By Fred Inglis
HESPERIA – The Golden Football trophy is staying home.
First-year head coach and Hesperia alum Doug Bolles never lost to Holton as a player, and he said winning the Golden Trophy was nearly as important as coming back from a disappointing loss to Morley- Stanwood in last week’s conference opener.
“Last week opened our eyes,” admitted Bolles, whose team is now 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the Central State Activities Association Silver Division. “This week we went back to fundamentals. You go to work during the week and you get paid on Friday night. Tonight we got a huge paycheck.”
The Hesperia running game was clicking on all cylinders, producing 516 yards and seven touchdowns.
A pair of junior tailbacks led the way. Gerrit Yates racked up 205 yards on just nine carries. His 80-yard scamper in the fourth quarter was his second TD of the game.
Junior Kanin Witte also had the biggest game of his young career, rushing for 123 yards on eight carries, with three touchdowns. He scored from 2, 1 and 56 yards out and also added a 10-yard TD catch.
Six different Panthers rushed for more than 50 yards, including sophomore Jake Klemundt. He touched the ball just once and turned it into a 58-yard score.
“This feels pretty good,” said Witte, whose team had a 34-6 halftime lead. “I owe it all to my line. Once I broke free I just opened up the jets and hoped nobody would catch me. We gotta keep that trophy here for hopefully a long time.”
Panthers senior quarterback Brendan McAree also contributed, completing 3 of his 4 passes for 68 yards and one touchdown.
“This is the biggest game of our season,” said McAree, who also had an interception on defense. “It’s fun playing against these guys. We don’t like each other, I guess. Now we’re going to use this to turn our season around.”
Holton managed one sustained drive, just before halftime. Senior running back Brandon Epplett capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive with a 5-yard TD reception from senior quarterback Blake Fialek.
The Red Devils gained only 41 yards on the ground in the game.
Holton had more experienced starting players, but head coach Jack Nummerdor said his team fell because it lost the battle in the trenches.
“They beat us up at the front line,” said Nummerdor, whose team is now 1-3 and 0-2 in the CSAA Silver. “And that’s where games are won and lost. But we can’t let this keep us down. We’ve got to be mentally stronger.”
Fialek had 10 completions on 22 passing attempts for 127 yards and one touchdown for Holton.
The Panthers won the Golden Football trophy for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. They are 33-18 versus Holton since the schools started the trophy tradition in 1964.