Column: What a year it has been for the Eddies

Published 7:42 pm Sunday, November 21, 2021

It has been quite a 2021 for the Edwardsburg football team.

The Eddies wrapped up another hugely successful season with a trip to the Division 4 football state semifinals, its second one since January. However, while the results did not go the way Edwardsburg wanted, there is no taking away the fact that the Eddies are one of the dominant teams in the state of Michigan.

There were plenty of tears following Saturday’s loss to No. 3-ranked Hudsonville Unity Christian, which kept Edwardsburg from reaching Ford Field in Detroit Friday night. They came from the players, the coaches, the cheerleaders, the band, family and friends.

But those tears will soon be wiped away, and they will be replaced eventually with a feeling of pride with what this team has accomplished, not only within the 2021 calendar year but also over the past decade.

It may be hard to see right now, but there are very few teams in the state that can boast about their record the way the Eddies can. The have racked up numerous Wolverine Conference, MHSAA District and Regional championships, as well as a state title in 2018. No one associated with the Edwardsburg program should hang its head. They should hold it high and remember all the great times they had during this great run.

I did not catch what player said it while walking past me to the locker room as I waited to talk to Edwardsburg Coach Kevin Bartz, but he certainly summed up exactly how every member of the team, coaching staff and fans should be feeling. He simply said, “I don’t want this to be over.”

Unfortunately, it is for seniors Jacob Pegura, Isaiyah Swartz, Landon Mikel, Trevor Houseworth, Logan McColley, Patrick Szlanfucht, A.J. Obren, Connor Ostrander, Nick Eaton, Jacob Walker, Austin Kirkland, Aiden Johnson, Blake Majewski, Ben Miller, Christopher Russell, Steven Strong and Nathan Samson.

My hat goes off to these young men who have continued the Edwardsburg legacy. They set a new standard by going 46-3 with a state championship, four districts and four regional titles.

I would have loved to have made another trip to Detroit this Thanksgiving weekend to cover the Eddies in the title game. Unfortunately, Edwardsburg ran into a buzz saw in Unity Christian. There was no denying they were the better team this year.

I had to agree with Bartz, who said to me following the game that this is the best team he has ever coached against in his 27 years. This is my 39th year of covering high school football, and they are the best I have seen. They can do it all. They have speed. They are disciplined. They do not beat themselves.They fly to the football defensively, and they play physical football.

Twice this last week, I watched the last of our teams be eliminated from the state playoffs. Like Niles on Tuesday against No. 1-ranked Grand Rapids Christian, Edwardsburg made its school and community proud. The Eddies gave their fans plenty to cheer about this fall. That is something that can never be taken away by a single game. The memories that they have made this year will last a lifetime.

I said it in the column I wrote about the Vikings, and I will say it again here, this is what high school sports are all about — a group of individuals united by a common goal to be the best they can be. Edwardsburg certainly has done that again this season.

 

Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at scott.novak@leaderpub.com.