five tackles and an interception; Phillip Hayes also had a choice.
With the Tigers facing an opponent who has had as many opportunities as they have this season, it is culture, Fortier said, that will be as important as anything else in determining this week’s outcome. On the pitch, he said blocking and tackling will be the keys.
It’s that kind of culture that will allow us to become more competitive in the future, Fortier said. The football game is important. It has too much to teach us about ourselves and each other. The youth in this community must play this game.
At the end of Hesperia, inexperience, caused by injuries, was the main problem. Coach David Smith said his team is starting four freshmen and three sophomores, a difficult thing to overcome for a squad that has no substitutes.
The kids are playing hard, Smith said. They’re not physically ready to play varsity football yet, but they’re giving it their all.
On the plus side, the Panthers (0-8) will bring back two linemen for this week’s game, which should give each side of the ball a boost.
It will be a boost that is needed. Hesperia played fairly competitive matches each of the first three weeks for the first three weeks, but injuries and a COVID-19 outbreak took things underwater, losing every match by 41 points or more since then. The Chippewas were able to string together explosive moves on offense and made Hesperia’s life miserable in defense last week.
The two county foes will take the field Friday night in Shelby and each looks set to create a positive memory heading into the off-season.
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