Column: You can always count on Eddies to be playing in late November
Published 1:59 pm Friday, November 18, 2022
For the past 22 years, like death and taxes, you can always count on the Edwardsburg football team to be playing late into November.
The Eddies have made 17 playoff appearances in those 22 seasons, including 13 straight dating back to 2010. Prior to 2000, Edwardsburg only won seven games once (1997) and six games twice.
So, what changed for the Eddies? How did they go from being around a .500 or below football team into the juggernaut that they are today? There are actually two reasons.
The first and foremost reason for its success is that Edwardsburg hired a young football coach named Kevin Bartz 28 years ago. It took a few years, but Bartz finally was able to turn the program around, and the Eddies’ have never looked back.
The second reason was Bartz and his coaching staff decided that after losing to Constantine eight straight seasons — from 2000 until 2007 — that is was time to make a change in scheme. Edwardsburg decided to switch the Wing-T offense, which has brought decades of success to the Falcons’ program.
Bartz and his staff spent hours upon hours learning everything they could from anyone they could about running the Wing-T successfully. It took a couple of years to perfect running the offense, but the Eddies were off to the races once it did.
Everything fell into place for Edwardsburg starting in 2010 when it went 11-2, and its run of 13 straight playoff appearances began. In the last 12 years, the Eddies have won nine consecutive district championships and seven regional titles, advanced to the state semifinals seven times and won the 2018 Division 4 state championship with a 28-7 win over Chelsea.
Edwardsburg is chasing its second Division 4 state title as it faces Grand Rapids South Christian at Battle Creek Harper Creek High School at 1 p.m. Saturday.
The Eddies will have to beat the Sailors for a third straight year to get there. Last year, Edwardsburg defeated South Christian 28-14 in the regional finals, while in 2020, the Eddies knocked off the Sailors 47-7 in regional finals, which were played in January due to COVID-19 postponing the end of the regular season for nearly two months.
The Sailors come into the semifinals with a 12-0 mark after rallying in the fourth quarter last week to defeat Whitehall 28-14. South Christian defeated Hudsonville Unity Christian 35-20 for the district title. Unity Christian is the team that eliminated the Eddies 58-8 in last year’s Division 4 semifinals.
The Eddies (11-1) lost a 28-20 decision to Grand Rapids West Catholic in Week 1, but have won 11 straight games since. There have been a few close calls for Edwardsburg this season, but it has withstood all challenges.
When the two teams played in January 2020, there was plenty of snow on the ground, but the temperatures were pretty mild for mid-January. I remember it well because I could not believe how nice it was outside.
I am pretty sure Saturday’s semifinal in Battle Creek is not going to be as nice. While we have been getting dumped on in southwest Michigan, with some places having already received more than a foot of snow, I do not know what the snow totals are to the East of us. I am hoping they have had much less and that the outcome of the game will not be affected by the weather.
I know it will be cold, but since Harper Creek has a synthetic surface, the field should not be a factor.
Even if it is, with the Eddies running the ball more than 90 percent of the time, they can play through whatever weather Mother Nature whips up. I also know that the Edwardsburg faithful will get out their winter weather wardrobe and make the journey to support their Eddies.
It has been a great run for the 28 seniors that Edwardsburg has on its roster. They have won four Wolverine Conference and four district championships, and three consecutive regional championships.
I wish them good luck Saturday as they put it all on the line for a trip to Ford Field in Detroit and another shot at a Division 4 state championship.
Scott Novak is sports editor for Leader Publications. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org