West Michigan Ironmen open the season with a 95-0 pummeling of Illinois Renegades

By Steve Gunn and Dave Hart

MUSKEGON – A big crowd of West Michigan Ironmen fans showed up at L.C. Walker Arena on Saturday night to see just how good the 2019 squad might be.

But there was no real way to tell, because the opening-night opponents, the Illinois Renegades, were really, really bad.

The Ironmen scored almost at will against the hapless Renegades, taking a 27-0 lead at the end of the first quarter, 47-0 at halftime and 72-0 after three quarters.

At the merciful end the score was 95-0 in favor of West Michigan.

Ironmen Coach Nate Smith noted that Illinois is not a member of the American Arena League, which the Ironmen joined this season, and that league opponents are likely to pose much more of a challenge.

The Ironmen will open their AAL schedule March 30 at home against the Indianapolis Enforcers.

“Sometimes you play a level of competition that’s maybe beneath where you want to be, but I was proud that our players remained focused and didn’t take plays off,” Smith said.

It was obvious from the get-go that the Ironmen, who have 16 players back from last year’s championship team, would get no competition from Illinois.

The Renegades kicked off to start the game, the ball only went 11 yards, and West Michigan’s Daryl Gooden returned it to the Illinois 3-yard line. Dakota Smith scored on a three-year run on the first play from scrimmage, and the romp was on.

The visitors appeared to have several major problems. The first was that their center had a very difficult time hiking the ball to the quarterback, who dropped back into the shotgun formation every play. Many of the snaps actually rolled on the ground to the QB, who had to pick it up and scramble.

BJ Foy moves the ball up field for West Michigan. Photo/Leo Valdez

He never got very far before he was creamed by the Ironmen defense.

Perhaps Illinois’ biggest issue was the lack of a punter. On four different occasions in the first half alone, the Renegades went for it on fourth-and-long, and failed to convert each time. The Ironmen took possession and scored each time.

Illinois’ other two first half possessions ended in an interception and a lost fumble – both of which also led to West Michigan touchdowns.

The Ironmen ran 10 offensive plays in the first half and scored touchdowns on seven.

The second half was more of the same.

The Ironmen kicked off and tackled the Illinois receiver in the end zone and got a point. On the same possession, the Illinois quarterback was tackled in the end zone for a safety.

On West Michigan’s first play from scrimmage, backup quarterback Travis Zajkowski threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Damien Moore.

On the ensuing kickoff, Illinois fumbled and the DJ Foy recovered in the end zone for another Ironmen touchdown. And so it went.

The Ironmen had 10 offensive plays in the second half and scored touchdowns on five.

Starting quarterback Alex Carder threw for 65 yards on 4-for-5 passing and three touchdowns while Carrington Thompson Sr. caught two passes for 45 yards and one touchdown.

Michael Malushi paced the Ironmen with 49 rushing yards on four carries and one touchdown while Smith ran for 27 yards on seven carries and four scores.

The Ironmen were led defensively by Zach Watts with five tackles.

Ironmen wide receiver Michael Malushi. Photo/Leo Valdez

Scoring summary
(Time after each score denotes time left in quarter)

First quarter
WM 13:56-Dakota Smith 3-yard run (Ronald Hotrum kick)  WM-7 Ill-0
WM 8:29-Alex Carder 5-yard run (kick failed)  WM-13 Ill-0
WM 4:44-Dakota Smith 2-yard run (kick failed)  WM-19 Ill-0
WM 1:26-Daryl Gooden 27-yard catch from Alex Carder (Kyle Connors run)  WM-27 Ill-0


Second quarter
WM 11:46-Carrington Thompson Sr. 28-yard catch from Alex Carder (Ronald Hotrum kick)  WM-34 Ill-0
WM 6:45-Dakota Smith 8-yard run (kick failed)  WM-40 Ill-0
WM 1:38-Carrington Thompson Sr. 17-yard catch from Alex Carder (Ronald Hotrum kick)  WM-47 Ill-0


Third quarter
WM 15:00-Tackle in end zone on kickoff  WM-48 Ill-0
WM 12:54-Team Safety (Ryan Armstrong) WM-50 Ill-0
WM 9:20-Damien Moore 33-yard catch from Travis Zakowski (Ronald Hotrum kick)  WM-57 Ill-0
WM 8:24-B.J. Foy recovered fumbled kickoff in end zone (Ronald Hotrum kick)  WM-64 Ill-0
WM :55–Dakota Smith 1-yard run (Ronald Hotrum kick)  WM-71 Ill-0
WM :43-Tackle in end zone on kickoff  WM-72 Ill-0


Fourth quarter
WM 13:50-Team Safety (Nick Dekraker)  WM-74 Ill-0
WM 11:22- B.J. Foy 38-yard kick return (Ronald Hotrum kick)  WM-81 Ill-0
WM 6:02-Nick Dekraker recovered fumble in end zone (Ronald Hotrum kick)  WM-88 Ill-0
WM 1:00–Michael Malishi 8-yard run (Ronald Hotrum kick)  WM-95 Ill-0


  1. Pam Angel

    March 10, 2019 at 12:21 pm

    The game I saw last night had another kicker playing in the second half.He is a local kid that works his ass off to get where he is today. Credit needs to be given to those who deserve it. From what I saw the first kicker was 2-7. Conrad Foss #8 kicked the second half,and was perfect on all his kicks, its a completely different number. I would ask your reporter how they could be that clueless to not notice a completely different number and player. The article needs to be changed,and an apology must be administered.Thank you.

    • Jason Goorman

      March 11, 2019 at 8:39 pm

      We go by the roster that is given to us at the game and Conrad Foss was not on the sheet.

      • John Foss

        March 12, 2019 at 11:44 pm

        He was the second kicker on he roster number 8. He played for Reeths Puffer and the. Went on to play at Lakeland University in Wisconsin. He was a 3 year starter while the team won 3 conference championship and made 3 NCAA play off appearances. He was able to convert all PATs in the second half and scored 2 UNOs ( a point given the kick off team for a tackle in5e end zone on a kick off).
        Proud Dad
        John Foss

      • John Foss

        March 12, 2019 at 11:45 pm

        He was the second kicker on he roster number 8. He played for Reeths Puffer and then went on to play at Lakeland University in Wisconsin. He was a 3 year starter while the team won 3 conference championship and made 3 NCAA play off appearances. He was able to convert all PATs in the second half and scored 2 UNOs ( a point given the kick off team for a tackle in5e end zone on a kick off).
        Proud Dad
        John Foss

  2. Tony

    March 10, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    Congratulations Michael Malushi you’re the best 💙💙💙

  3. Jonny

    March 10, 2019 at 2:03 pm

    Wooow Michael is good starter
    We proud you’re at our time

  4. Lony

    March 10, 2019 at 2:04 pm

    Congratulations for Michael

  5. Alissia

    March 10, 2019 at 2:08 pm

    My love 😍 congratulations to my bab Mike
    Love you forever 😘😘😘

  6. Mr.boby

    March 10, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    Very interesting game congratulations to ironmen
    Very good choice for Mr.Malushi we are proud he is at our team.

  7. Zack

    March 10, 2019 at 2:13 pm

    Omg 4 touches for 50 yardst soo proud of you boy Mike

  8. Dr.budy

    March 10, 2019 at 2:14 pm

    Congratulations ironmen .
    Please make more active the new kid Michael he deserves to play

  9. Jony

    March 10, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    Mr.Michael Malushi thank you for choosing our team
    God bless you

  10. Barba

    March 10, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    Marry me Michael Malushi 💸💸💸

  11. Zonr

    March 10, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    Congratulations ironmen…

  12. elton

    March 10, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    Congratulations brother Malushi
    God bless you………

  13. John

    March 10, 2019 at 10:42 pm

    Great game Ironmen

  14. Luiy

    March 10, 2019 at 10:54 pm

    Great game…

  15. Gery

    March 10, 2019 at 10:55 pm

    Congratulations 🎊

  16. Bush

    March 10, 2019 at 10:58 pm

    “The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination.”
    Congratulations ironmen

  17. Ruffson

    March 10, 2019 at 10:59 pm

    Michael Don’t measure yourself by what you have accomplished, but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.

  18. Duzzy

    March 10, 2019 at 11:04 pm

    Michael Malushi It’s not the disability that defines you; it’s how you deal with the challenges the disability presents you with. We have an obligation to the abilities we DO have, not the disability.

  19. Joy

    March 10, 2019 at 11:07 pm

    Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play

  20. Jonn

    March 10, 2019 at 11:46 pm

    who is 80?

Leave a Reply

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *