The Ranger football team created a great memory for senior players as they defeated White Pigeon 45-6 in its final home game of the season Friday.
And for Cassopolis seniors John Linardakis and Aaron Majewski, it will stick them forever.
The players say they will remember the hard work and determination during practice and games and the common link to brotherhood that helps make the Rangers a dominant force on the gridiron.
“I’ve been a varsity player for two years,” Majewski said. “I love how emotional this game can be, not to mention the fact that I can hit somebody and get away with it. I love coming out here on Friday nights and having people come to see you. I love having everyone come together and I love having 11 brothers on the field with you, it’s inseparable. My final night on this field was unspeakable. It’s a great honor to play on a good field. It will be sad to see it go.”
“Aaron Majewski brings a lot of emotion to our team,” Cassopolis coach Dan Purlee said. “He may be one of the smaller guys on the team but he does a heck of a job for us a defensive tackle.”
A transfer from Stanish-Sterling Central High School (45 minutes north of Saginaw), John Linardakis has only been a Ranger for two years.
“I have been playing football for 12 years,” he said. “The team came out better in the second half and smacked them around a little bit. We did what we were supposed to do tonight. I want to be the type of player that this team can remember. Stats don’t matter to me. At the end of the day it’s about the other 10 guys on the field.”
His coach says Linardakis is a valuable asset to the team.
“John Linardakis is our hardest worker. This kid is an animal,” Purlee said. “He is tough and physical, he brings the presence to our line that we need.”
Playing in their last game at William F. Scott Field before renovations begin next week, Linardakis and Majewski could not have pictured a better ending.
Welcoming White Pigeon to town, the Rangers went back to their old ways of offense, using up a lot of clock on way to running 15 rushing plays to only one pass.
Cassopolis opened the scoring on their first drive of the game, going six plays (all rush) for 81 yards. Ranger sophomore Tyrese Hunt-Thompson ignited the Cassopolis faithful with an impressive 71-yard run during the drive. Senior Quarterback Shane Los would run in from a yard out on the next play.
“We wanted to get back to our base look,” Purlee said. “That’s the full house ‘T’ and we wanted to the get back to that tonight. We knew that the past two games we had to spread the ball out a little bit, but we wanted to get back to pounding the ball again.”
The Chiefs’ ensuing drive only went for 20 yards on six plays and ended in a punt. Looking to continue the success of the run like they did on the first drive, the Rangers were unable to convert a fourth-and-14 from the Chiefs 28 yard line to get another score.
White Pigeon’s second drive of the game went all the way to the Cassopolis end zone with it first score in reach. However a fumble across the goal line and a Ranger recovery meant a touchback and the ball on
their own 20.
The next play from scrimmage Cassopolis fumbled and White Pigeon’s Carlos Castro returned in 32 yards to tie the game at 6-6 midway through the second quarter.
Cassopolis would again fumble on the next drive.
After White Pigeon was unable to capitalize on a second Cassopolis turnover, the Rangers had the ball on their own 41-yard line.
A 38-yard catch by senior Micha Welch from Los and rushes from Hunt-Thompson and Los set up a 10-yard run and 2-point conversion by senior Marquise Curtis to give the Rangers the lead that would hold on to for the rest of the night.
“We came out a little bit flat in the first half,” Purlee said. “The coaching staff gave them a bit of a butt chewing and we wanted to come out and make a statement in the third quarter.”
The halftime speech worked.
White Pigeon’s drives in the third quarter involved two three-and-outs, a fumble and only 30 yards on total offense.
Cassopolis exploded for five touchdowns (three by rush, one by pass, and one by fumble) and 214 yards of total offense in the final 24 minutes.
Seniors Curtis and Los, junior Brandon Anderson and sophomores Hunt-Thompson and Hunter Parsons all took part in the Ranger fun.
With the 35-point mercy rule in effect, Cassopolis forced the Chiefs to punt and throw an interception on its way to moving to 5-1 on the season and one win away from making the MHSAA playoffs for another year.
Cassopolis travels to Centerville next Friday.
“I see three wins in our next three weeks,” Purlee said. “We have two more divisional games in the BCS to win our division again this year and we want to have a good start to the playoffs. We want to go 8-1.”
CASSOPOLIS 45, WHITE PIGEON 6
White Pigeon 0 6 0 0 – 6
Cassopolis 6 8 31 0 – 45
C – Shane Los 1 run (kick no good).
WP – Carlos Castro 32 fumble return (kick fails).
C – Marquise Curtis 10 run (Curtis conversion good).
C – Tyrese Hunt-Thompson 30 run (conversion fails).
C – Brandon Anderson 28 fumble return (conversion fails).
C Micha Welch 22 pass from Los (conversion fails).
C – Curtis 60 run (kick fails).
C – Hunter Parsons 6 run (Anderson kick).
Varsity records: White Pigeon 1-5, Cassopolis 5-1.
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