Cassopolis now 2-0 after routPublished 3:28pm Wednesday, September 9, 2009
By DON EDEN
ST. JOSEPH – Last year, the talent rich Cassopolis football squad waited until just over a minute remained to defeat Lake Michigan Catholic.
This year, the young Rangers (5 seniors) waited just over a minute after kickoff to return an interception by junior Nathan Hartline for a touchdown in a 40-7 conquest of the Lakers.
“We played such a terrible game last year and that gave us our motivation,” declared Cassopolis (2-0) coach Andy Hubbard. “Our guys got a good push early on, but it fizzled out.”
Senior star running back DaShaun Curtis of Cass sizzled as he scored a pair of touchdowns in the first quarter and senior Agust Olafsson connected on all three point after kicks for a 21-0 advantage.
“They are a good all around team, but we helped by making mistakes,” stated LMC (1-1) coach Jerome Learman. “Curtis is a great back, but they have 5 backs that can run behind a good line.”
Defensively, the Rangers were also stellar after limiting LMC to minus 17 yards in the first quarter with the only first down being on a roughing the passer penalty.
Neither team found success moving the ball in the scoreless second stanza with the Lakers coming close in their final drive as a penalty on 4th and 1 from the six-yard line backed them into a fumbled pass attempt on the next play.
“We like to rotate a lot of defensive linemen with Tommy First, Josh Montgomery and Austin Los at end and six or seven tackles led by Xavier Brooks, Cory Brewer and Dominic Forbes,” noted Hubbard. “We are definitely a young team and the kids are working into our system.”
Curtis was the leading rusher for the Rangers at intermission with 51 yards on 5 carries as the total equalized the century mark on 15 totes by all the ball carriers.
LMC only snapped the pigskin five times in the third quarter as Cassopolis used a time consuming running game that reached pay dirt halfway through the stanza with junior Marcus Ruff doing the honor from 10 yards.
“That drive after halftime was key and changed the game for us,” said Hubbard. “These non-conference wins were big since we play four Class B schools in our conference who are double or triple our enrollment.’
Scoring his third touchdown of the evening was Curtis after grabbing the only completion (two intercepted) by senior quarterback Steven Eleazer from 11 yards as the score reached 34-0 midway through the fourth quarter.
Each team scored in the final two minutes on big plays as sophomore Forbes galloped 64 yards through the middle and junior quarterback Austin Juza found sophomore Brandon Robinson in the center of the field to complete the scoring with 19 seconds remaining from 73 yards.
“We have a lot of football left and glad we didn’t quit by playing hard until the end,” concluded Learman. “A lot of work has to get done as we used all 8 formations, but we would like another shot at them in the playoffs.”
The Rangers finished with 310 yards on the ground with six runners carrying the pigskin on 39 attempts as Curtis (11-90) led in both categories. Meanwhile, LMC managed only 29 yards rushing with 33 tries. Juza also has a 22-yard completion, which was the first first down in the second half with three minutes left to play.
Cassopolis was also the leader in first downs (11-6) and penalty (75-44) yardage.
“Our penalty yardage needs to be cleaned up, but the film will show our mistakes on what to focus on to improve,” explained Hubbard. “We would like to get into the playoffs as there is a lot of balance in the rest of our schedule.”
Cassopolis 21 0 6 13 – 40
Lake Michigan 0 0 0 7 – 7
C – Nathan Hartline 26 interception return (Agust Olafsson kick)
C – DaShaun Curtis 2 run (Olafsson kick)
C – Curtis 13 run (Olafsson kick)
C – Marcus Ruff 10 run (kick blocked)
C – Steven Eleazer 11 pass to Curtis (Olafsson kick)
C – Dominic Forbes 64 run (kick blocked)
LMC – Austin Juza 73 pass to Brandon Robinson (Joey Frazee kick)