By Andrew Johnson

MUSKEGON – If fans hadn’t noticed the resurgence of the Orchard View football program before Friday night, they certainly will after the Cardinals’ 36-19 Lake 8 Activities Conference opening victory over Muskegon Catholic.

Perhaps the biggest statement by Orchard View came in the beginning of the fourth quarter when the Cardinals went 72 yards over 15 plays, taking 8:15 off the clock.

OV running back Edmari Mitchell capped off the drive with a nine-yard rushing touchdown, and Owen Swanson found Hayden Stanfield for the two-point conversion, giving the Cardinals a 36-11 lead.

“That’s who we are,” said Cardinals first-year head coach Fred Rademacher, who has led Orchard View to a 3-0 record for the first time since 2006. “We’re going to come out and we’re going to pound you. That’s the kind of football we’re going to play, so that was a statement of who we are.”

Edmari Mitchell fights off the MCC defense on the rush. Photo/Michael Banka

Rademacher wasn’t wrong about pounding the rock, because Orchard View finished with 301 total rushing yards on 39 carries for a 7.7 yards per carry average.

“The offensive line did a tremendous job,” said Cardinals quarterback Owen Swanson, who finished with 90 rushing yards on eight carries. “We couldn’t have done anything without them.”

Orchard View scored on six of its seven possessions. The Cardinals’ lone non-scoring possession was a quarterback kneel that brought the game to halftime.

The scoring started when OV running back Brendan Hyatt broke loose for a 39-yard touchdown run just over two minutes into the game, giving the Cardinals a 6-0 lead.

Muskegon Catholic responded with a 23-yard field goal by Carson St. Amour with 47 seconds left in the opening quarter to cut the Crusader deficit to 6-3.

In the second quarter, Swanson scored on a 50-yard run and Alex Andrews punched in an eight-yard touchdown to give Orchard View a 20-3 halftime lead.

Orchard View extended its lead to 28-3 with 6:25 left in the third quarter when Swanson found Mitchell on a 17-yard touchdown pass, and Brendan Nelson converted the two-point conversion run.

Muskegon Catholic finished the third quarter scoring with a six-yard touchdown pass from Max Price to Tiovanni Knight. The two-point conversion run by Price was good, cutting the Orchard View lead to 28-11.

Following the Mitchell touchdown run and two-point conversion that made the score 36-11, Muskegon Catholic found the end zone again when Price hit St. Amour on a nine-yard touchdown pass and Knight punched in the conversion with 1:10 remaining.

Hyatt led all rushers in the game with 92 yards on 11 carries while Mitchell finished with 79 yards on 10 carries. On top of finishing with 90 rushing yards, Swanson 2-for-2 passing for 56 yards and one touchdown.

Muskegon Catholic was led by Price, who completed 8 of 15 passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. He also had 50 yards on the ground on 11 carries. Convertini led the MCC receivers with 72 yards on three receptions.

On defense, Andrews paced Orchard View with 13 tackles while Muskegon Catholic was led by Solomon Waller with 11 tackles.

Muskegon Catholic drops to 1-2 overall and will travel to Ludington next week, while the Cardinals will travel to Belding.