Edwardsburg wins fourth straight district championship

ZEELAND WEST — Two teams known for success with a Wing-T offense stepped on the football field Friday night, but it was undefeated Edwardsburg that played well on both sides of the ball, earning its fourth consecutive district championship.

The Eddies, who won the Division 4 state championship in 2018, defeated host Zeeland West 16-2 for the Division 3 district title Friday night and a spot in the regional final, which Edwardsburg will host at 1 p.m. Saturday.

A win against the Dux (9-1) was a big deal for the Eddies’ football program as they learned the Wing-T offense from Zeeland West years ago. Edwardsburg expected an even and physical match against the Dux program.

“We went into it with the idea if we could get three or four stops on them it was going to come down to a 2-point conversion somewhere,” said Edwardsburg head coach Kevin Bartz. “Somebody would make a mistake, but our defense stepped up.”

Two turnovers from Zeeland West also helped out the Eddies, who dominated the Dux’s running game.

“What we did defensively against Zeeland West, not a lot of teams do that against them,” Bartz said.

Offensively, Edwardsburg made a few adjustments in their blocking scheme after experiencing problems with the Dux’s nose guard.

The Eddies were the first on the board in the second quarter after senior captain Dillion Hursh scored on a four-yard touchdown run with 10:45 remaining.

With 6:36 left in the first half, running back Drew Bidwell strained a ligament. Bartz said Bidwell will go through therapy and be ready to go for the next game. Bidwell is an integral part of the Eddies’ running game along with Hursh and Mac Gadelski.

With a slim 8-0 lead entering the second half, Zeeland West started with a fumble on the opening kick, which Edwardsburg’s Bryce Blue picked up.

The Eddies’ defense continued to play physical and forced the Dux into a fourth-and-eight. Zeeland West attempted a fake punt, but Edwardsburg’s Ethan Griffin tackled Evan Eding. Edwardsburg turned the momentum into a Cayden Calhoun 58-yard touchdown with 3:21 remaining in the third quarter.

“My mindset was keep coming off the ball fast,” Calhoun said. “Pound it down their throat every play and keep moving the ball down the field.”

With one turnover already weighing on the Dux, they fumbled again in the fourth quarter, but recovered with a safety, tackling an Edwardsburg player in the end zone.

As the Eddies took possession and ran down the clock, Calhoun said the win against two good teams just came down to who worked hard in practice and had a better work ethic.

Bartz put the Eddies win over Zeeland West as one of the top three wins ever at Edwardsburg.

“That’s the type of team that these guys are,” he said. “To get a win against [Zeeland West] that’s almost as good as it gets. For us to be here, beating a quality program that has been that way for many years since Coach [John] Shillito’s been here. We couldn’t have had a better performance tonight.”

Edwardsburg will play DeWitt (9-1) on Saturday. DeWitt comes off a 40-7 victory over St. Johns, and will bring a whole different style of football against the Eddies.

“They are going to spread us out so we’ve got a whole new preparation to get,” Bartz said of DeWitt. “We’ve got to heal ourselves up and go for the next one.”