By Shawn Liverance
Local Sports Journal
The North Muskegon football team showed signs on Friday night it will be much improved this season.
The Norse just couldn’t sustain enough consistency on both sides of the ball and lost 34-13 to the Calvin Christian Squires at Fred Jacks Field.
“We played well in spurts, but we couldn’t sustain our physicality,” said Mike Belmonte, who was making his debut as head coach of the Norsemen. “We are a young team with a lot to learn about winning, but I am confident we will get there.”
A pair of touchdowns three minutes apart in the third quarter were too much for the Norsemen to overcome.
Trailing 13-6 with 5 minutes left in the third quarter, Calvin Christian quarterback Andrew Woodfin hit Zach Hofman on a 15-yard touchdown pass.
Calvin Christian then executed a successful onside kick. and eight plays later, Woodfin scored from 2 yards out giving the Squires a 27-6 lead.
The Norsemen did manage to cut the Calvin Christian lead to 27-13 on Holden Vanderweele’s 3-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter, but NM’s second turnover of the final quarter sealed the win for the Squires.
The Norsemen attempted a hook-and-ladder play, but the ball was fumbled into the end zone where Jason Nagelkirk jumped on it for a Calvin Christian score.
The North Muskegon defense created six Calvin Christian turnovers, but turned the ball over four times.
“Overall our defense did not finish their tackles,” Belmonte said. “Our hips were too high and it comes down to blocking and tackling.”
One player who did shine for the North Muskegon defense was Jack Gautraud.
The senior cornerback intercepted a pair of passes and also recovered a fumble.
“I thought I played a good game, but it is about the team,” said Gautraud, who also finished with five tackles. “We can play defense better than what we did tonight and we will.”
Calvin Christian quarterback Woodfin turned out to be the difference as the senior displayed a good arm and was elusive running the ball.
Woodfin rushed for 134 yards on eight carries and scored a pair of touchdowns, while also tossing a touchdown pass.
“Give him (Woodfin) his due,” Belmonte said. “We just were never able to get to him.”
Woodfin did throw four interceptions as Adam Edick and Adrian Anderson also collected interceptions for the Norsemen.
“We knew they were a passing team and we made some plays,” Gautraud said. “We just didn’t make enough of them and it cost us.”
Calvin Christian outgained the Norsemen 285-176 in Anderson’s first game as starting quarterback.
Anderson was 7-of-20 passing for 27 yards and three interceptions in his debut.
“You have to remember that it was Adrian’s first game ever playing quarterback,” Belmonte said. “He has a lot to learn, but I am confident he is the man we want there and he will get better.”
Anderson did kick field goals of 22 and 26 yards and was the leading tackler for the Norsemen with seven stops.
Nick Duplissis led North Muskegon’s rushers with 15 carries for 87 yards, while also adding one pass reception for 11 yards.
Sam Powell and Chase Cooke both caught three passes each to lead the Norsemen receivers.
The Norsemen will look to rebound next week when they open up West Michigan Conference play by hosting Shelby.
“We have a tough team coming up,” Belmonte said. “I am looking for huge improvements between the first week and the second week.”