Defense stiffens in time
By BURT ANGELI
KINGSFORD – Kingsford’s defense yielded 32 points and 368 yards in the home opener Friday at Flivver Field.
But that same group saved the day with big stops in a 34-32 non-conference football battle with Cedar Grove-Belgium from the Sheboygan, Wis., area.
“They made some big plays and we gave up some big plays,” said Coach Chris Hofer, his Flivvers torched for five scores from 50-plus yards. “That kept the game interesting.”
Alex Patterson plunged for a pair of short touchdown runs to help the Flivvers to a 34-18 cushion late in the third quarter. But no lead is safe with the Rockets and speedster Aaron Chier, who scored three times on a kick-off, pass and sprint.
“We knew it would take an enormous effort with no mistakes,” said Cedar Grove Coach Chris Zablocki, whose father and stepmother, Allan and Jan, reside in Kingsford Heights. “We made a little too many mistakes.
“Kingsford being a great program, a great team with great kids, they took advantage of those mistakes.”
Kingsford’s first drive resulted in a nine-yard scoring pass from Joe Hofer to Cole Tengesdahl. Cedar Grove answered immediately with Chier rocketing 82 yards on the kick-off.
The Flivvers pulled ahead 20-6 after the first quarter. They converted two fourth-down plays before Patterson plowed two yards for a 13-6 edge.
With less than a minute in the first period, Ed Sexton’s textbook tackle jarred the ball loose and Lucas Jennings stepped 23 yards to the end zone with the fumble.
That 20-6 difference evaporated when Chier galloped 56 yards and quarterback Drew Emperley tossed a 59-yard scoring pass to Logan Peterson.
The Rockets nearly pulled ahead at halftime, reaching the Flivver 5 before Sexton disrupted two final plays.
Kingsford’s 20-18 halftime edge climbed to 34-18 in the third quarter when Jake Allen rambled 25 yards for one score and Patterson plunged one yard for another.
Cedar Grove, aided by a Flivver fumble, retaliated with a pair of 61-yard scoring pitches to Chier and Peterson. The Peterson reception was tipped from a Flivver defensive back.
“They’ve got some playmakers on that team,” Chris Hofer said. “We had some chances to put them away, and bang they would hit a big one on us.”
With nine minutes to go, Cedar Grove had two more shots at taking the lead. The Rockets got to the Flivver 31 but Brody Sundquist destroyed a fourth-down sweep.
Sacks from Tyler Roberts (two) and Dan Fleming snuffed another Rocket opportunity from the Flivver 37.
“It was a great high school game, it really was,” Hofer said. “I’m glad we came out on the top end.”
Kingsford allowed 260 yards passing, mixing man and zone defenses to control Chier. The junior rushed for 120 yards on 14 attempts and caught two passes for 64 yards.
“The passes they completed we had coverage,” Hofer said. “I think on two of them we just never made a play on the ball and the third one was a tip.
“It’s not the like the guys were wide open other than the long one down the middle (to Chier). We were waiting for them to try it and sure enough they got us on it.”
It was a who’s who of coaches at Flivver Field with Ron Warner (Lake Linden), Ken Hofer (Menominee) and Dick Allen (Iron Mountain) in attendance.
“I grew up watching Coach Hofer and Mark Novara, the Rak (Mike Raketich) all those guys,” said Zablocki, who called it an honor to coach at Flivver Field. “I’m humbled to be on the same field as Coach Hofer.
“They’re a lot bigger than us but we fight and play hard. That’s what I learned at Lake Linden from my coach (Ron Warner), and that’s what we do. My kids never gave up. I’m proud of them.”
The Flivvers produced 207 yards total offense. Allen and Sundquist each rushed for a team-high 40 yards and Joe Hofer completed seven of nine passes for 76 yards – all in the first half.
Kingsford (2-0) travels to Westwood Saturday. Cedar Grove will take a 2-1 ledger into Central Lakeshore Conference play.
Cedar Grove 6 12 6 8 – 32
Kingsford 20 0 14 0 – 34
K – Cole Tengesdahl 9 pass from Joe Hofer (kick failed), 8:09.
CG – Aaron Chier 82 kick return (kick failed), 7:56.
K – Alex Patterson 2 run (Hofer kick), 1:35.
K – Lucas Jennings 23 fumble return (Hofer kick), :48.
CG – Chier 56 run (kick blocked), 11:51.
CG – Logan Peterson 59 pass from Drew Emperley (run failed), 8:28.
K – Jake Allen 25 run (Hofer kick), 8:11.
K – Patterson 1 run (Hofer kick), 2:41.
CG – Chier 61 pass from Emperley (pass failed), 2:27.
CG – Peterson 61 pass from Emperley (Peterson from Emperley), 9:05.
Total offense – Kingsford 207 (131 rushing, 76 passing), Cedar Grove-Belgium 368 (108 rushing, 260 passing).
Rushing – Kingsford, Hofer 5-minus 13, Sundquist 12-40, Patterson 8-38, Allen 6-40, Roberts 9-21, Ferree 2-2, Tengesdahl 1-3; Cedar Grove, Wenzel 6-16, Chier 14-120.
Passing – Kingsford, Hofer 7-9-0, 76; Cedar Grove, Emperley 7-9-0, 260.
Receiving – Kingsford, Tengesdahl 5-36, Harrington 1-18, Schaut 1-22; Cedar Grove, Peterson 3-139, Chier 2-64, Mueller 1-18, Winkleff 1-39.
First downs – K 12, Cedar Grove 12.
Penalties – K 6-35, Cedar Grove 5-30.