Dowagiac wins West Division titlePublished 11:25pm Friday, October 12, 2012
Dowagiac football coach Mike Stanger knew his team would have to play defense with discipline and focus in order to be successful Friday night against Edwardsburg.
After surrendering a touchdown on the Eddies’ first offensive possession of the game, the Dowagiac defense seemingly made more stops than an eight-sided red sign en route to a 28-8 Wolverine Conference showdown at Chris Taylor-Alumni Field.
With the win, the Chieftains improved their overall record to 8-0 and laid claim to the Wolverine Conference West Division championship.
“(Dowagiac’s) defense is everything they’re touted to be,” said Edwardsburg head coach Kevin Bartz, whose Wing-T offense managed just 155 rushing yards. “They hit and they fly around. They’re like erasers out there.”
The Chieftains needed just 58 seconds to score the game’s first points. Senior Derek Stark raced 58 yards on Dowagiac’s opening play from scrimmage and senior Brendan Murray scored two plays later on a 3-yard run.
Edwardsburg answered immediately with a nine-play drive that spanned 80 yards. Senior Jason Schimpa completed a pair of passes during the march and senior Jack Bywaters capped the drive with a 1-yard blast with 6:15 remaining in the first quarter.
But the Eddies did not hit paydirt again.
“Edwardsburg is a running team that has had success all year and our defense rose to the challenge,” Stanger said. “As hard as we work, it’s hard to simulate what their offense does. We can’t run it like they can in practice and we knew it was going to take a series, or a quarter, to adjust to their speed.”
Dowagiac assumed command on the scoreboard when senior Cal Cox lofted a 17-yard touchdown pass to senior Dontel Highsmith with just less than a minute remaining in the first half.
Senior Brett Scanlon tacked on a 10-yard scoring run in the third quarter, before Stark capped the scoring with seven minutes remaining in the game.
Scanlon, whose 62-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter fell short by about a yard, also added four conversion kicks and each of his five kickoffs resulted in touchbacks.
“Scanlon is a weapon,” Bartz said. “We had to march pretty much the full length of the field and we felt we would be able to do the chipping away and controlling the clock, but we got ourselves in some trouble with some penalties.”
Stark rushed for a game-high 98 yards on seven carries, while senior Todd McIntyre chipped in with 84 yards on just five totes. Dowagiac amassed 286 rushing yards and 337 yards of total offense.
Junior Dylan Hulett led the Edwardsburg rushing attack with 71 yards on 12 carries, while Schimpa completed four of his five passes for 110 yards.
“We made our reads,” Stanger said. “We weren’t going to take away the edge or take away the trap, we tried to take everything away by making our reads. Our goal was to stop the run and make them throw the ball.”
“Our defense played incredible,” said Dowagiac junior defensive end, Carl Grant. ‘We credit Edwardsburg. They came out and ran the ball real nice. We told ourselves if they score, just to keep our heads up and keep working hard.”
Grant led the Chieftains with eight tackles.
Edwardsburg 8 0 0 0 – 8
Dowagiac 7 7 7 7 – 28
D – Murray, 3, run (Scanlon kick), 7-0
E – Bywaters, 1, run (Schimpa run), 8-7
D – Highsmith, 17, pass from Cox (Scanlon kick), 14-8
D – Scanlon, 10, run (Scanlon kick), 21-8
D – Stark, 20, run (Scanlon kick), 28-8