Niles hopes to learn from adversity

Published 3:45 pm Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Niles football team returns home Friday night to take on Kalamazoo Central. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. (Leader photo/File)

The Niles football team returns home Friday night to take on Kalamazoo Central. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. (Leader photo/File)

The Niles football team returns home with its first victory under its belt.

But that victory came with a price.

In the waning moments of its game at Benton Harbor last Friday night, the two teams were involved in a fight that cleared both benches.

The game was stopped with 2:39 to play and the Vikings leading 52-13.

The gist of what happened was Niles scored on a 67-yard run and when freshman kicker Jaycee Myer missed the extra point, the Tigers were flagged for roughing the kicker.

Several Niles players took offense to the roughing and pushing and shoving turned into some players from both teams leaving the benches and taking the field.

Once the officials called the game, Niles coach Antwon Jones wanted his kids to shake hands with Benton Harbor’s and then both teams were made to run sprints by their respective coaches to show that their actions have consequences.

“I wanted to take care of it there and then,” he said. “I didn’t want both teams to leave and then have it fester.”

Jones also wanted to address both teams, who gathered together following their sprints.

“I wanted them to know that we are all in this together,” he said. “Football is all about life lessons. It teachers you a lot about how to handle situations. It is an emotional sport played by emotional people. And sometimes those emotions boil over. But I wanted to let both teams know that they are better than that.

“I told them that we expect more out of them as football players and that I expect more out of myself and out of my coaches. They need to learn how to handle these emotions in the proper way. The big thing is that they need to learn self-control. We are a family and we ought to protect each other, but you have to do it in the right way.”

“I think the situation was handled well by the coaches,” Niles Athletic Director Jeff Upton said. “I think it was a good learning opportunity for the athletes and we will move forward. It certainly shouldn’t be the focus of the evening.”

With that behind them, the Vikings face Kalamazoo Central Friday night.

The Maroon Giants are coming off a 30-6 loss to Portage Northern.

The lone Central score came on a 60-yard run by Simeon Smith on an interception return.

The Maroon Giants are 2-1 on the season having defeated Kalamazoo Loy Norrix (14-13) and Battle Creek Central (23-7) to open the season.

In Kalamazoo Central’s win over Battle Creek Central, quarterback Darius Skinner was 9-of-14 for 175 yards and a touchdown. Forest Drummer rushed for 101 yards on 30 attempts and had one score.

The Vikings rolled up 470 yards in total offense against the Tigers, including 283 yards through the air. Niles used a pair of quarterbacks who combined to go 18-of-30 with three touchdowns.

Niles rushed for 187 yards.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.


Bridgman at Brandywine

The Bobcats are looking to start the season 4-0 for the first time since 1997 when they opened the year with five consecutive victories en route to an 8-1 season.

Friday night’s game against visiting Bridgman is also the Lakeland Conference opener for both schools.

Brandywine will be looking to avenge a 27-26 loss to the Bees last year. The Bobcats have won four of the last five against Bridgman.

The Bees come into the contest with a 2-1 mark. Bridgman defeated Centreville 30-13 in the opener and River Valley 56-7 last week.

Bridgman lost to Lake Michigan Catholic 19-8.

The Bees and Bobcats have the one common opponent so far in Centreville. Brandywine blanked the Bulldogs 49-0 two weeks ago.

The Bobcats are coming off a 47-2 victory over New Buffalo.

Brandywine amassed 268 yards in total offense, led by quarterback Andrew Duckett and Marty Ward. The pair combined for six touchdowns. Ward ran for two scores, while Duckett ran for a touchdown and threw for three TDs.

The Brandywine defense once again played well. Through its first three games, the Bobcats have outscored their opponents 125-8.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Selge Field.