The Hudsonville Eagles began their 2021 Varsity Football campaign traveling just over 2 hours to the Battle at the Big House. The University of Michigan hosts several high school games as a week one kick off to the season. This year several of the state’s best programs were in attendance for this two day season opener. GR Catholic Central vs LaPeer, Traverse City West vs Midland, and Dewitt vs Traverse City Central were the Thursday games. Friday would see H H Dow vs Fenton, Hudsonville Eagles vs Saline Hornets and finally Clarkston vs Davison.

The Eagles came out of the locker room featuring several new names and faces having graduated all but 6 starters from last years team. JR QB Trey Carr would be the play caller, and classmates RB Drew Baine and Gibson Kok  would be the featured backs. SR RB Devin Mervau would also carry the ball several times.  The targets for Carr would primarily be classmates featuring Eli Vanderveen, Brad Raredon, and SR Dylan Ham to name just a few. Underclassman Chase Ciolek would be utilized several times throughout the day in several formations.

Coach Brent Sandee would rely on a combination of Juniors and Seniors to open running lanes and protect his young quarterback. From LT  John Bushman (sr), LG Eli Reinsma (sr), C Mason Dykstra (jr), RG Nick DeKleine (jr), and RT Austin Johnson (sr) the ability to move the ball on the ground and through the air was nearly in mid-season form. Several big yardage plays happened behind the blocking schemes on the right hand side of the line.

Defensively the Eagles would be tasked to stop not one, but two very talented athletic quarterbacks. Soph C.J.Carr (grandson of former U 0f M head coach Lloyd Carr) would get the start at the play caller position. Last years starter until an injury had him sidelined SR Larry Robinson II would start as a slot receiver, but he would see plenty of snaps from the quarterback position. Several people have said “If you have 2 quarterbacks you don’t have 1”. Although I agree for the most part, the combination of Carr and Robinson was very entertaining and exciting to see.

Coach Sandee had his defense ready for anything. Carr can really throw it around accurately, while Robinson II runs the ball with a similar style to a former U of M standout of the same last name. The Eagles defense stayed fundamentally sound, and played the run and the pass well. They limited the number of big yardage plays to a minimum which is a big positive considering the talent on the other side of the line.

The Eagles scored first on a 3 yard run by Baine. The PAT was wide, but the Eagles were in front 6-0 with just under 3 minuets left in the first frame.

Two minuets into the second quarter the Eagles would add 3 more to the scoreboard courtesy of a 17 yard FG by SR K Emanuel Dieppa. 9-0 Eagles, but they were not done, just 62 seconds of game clock and the Eagles had opened up a 16 point lead. Baine would carry the ball across the goal line from 8 yards out and the PAT was good. Eagles were shutting out the Hornets 16-0.

The lead would hold up for about 4 more minuets until Carr would connect with Robinson II for a 33 yard TD. The PAT by JR K Riley Behman would split the uprights and the Hornets were on the board trailing 16-7.

The next score would also belong to the Hornets, this time Carr would find JR WR Garrett Baldwin for a 44 yard Pitch-and-Catch. The PAT would miss the mark but the Saline squad had close the gap to just 3 (16-13).

The scoring in the half was not finished as with lass than 100 seconds left in the half, Eagle RB Gibson Kok would run in a 12 yard score. The Dieppa PAT was good and the halftime lead for the Eagles would be 10 points (23-13).

The third quarter would only see one score. The Hornets would again narrow the margin to 3 as Carr found SR Gavin Mesman on a 23 yard strike, the PAT would again be pure, Eagles 23-20.

The Eagles and Hornets would then then trade Touchdowns early in the 4th. First the Eagles qb Trey Carr would connect with SR WR Jayden Timmer for a 12 yard score, but just 90 seconds later Robinson II would again find the end zone, running it in from 2 yards out. Eagles still up by 3 30-27.

The final score was another run by Robinson II at the 4:52 mark in the fourth. This gave the Hornets their frist and only lead of the game 34-30.

The Eagles would then methodically drive the field using the running and passing game. Eventually they would find themselves in the shadow of the goal posts trying to find some last minuet heroics. A pass play from the 10 yard line looked like an Eagle score, but the officials ruled the receiver down at the one yard line. The Eagles would try to hurry up and punch it in as the clock was running down. With just 10 seconds left, the Hornet coaches called their last two timeouts consecutively. They wanted to see which offense the Eagles would use and get their defense set accordingly. A strategy that would prove effective, as the Saline goal line defense was able to help force a miss handled snap on the final play of the game and keep the Eagles from scoring as the clock ran out. Final 34-30 Saline.

The Hornets will host Ann Arbor Huron next Friday. Last year the Hornets beat Huron 43-19 on the River Rats field.

The Eagles will also host next weeks game. They will host Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (1-0) on Friday night.

Anyone who had either of these teams on their schedule had better bring their A game. These are two real good young teams.