Craig helps Niles win season opener

Published 12:09 am Friday, August 29, 2014

KALAMAZOO — With just under one minute remaining in Thursday night’s season-opener at Kalamazoo Loy Norrix, high school football players from both teams raised their helmets in unison to pay tribute to Niles senior Sean Craig.

Craig, whose father passed away earlier in the week, was embraced near midfield by his brother, Dustin and exited the field after playing every down on both sides of the ball in a lopsided 36-13 Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference victory over the Knights.

“This really helps,” a teary-eyed Craig said after the game. “It’s a brotherhood and we are starting to grow as a team and love each other.

“This is the first game (my dad) has ever missed since I was in pee wee (football), but I know he had a front row seat tonight from above and I know he was watching, so that makes it a little easier.”

Niles head coach Antwon Jones echoed similar sentiments.

“It’s been an extremely difficult week,” he said. “Mr. Craig coached all of these kids growing up and was a good man.”

Craig returned to practice two days following his father’s passing and accounted for the game’s first touchdown. He finished on the receiving end of a 2-point conversion pass from sophomore quarterback Alex Harpenau just moments prior to the touching tribute.

Craig rushed for 38 yards on seven carries and added 29 yards on a pair of pass receptions.

“It’s a family atmosphere that we have been preaching,” Jones added. “Our kids have bought into that and they care. It’s not about how many touchdowns you score, or how many sacks you get, it’s about teaching you how to care about your family. These boys are there for their family.”

Senior Ra’Quon Glenn had a monster game for Niles, racking up 151 yards on seven receptions from Harpenau and a pair of touchdowns. Harpenau completed 14 of his 21 pass attempts for 209 yards.

Craig opened the scoring on a 1-yard blast near the midway point of the first quarter, before Harpenau and Glenn connected on TD passes of 17 and 47 yards to stake the Vikings to a 21-7 lead by halftime.

Junior Joe Avance tacked on a 5-yard scoring run early in the fourth quarter and senior Adam Langmeyer capped the scoring with a 24-yard interception return. Sophomore place kicker Jaycee Myer was a perfect 4-for-4 on extra-point kicks.

The Vikings amassed 383 yards of total offense. Senior Warren Smith led the rushing attack with 78 yards on eight carries.

Niles held Loy Norrix to just 36 yards on the ground and 175 stripes, overall.

“I liked what we saw, defensively,” Jones said. “We have some things to work on, though.

“Offensively, we put some points up and showed some firepower, but we had a lot of blown opportunities. We will work on that and be better, but I am just proud of the boys.”


Niles                14       7          0          15 — 36

Loy Norrix        7        0          0          6 — 13

LN: Mitchell 28 pass from Parlato (Kizer kick)

N: Craig, 1, run (Myer kick)

N: Glenn, 17, pass from Harpenau (Myer kick)

N: Glenn, 47, pass from Haroenau (Myer kick)

N: Avance, 5, run (Myer kick)

LN: May, 3, run (kick failed)

N: Langmeyer, 24, interception return (Craig pass from Harpenau)