Purlee’s Edwardsburg coaching debut spoiled with 56-12 loss to West Catholic

Published 12:57 pm Saturday, August 26, 2023

EDWARDSBURG — The Edwardsburg football team’s first game of the Dan Purlee era did not go as planned Friday night.

After scoring the game’s first touchdown, the Eddies gave up 56 unanswered points to defending Division 6 champion Grand Rapids West Catholic in a 56-12 loss. The 44-point loss is Edwardsburg’s worst loss margin since losing 48-0 to Kalamazoo Christian in 2007 and its worst in a season opener since a 44-6 setback against Hopkins in 2008.

“We came out fired up, ready to go,” Purlee said. “Our kids were fresh and we put together a good drive. We connected on a nice pass play and we moved the ball well, so that was a good bright spot, you know. We faced a really good football team tonight and we’re not where we need to be from an execution standpoint, even an effort standpoint as well. I was disappointed with that at times but we’ll get better, we’ll learn from this.”

Quarterback Zeke Pegura found Grant Griffin on a 17-yard touchdown pass to put the Eddies up 6-0 over the Falcons with six minutes remaining in the first quarter. From that point on, it was all Falcons. West Catholic’s Charlie DeBruyn tallied three touchdowns — one a 35-yard pick-six — and Mike Murphy added two 3-yard scores while Connor Olszewski (7-yard run) and Carter Perry (7-yard pass from Alex Wickstrom) helped the Falcons take a 49-6 lead into halftime.

In the third quarter, West Catholic’s David Britenfield scored on a 15-yard touchdown run to push the lead to 56-6.

The Eddies continued to fight, with a 35-yard Keegan Parsons touchdown run in the third quarter rounding out the game’s scoring. Alex Rudolph led the team with five tackles and Zeke Pegura added three. Grant Griffin and Walker Karafa each added one tackle for loss.

The 2023 Eddies are both young and inexperienced, having graduated 28 seniors from last year’s Division 4 Semifinal team.

“It was a tough week one game for a young football team,” Purlee said. “We are a young, inexperienced football team but that’s okay. It’s a measuring stick for us and we’ll have a lot to learn.” 

According to Purlee, Edwardsburg returns zero starters on offense and three on defense.

“We’re still auditioning,” Purlee said. “We’ve got several halfbacks and we’re just still trying to figure out who our guys are a little bit. We’ve kind of narrowed it down somewhat but we’re still auditioning.”

At quarterback, both Pegura and Aydon Goorhouse took snaps in Friday’s game.

“They both looked good in practice,” Purlee said. We started Pegura at corner this week so we wanted to be able to use Boorhouse a little bit as well. We’ll see what happens going forward.”

The schedule does not let up for the Eddies (0-1), who travel to Chelsea (0-1) next week for a 7 p.m. showdown. The Bulldogs lost at home to Grand Rapids Northview 34-14. Edwardsburg may be without tight end and starting safety Zac Zache, who left the game with a face injury. 

“He’s one of our two-way guys,” Purlee. “We have a lot of two-way guys and I thought we were in pretty good shape but we wore down pretty quick. That happens when you face a team like that. They have big, physical kids and have great team speed. We wore down quickly; I don’t know if it was a lack of effort or just that we’re not in good enough shape. Losing Zache, that hurts.”