By Andrew Johnson
MUSKEGON TOWNSHIP – Opposing defenses gearing up to stop the Orchard View Cardinals this season have a bit of a problem.
OV distributes the ball pretty evenly among three talented runners in the offensive backfield, leaving defenders guessing about who will emerge out of the deceptive Wing T offense.
The triple attack has worked wonders for Orchard View, which only won two games last season, but has roared out of the gates with a 3-0 record in 2019.
Thus far the highlight of the season for the Cardinals was last Friday’s 36-19 victory over traditional power Muskegon Catholic in an early Lakes 8 Conference showdown on the Crusaders’ home field.
This is the first time Orchard View has been 3-0 in football since the 2006 season, and the players and fans are definitely excited.
“It feels amazing, it just feels amazing,” junior quarterback Owen Swanson said after Friday’s victory. “It means a lot because we’ve made a statement and we’ve let people know we’re coming.”
OV’s dangerous backfield includes two juniors and a senior.
Junior running back Brendan Hyatt leads the Cardinals with 295 yards and two touchdowns on 43 carries, while Swanson has 214 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries.
The elder of the group, senior Edmari Mitchell, has 255 yards and four touchdowns on 34 carries.
The balance of the Cardinals’ running game was obvious last week against Muskegon Catholic, when they piled up 301 yards on the ground on 39 carries for an average of a 7.7 yards per carry. Hyatt had 92 of those yards, Swanson ran for 90 and Mitchell contributed 79.
“They’re a diverse group,” said first year Orchard View head coach Fred Rademacher about the triple running attack. “Hyatt is our fullback and is a little smaller and shiftier. He hits the trap really well. Edmari is a big physical guy who pounds the ball off tackle, and Owen is becoming a mechanic on the e
The value of the diverse running styles isn’t lost on Swanson.
“I think each and every one of us has a good style,” said the quarterback, who has started at the varsity level since the second game of his freshman season. “Once you stop one of us, we have another one to come right at you.”
While the group is enjoying the success, Swanson was quick to credit the OV offensive line for the holes it has created. The Cardinals are led up front by linemen Hayden Stanfield, Joshua Ellcey, Dayton Rose, Jordan Tuttle, Xavier Ruiz, Jayce Allen and Dominic Baushke.
“Our offensive line has been very impressive,” Swanson said. “We wouldn’t be where we are without them. They’re truly the heart of our offense.”
Swanson said team chemistry has also played a role in the team’s early success.
“We’re a pretty good group together,” he said. “We talk all the time and work together in school. That bond is good because it helps us out on the field and really makes us a stronger group.”
OV will be tested again on Friday night when the Cardinals travel to Belding to face a traditional power that is coming off three straight playoff appearances.
The OV players are expecting a large crowd of fans to follow them on the road, due to the excitement at school and in the community.
“The attitude and excitement has been better,” Swanson said. “We’re still being humble and making sure we listen to the right people, but it just gives us confidence. It means a lot to us that people are showing up and care about us and want us to succeed.”