By Greg Gielczyk

In an up-and-down season, the Ludington football team finished the 2021 campaign on a downer when the Orioles lost a 25-0 game to North Muskegon on the road Friday night.

The Orioles completed the nine-game schedule with a 3-6 record, and are clearly not going to be extending its seaon in the MHSAA playoffs.

But, there were some promising signs.

“I thought at times we played pretty solid football, especially the last two weeks,” Orioles head coach Charlie Gunsell said. “It certainly did not carry over to tonight.

“Part of that was North Muskegon did a tremendous job defensively. They made it really difficult for us to move the ball, or string a bunch of good plays together.”

North Muskegon is hoping that the new playoff selection system that rewards strength of schedule will prove to be enough to get them in at 4-5.

Sophomore quarterback Ben Meyers, who was quarterbacking the junior varsity last year, continued his sterling play for the Norse, burning the Orioles with his legs.

Meyers scored three touchdowns, two on six-yard runs, the first coming with 2:40 left in the first quarter. It proved to be the points the Norsemen needed.

But he wasn’t finished, scoring on another six-yard scamper at the 8:19 mark of the second quarter and tacked on a 45-yard scamper for good measure as the Norsemen took an 18-0 lead at the half.

The Norsemen scored their last touchdown with 6:16 left in regulation, as Bo Nedeau toted the ball in from two yards out.

North Muskegon had 213 yards of total offense while holding the Orioles to 183.

Meyers ran for a team-high 110 yards on 16 attempts, while Nick Dana added 57 yards on 10 carries.

Defensive leaders for North Muskegon were Kelty Blastic who had six tackles, while Matt Colbert, Sam Gallo and Champ Young each had four.

Ludington quarterback Trey Forfinski completed 4-of-15 passes for 74 yards, and also led the Orioles in rushing with 47 yards on 16 carries. Stephen Weinert rushed for 19 yards on five attempts, Aiden Gilchrist had 16 on five tries and Nathan Gilchrist had 11 on two attempts.

Aric Storm led the Orioles on defense with eight tackles and two for loss, Levi Laman also had eight tackles, Gage Jones and Weinert each had six stops and Aiden Gilchrist five.

“We’re incredibly young,” Gunsell said. “We graduate 13 seniors, but we only graduate four starters. We bring back nine out of 11 defensively, and we bring back eight ¬†out of 11 on offense, and one of those guys is a two-way player.

“We’re excited about the future, but our biggest thing is we just have to become a stronger football team from top to bottom in order to compete in the West Michigan Conference.”

Ludington played two WMC teams this season, and was outscored, 74-0.

“I saw a lot of young kids do a lot of awesome things this year. We just need more consistency.”