No. 1 Eddies host No. 3 Wildcats
EDWARDSBURG — The biggest game of the 2018 season has arrived.
No. 1-ranked Edwardsburg (6-0) will host No. 3-ranked Three Rivers (6-0) for the Wolverine Conference championship at Leo Hoffman Field Friday night.
The winner will claim at least a share of the league championship as the other eight teams have at least two losses on the season.
Edwardsburg is on a mission to return to the Division 4 state championship game.
The five-time defending conference champions will also be looking to erase the memory of a regular-season loss to the Wildcats in 2017.
Three Rivers upset the Eddies 21-18 last season, but Edwardsburg turned the tables on the Wildcats in the postseason, winning 30-12 in the Division 4 district championship game.
Edwardsburg rolls into Friday night’s contest fresh from a 58-6 thrashing of Plainwell, which earned it an automatic playoff berth.
Three Rivers defeated South Haven 55-7 last week to also improve to 6-0 and earn an automatic playoff berth.
“We have played very well for the past six weeks and feel we are getting better every week,” said Edwardsburg coach Kevin Bartz. “Each new opponent provides us with different nuances to prepare for. We stress to the kids the importance of mastering their keys and doing their job every play. We try to focus more on the process and perfecting the details. If we continue to do that the end result should be favorable.”
The Wildcats are experienced and dangerous, especially through the air.
Quarterback Jalen Heivilin has competed 44 of his 69 pass attempts for 593 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions in the four games he has played.
Devin Gidley has played in all six games for the Wildcats and is 13-of-20 for 176 yards with three touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.
“Their biggest threat comes from the arm of their quarterback Jalen Heivilin,” Bartz said. “Heivilin is posed, confident and does an excellent job of reading defenses. He has a handful of excellent receivers to throw to, including Gavin Charvat and Bryce Morlan.”
Morlan had 18 receptions for 192 yards and six touchdowns. Charvat has caught 17 passes for 215 yards and a score.
Jett Haifley is a third option for Three Rivers with his seven receptions for 143 yards and a touchdown.
On the ground, the Wildcats turn to Garrett McDonald, who has rushed for 261 yards on 49 carries with four touchdowns, and Parker Ellifritz, who has 263 yards on 54 carries and five touchdowns.
With the postseason just three weeks away, Friday night’s clash will have the feel of a playoff game.
“There is a lot of excitement surrounding this game,” Bartz said. “This game pits two teams that are both 6-0, that are ranked first and third in the state, that played twice last year with each team claiming a victory. This game will most likely decide the conference champion and to add to the excitement it is homecoming night at Edwardsburg. It should be a football fan’s perfect night.”
The Eddies continue to grind up yards.
Edwardsburg has now rushed for 2,212 yards and has 2,576 yards of total offense, while its opponents have been held to just 479 yards of total offense by a stingy defense.
That defense is led by Drew Bidwell and his 33 tackles. Dylan McColley has 26 tackles and Dillon Hursh 20.
Cayden Calhoun and Mac Gaideski both had a pair of interceptions, while seven Eddies have recovered fumbles this season.
Offensively for Edwardsburg, Caden Goggins had 541 yards rushing on 35 carries with 10 touchdowns.
Chase Sager has rushed for 370 and scored eight touchdowns, while Isaiah Mitchell has run for 353 yards and scored eight times.
Tre Harvey, who has 201 yards rushing and four touchdowns, is 11-of-11 passing for 334 yards and four scores.
Gaideski is the top receiver with four catches for 104 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Against Plainwell last Friday night, Edwardsburg scored a pair of first-quarter touchdowns and never looked back in building up a 38-0 halftime advantage.
Goggins rumpled in from 49-yards out for the first touchdown, while Miller scored on a three-yard run.
In the second quarter, Harvey, Mitchell both scored on touchdown runs.
Harvey scored from 10-yards out, Mitchell from three-yards out and Goggins on a one-yard run.
Goggins returned the second-half opening kickoff 56 yards for his third touchdown of the night.
Gaideski and Calhoun concluded the scoring with a touchdown run and a 50-yard interception return respectively.
The Eddies finished the night with 441 yards of total offense, including 345 yards on the ground, led by Goggins with 111 yards on seven carries.
Sager added 92 yards, while Mitchell finished with 42 yards.
Harvey was 3-for-3 for 98 yards. Goggins caught two of those passes for 57 yards.
Defensively, the Eddies limited Plainwell to 114 yards of total offense.
Nelson led the team with seven tackles. and Cameron Thompson both had six tackles.
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