By Mitchell Boatman
MUSKEGON TWP. – New Orchard View head football coach Fred Rademacher had to wait a little longer than planned to get his Cardinal career started – but he didn’t have to wait long to celebrate his first win.
The Cardinals waited out a 30-minute lightning delay to start Thursday’s game, before topping Spring Lake 22-17 to open the season.
“It was worth the wait,” Rademacher said. “Life is good, winning is fun. It’s exciting for the community, it’s exciting for the team, it’s exciting for me. They’re having fun right now, that’s what it’s all about.”
Orchard View employed a balanced rushing attack to control the pace, led by junior Brendan Hyatt with 82 yards and a score on 20 carries.
“He played well, he’s practiced hard, he’s earned it,” Rademacher said about Hyatt. “The offensive line loves him and they’ll block for him, you saw that tonight. He’s a good kid and I’m impressed with what he did.”
The running game was boosted by the offensive line, including senior Dayton Rose, who moved inside after playing tight end as a junior.
“I liked it,” Rose said. “The boys worked hard up front, I was just a piece of the puzzle. It was a good night for our offensive line and a big night for our backs.”
The Lakers got the scoring started in the first quarter after forcing a turnover on downs defensively. Matt Bierman, who also plays on the line, connected on a 28-yard field goal to put Spring Lake up 3-0 with 5:56 remaining in the first quarter.
The Cardinals responded on the next drive, marching 80 yards on 11 plays, capped by a 2-yard touchdown run by quarterback Owen Swanson. The QB then found Edmari Mitchell in the end zone with a conversion pass to make it 8-3 with 34 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Lakers turned the ball over on the second play of the second quarter when Hyatt pounced on a fumble. On the ensuing possession for OV, Hyatt punched in a three -yard touchdown. After Swanson converted the two-point try on the ground, OV led 16-3 with 8:47 left until halftime. That score held until the half.
“I saw the ball pop out and I just jumped on it,” said Hyatt, who added that the defensive play meant more to him than the touchdown. “Definitely the fumble recovery, getting the ball back. I don’t get the touchdown without the fumble recovery.”
Neither team found the end zone in the third quarter, but Zach Keyser ran in a 2-yard score on the opening play of the fourth quarter to cut Spring Lake’s deficit to 16-10.
The Cardinals responded with a 17-play, 78-yard drive that took more than 8:30 off the clock. It was capped off by Swanson’s second touchdown, a 1-yard run. The two-point conversion attempt failed, making it 22-10 with 3:23 to play.
Spring Lake put together one last drive with Zach Mitchell under center, going 80 yards in 11 plays. Mitchell threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Alex Fleshing with 46 seconds left to make it 22-17.
The onside kick attempt was recovered by Orchard View, which ended the game with a pair of kneel-downs.
Spring Lake head coach Dan Start saw things to build on in his team’s opener.
“We’re just trying to figure out who we are,” he said. “ I thought we responded well, we challenged them after halftime. I’m happy with (winning the second half). We’ll build on it.”
Keyser and Mitchell shared time at quarterback for Spring Lake, and Start says both bring things to the table for the offense.
“They both give us different dynamics,” Start said. “Keyser is such a great leader, he does some great things and gets the offense operating really well. He throws the ball well. With Zach Mitchell, he’s a bit of a wild card. He’s a firecracker. You put him in there and he just wants to run around and make plays.”
Hyatt led OV with 82 yards rushing. Alex Andrews ran for 64 yards on 11 carries and Edmari Mitchell totaled 42 yards on 10 rushes. Rose, the offensive lineman, had a big game defensively as well, with double digit tackles.
Zach Mitchell rushed for 51 yards on 10 carries and completed 4 of 7 passes for 57 yards and a touchdown for Spring Lake. Keyser was 2-for-7 for 15 yards passing and ran for 40 yards. Aidan Carlson was the leading receiver with 27 yards.