Brandywine’s Marty Ward Jr. is the Bobcat’s leading rusher with nearly 1,000 yards. Ward and the Bobcats will need to continue to have a balanced offense as they head into the playoffs. (Leader photo/File)
Brandywine’s Marty Ward Jr. is the Bobcat’s leading rusher with nearly 1,000 yards. Ward and the Bobcats will need to continue to have a balanced offense as they head into the playoffs. (Leader photo/File)

Archived Story

Nate surprised by first round opponent

Published 3:27pm Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Brandywine football coach Mike Nate got a surprise when the playoff pairings were revealed on Sunday and his team was matched up against Schoolcraft.

“We didn’t expect to play them,” said Nate. “I asked five different people (before the pairings came out) and I got five different answers. None said we’d be playing Schoolcraft.”

The good news for the Bobcats is that the Eagles are a familiar opponent. Brandywine traveled to Schoolcraft last year in the opening round of the playoffs. The bad news for the Bobcats is that the Eagles prevailed, 41-8.

“We looked like we had stage fright last year,” Nate said. “We had turnovers (four) and when we were at the goal line we couldn’t put the ball in the end zone.”

Brandywine will try to close the gap this year on its home field. Both teams take an 8-1 record into the Division 6 pre-district game.

“They’re a tough team,” Nate said. “Schoolcraft has a great football tradition. It’s a measuring stick to see how far are program has come.

“Schoolcraft is similar to last year. They have a different quarterback, but they run the same offense and defense.”

That offense has totaled 365 points this year and, defensively, the Eagles have given up 142 points. Schoolcraft, which is in the playoffs for the fifth straight year, shared the Kalamazoo Valley Association title with Olivet and Battle Creek Pennfield. Schoolcraft’s lone loss came against Olivet (28-14).

Brandywine is making its fourth trip to the playoffs. The Bobcats have never won a playoff game. This year Brandywine had its best regular season record since 1997 and won the Lakeland Conference title for the first time since 1997. The Bobcats shared the league title with Cassopolis. Brandywine’s lone loss came at the hands of the Rangers, 35-12.

“We have to be able to handle adversity,” Nate said. “You’re not going to win every game, 50-0. The first time that we trailed this year was against Cassopolis. When that happened we were a different team. We have to play with confidence.”

Brandywine scored 299 points this year and allowed only 93.

“We’re still improving offensively,” Nate said. “We’re still looking for an identity on that side of the ball.

“On the flipside, we’ve been successful and improved on last year’s (7-3) record.

“But, we have to be better than we’ve been to win a playoff game.”

Junior quarterback Andrew Duckett leads Brandywine offensively. Duckett has completed 47-of-95 passes for 788 yards with 16 touchdowns. Duckett has rushed for 399 yards on 73 carries with six touchdowns. Junior running back Marty Ward Jr. has rushed for 989 yards on 125 carries with 13 touchdowns and senior running back Brandon Earles has rushed for 288 yards on 21 carries with six touchdowns. Senior tight end Trent Moskwinski has caught 18 passes for 326 yards with two touchdowns. Sophomore wide receiver Austin Knapp has caught nine passes for 217 yards with four touchdowns, while senior receiver Alec Nichols has caught eight passes for 129 yards with five touchdowns.

“Blocking (Schoolcraft) might be a problem,” Nate said. “They have some big kids. Their two defensive tackles are big.”

Leading Brandywine defensively are senior defensive end Trevor Jones (64 tackles, 20 unassisted), linebacker Ward Jr. (58 tackles, 13 unassisted), junior linebacker Charlie Rodriguez (56 tackles), senior safety Jake Wright, (56 tackles), senior defensive tackle Bela Tiser (52 tackles) and senior cornerback Kenny Laurita (4 interceptions).

“I’m feeding to our kids that we can become the first Brandywine football team to win a playoff game,” Nate said. “That’s motivation enough.”

 

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