By Greg Gielczyk

MANISTEE – Manistee junior Max Miles returned the opening kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown and the Chippewas never looked back in a 54-6 season-opening win against Holton at Chippewa Field on Friday in a West Michigan Conference crossover matchup.

Manistee exploded for several big plays on offense and cruised into the first half break with a commanding 35-0 lead, and the Chippewas’ defense stifled the Red Devils offense.

“We have a number of backs back that I can put back there with speed,” said Manistee head coach Troy Bytwork. “I really think we’re seven, eight deep in that running back position.

“They’re all different in their own sort of way, but they’re all pretty fast. That certainly helps you get off the snide, so to speak. It set a nice tone.”

Trevor Spencer ended the night as the Chippewas leading rusher with 124 yards and two touchdowns on just six carries. Kaden Kott had five carries for 87 yards. Manistee had 338 yards rushing overall.

Junior running back Nick Hornkohl got into the act for Manistee when he clicked off a 22-yard touchdown run with 10:12 left in the first quarter, and then Miles scored on a 30-yard run to make it 20-0 with 1:24 still to play in the opening quarter.

The Chippewas’ lead ballooned to 28-0 after Hornkohl scored for the second time as well, busting through the Red Devils defense for a 27-yard run at the 8:14 mark of the second period.

Kott, who did not play on defense even though he had four interceptions a year ago as a freshman, ran one in from 10 yards out for a 35-0 cushion at half.

“It was a tough night, but we weren’t very prepared coming off the bus,” said Holton head coach Tommy Moore. “For some of those guys, it was their first varsity road trip, so we came out a little flat.

“Then we found ourselves clawing back. Second half we really regrouped. We said ‘Let’s see who we are as people, and how we respond when there’s adversity at our back.’ They responded very well.”

But the Chippewas had built a 54-0 lead and there was a running clock by the time the Red Devils avoided the shutout in the fourth quarter.

Senior quarterback Jeff Huber, in his third season as the starter under center, connected with junior Matthew Thies on a 50-yard strike with 11:49 showing on the clock in the final period to hike the Chippewas lead to 42-0.

Manistee extended its lead to 48-0 on a 22-yard run by Spencer, and he went in from 35 yards out for the final TD before the Red Devils scored on an 18-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Chase Albright to junior tight end Hunter Zang.

“We were able to drive toward the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, finally get into the end zone and had couple of stops,” Moore said.

“It was nice to see them actually respond to adversity. Last season they had five wins and ended up going to the playoffs. They had a really good senior group that graduated, so we knew we’d have a bunch of inexperienced kids coming in on Friday nights.”

Trevor Adamczak paced the defense for Manistee with 10 tackles, while Braydon Sorenson had eight tackles and one for loss. Caden VanSickle finished with five tackles, two for loss.

Manistee travels to Mason County Central to open Lakes Division play in the WMC while Holton plays Perry in a non-conference game at home next Thursday.


All photos below are courtesy of LSJ photographer Greg Gielczyk