‘Quite a challenge’

KINGSFORD – Kingsford and DeWitt did each other a favor in the off-season.

Both schools needed a football game and the second week of the season worked. The Flivvers (1-0) and Panthers (1-0), a four-time state finalist since 2002, clash at 6 p.m. Friday.

“We had a tough time finding one,” said DeWitt Coach Rob Zimmerman, in his 16th season at DeWitt. “We made some calls and Kingsford was happy to play.

“We look at this trip as one to form team unity and play a quality opponent. We’re excited about the opportunity to come up there (from the Lansing area).”

The teams exchanged video from their opening games. DeWitt dumped Linden 39-0 while Kingsford downed Lakeland 18-0 in a weather-shortened contest.

“Kingsford has a great reputation,” Zimmerman said. “Kingsford kids play extremely hard and fly around on the field. They’re obviously well coached, too.”

Quarterback Jake Johnson, who has committed to Central Michigan University, threw for 241 yards and two scores and rushed for 78 and another touchdown against Linden.

“Central is a great fit,” said Zimmerman, noting Johnson heard from more than 20 Division 1 schools.

Johnson was joined in the offensive fireworks by ShonQuise Trainor, eight pass receptions for 192 yards and two touchdowns, and running back Ben Heinritz, 106 yards on the ground and two TDs.

Senior back Ben Zamiara was a defensive standout with two interceptions, a blocked punt and fumble recovery.

“They’re a lot better defensive team than people give them credit for,” Hofer said. “They do things pretty good on defense.”

Tackle Jacob Wozniewski (6-5, 245) is also a college prospect, garnering Ivy League interest and from other schools.

“This will be one of the better teams we’ve ever played,” said Coach Chris Hofer, who has taken on some heavyweight opposition in his 28 years with the Flivvers. “It will be quite a challenge for us.

“They’re just a big, physical team. They can throw it, they can run it. It’s a good football team.

“Obviously, when you have personnel like they have you have to do some extra things.”

DeWitt finished runner-up in the 2013 Division 3 state finals. The Panthers also placed second in 2004, 2003 (Division 4) and 2002 (Division 3).

Detroit Free Press regards DeWitt as the third-best team in the state – all divisions.

“The kids would love to get there again (Ford Field),” Zimmerman said. “But we have to keep things in perspective. We need to play one game at a time and work on getting better.

“Our goal is to win the conference and get back in the playoffs.”

The Flivvers sputtered offensively in the Lakeland whitewash. The game was called because of lightning with 7:44 left in the third quarter.”

“We can play a little better on offense,” Hofer said. “Offensively, our execution was poor at times and pretty good at times. It’s a matter of being consistent.

“I would have liked to have one more offensive drive (in the game).”

Austin Stanchina (11 defensive points) and Don Lee (10 points, 9 tackles) led the Flivver defense against the Thunderbirds.

Hofer said back Jaxson Ferree will return while kicker Tyler Waisanen remains on the injured list.

“Jaxson is a weapon,” Hofer said. “Tyler has worked hard and can’t seem to get out of the gate (with a nagging injury.”