January 22, 2018

Tri-City Area Sports

Thursday, August 18, 2016

w armchair quarterbackTri-City Record Armchair Quarterbacks return for another season of football

By Kristy Noack

Six familiar faces return as armchair quarterbacks for the 2016 football season. Analyzing data, researching teams, and comparing stats to determine the winner of select football games will be RoxAnn Rodney-Isbrecht, Tom Gear, Tim Hildebrand, Greg Krell, Rodney Lynch, and Chris Leach. All six AQB return from a summer hiatus with the will to win and clinch the top spot in the Tri-City Record challenge. Last year, Rodney-Isbrecht, the Hartford City Clerk, rode the swell of superb game picks much of the season; she posted a 114-50 record and won the championship on the tie-breaker guess in the Super Bowl. She also held onto the top spot much of the season and faced challenges from Lynch, Gear, Hildebrand, and Krell at one time or another. With her victory in her first season of play, look for Rodney-Isbrecht to start out – and stay – hot this season. Gear, owner of Tri-County Computers in Watervliet, a previous AQB winner, also posted a 114-50 record. Although he got off to a slow start, Gear gobbled up the wins as the season began to draw to a close and tied Rodney-Isbrecht. He lost the Super Bowl tie-breaker and had to settle for an oh, so close second place.  Third place went to Tim Hildebrand of Hardings in Hartford. Hildebrand hovered near the top of the leaderboard for part of the season and was always one good week of picks away from claiming the lead. Hildebrand was just four games behind the leader, with a record of 111-53. Greg Krell, of the Watervliet Athletic Boosters, used his football knowledge to post a healthy 111-53 record as well. He tied Hildebrand in the standings, but fell to fourth place when the tie-breaker was used in the Super Bowl game. Krell analyzed and studied his way to the top of the pack for a good portion of the season, and it was only the late season picks that spelled doom for his championship title hunt. Rodney Lynch, of the Loma Theater in Coloma, predicted his way to a 103-61 record and fifth place finish. Lynch truly enjoys picking the winners and playing the AQB game. He needed just a few more games to go his way. Expect him to lead the field at some point this upcoming season. Chris Leach may have ended the 2015 season in sixth place, but she is the number one supporter of the local high school football programs. She picks Coloma, Hartford, and Watervliet to win, without fail, no matter who they play. Until they play each other. She is a hometown football fan and not ashamed to show it. Her 100-64 record was only 14 games from the top, and she always guessed with her heart. It will be another exciting year for the TCR AQBs. The season begins with games on Thursday, August 25. Next week, the quarterbacks will give you their predictions from the following match-ups:

Coloma at Schoolcraft

Hartford at Watervliet

Marshall at Benton Harbor

South Haven at Sturgis

Battle Creek Central at Lakeshore

Eau Claire at Galesburg-Augusta

Bangor at Marcellus

Bloomingdale at Lawton

The tie-breaker game will be Hartford at Watervliet. Our super six will need to determine just how many points will be scored as the Indians face the Panthers in the teams’ season opener. Welcome back to football, fans!

Smooth skiing by Grand City Skiers leads to grand show for spectatorsKRISTY NOACK PRESS BOX HEADER 7-2014

 Sunday’s weather proved ideal for both the Grand City Skiers and spectators alike. With blue skies shining and nary a breeze, the Grand City Skiers gathered in Paw Paw Lake and put on quite a water skiing show for the crowd of hundreds nestled on the grounds of the Paw Paw Lake Yacht Club and in the boats that bobbed in the water.  The non-profit group, founded in 1985, defines its purpose as “to promote the sport of water skiing through group participation, ski shows, learn-to-ski clinics, U 2 Can Ski disability clinics, tournaments, and associated recreational activities.”  The group also works to promote water skiing safety through community events, like the one sponsored by the Paw Paw Lake Association Sunday.  This marks the third consecutive year the ski show has made an appearance at the PPLYC.  The GCS water ski show was called the Grand City Olympics. The skiers performed leaps, acrobatic moves while racing across the water, pyramids, and more. Between skiing adventures, an emcee worked the crowd, giving away t-shirts, explaining moves on the water, and telling jokes.  A great time was had by all, and the good news is the GCS plan on returning to PPLYC next year!

WONDERFUL WATER SKI SHOW…The Grand City Skiers performed Sunday at the Paw Paw Lake Yacht Club to the delight of hundreds of specta-tors. The group performed acrobatic moves on the waves and in the air. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

WONDERFUL WATER SKI SHOW…The Grand City Skiers performed Sunday at the Paw Paw Lake Yacht Club to the delight of hundreds of spectators. The group performed acrobatic moves on the waves and in the air.
(TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

Young Hartford Football team readies for opener against Watervliet

 The 2016 season of football for the Hartford Indians program is focused on one word: rebuilding. The sport starts its season with their second new head coach in two years. Last year, Jason Fiacco took the helm of the team and led the squad to a 5-5 finish.   It was a rough start in 2015 for the Indians. The team opened the season with a three-game loss, including the season opener at home against Watervliet.  That three-game skid led to some regrouping and both the offense and defense began to click in week four.  Hartford rolled to a five-game winning streak, topping Gobles, Bangor, Lawton, Galesburg-Augusta, and Eau Claire. The team then lost to Constantine in the regular season and Cassopolis in the playoffs.  Fiacco stepped down as coach at the end of the season. The Hartford Athletic Department, now led by Nick Blackmer, did not need to look too far for Fiacco’s replacement.  Ben Kain will spend his first year under the headset for Hartford. But, this is not Kain’s first brush with coaching. He was a running backs and assistant football coach at Hope College.  According to Kain, it has been a smooth transition taking over the reins of Hartford football. “It’s been great to develop the program as a whole. The program has really changed into being a family that embraces the grind; having Nick Blackmer as the new AD has really eased the transition from the college level.”  The Indians graduated 15 players from the 2015 squad. But, they have stacked 20 newcomers to the team. For the past few years, football numbers dropped due to the popularity of the school’s soccer program, but it appears that has leveled off.  The team, as you can imagine, is young. Kain’s impression of the team as a whole has been, “they work relentlessly.”  He considers the squad’s “all around athleticism and their relentless effort” as their overwhelming strength.  Kain has slotted Evan Parker and Garrod Johnson in as quarterbacks for the team. Neither individual has started as a varsity QB before, so expect some growing pains on the field.  While Kain is working with the team to build their size, strength, and stamina, he knows that is a long process. The Indians goal for the season is simple, “to outwork everyone,” stated Kain.  Hartford will once again open the season against Watervliet. This time the game, to be played on Friday, August 26 at 7:00 p.m., will be held at Panther Stadium, and it is a game Kain and his crew is looking forward to.  The team’s home opener will kick off on Thursday, September 1 against Delton-Kellogg. The Indians will then settle into regular Friday night games against Schoolcraft (on 9/9), a three-game home stand against Gobles (9/16), Bangor (9/23 – Homecoming), and Galesburg-Augusta (9/30) before three weeks on the road. The team will wind down their regular season at Lawton (10/7), Eau Claire (10/14), and Constantine (10/21).  Everyone who sports the green and white is settling in – again – to see how the first year coach and new, young team perform. It will be a wait-and-see year for fans. But, Hartford players, fans, and community support their team like no other. And, as Kain said, “Development is slow but the future is bright.”

Coloma Football: ready, willing, able

STEPHENS LEADING COMETS INTO NEW SEASON… Joe Stephens re-turns as Coloma’s varsity foot-ball head coach and is excited for the upcoming football sea-son. Stephens gives the TCR readers a preview of the Com-ets; their season and strengths in this week’s Press Box column. (TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

STEPHENS LEADING COMETS INTO NEW SEASON… Joe Stephens re-turns as Coloma’s varsity football head coach and is excited for the upcoming football sea-son. Stephens gives the TCR readers a preview of the Comets; their season and strengths in this week’s Press Box column.
(TCR photo by Kristy Noack)

Second-year varsity football coach Joe Stephens is excited about the 2016 Comet squad, with good reason.  Following a disastrous 1-8 regular season in 2014, Stephens took charge of a young, unfocused team who suffered through coaching changes, much like their Southwestern Athletic Conference opponent Hartford.  Stephens and the Comets moved from the Wolverine Conference into the SAC, restarted the rivalry against Watervliet, and won three games, all in Stephens first year at the helm.  Last year was a rebuilding year for Coloma. After hitting a five-game losing streak right out of the gate, the Comets began to gel and won three out of their last four games – and they posted some big numbers along the way.  The team scored 55 points against Fennville, 33 against Kalamazoo Hackett, and blanked Eau Claire 41-0.  The tide certainly turned for Coloma, and this year they intend to reap the benefits even though they are introducing 20 new players to the team.  Stephens said, “Our team is extremely young this year. We only return six players from last year’s varsity. The young guys are skilled and mature. I think that we will be a really tough team to beat late in the season.”  With so many rookies on the team, Stephens knows full well that patience will be key. He is also depending on his seniors, after graduating 21 players from last year’s squad. Stephens is excited about the members of the Comet football team, with good reason.  “Zane Lute’s senior leadership has gotten us off to a good start in practice. There is no one more dedicated to Coloma football than him. Senior Caleb McDaniel will start at corner and halfback. He has grown up a lot in the last four years and is focused on having a great senior season,” Stephens shared.  “Tevon Blazier is a junior that has come up and immediately established himself as the vocal leader of our defense. He plays strong safety and multiple positions on offense. His football IQ is off the charts.  “Junior Jamane Smith will be a difference maker on our defensive line. His athleticism will provide a match-up problem for some teams. He and sophomore Zach Lake will team up to replace Anthony Adkins at our fullback position.  “Junior Robbie Schroeder has made himself into a quality split end. His size and jumping ability allows him to go get jump balls. More importantly, he is a selfless kid that works very hard as a perimeter blocker.  “Juniors Matt Davis, Brandon Sutherland, Billy Boyd, Rickie McClain and freshman Cole Alsup will be replacing an offensive line that lost all of its starters to graduation.  “Sophomore Zach Goodline gives our team its quiet swagger. He is cool under pressure and is able to find ways to make good plays happen when things break down around him. He does a lot of things that you just can’t coach.”   Stephens has witnessed a change in the football atmosphere at Coloma. One of their top three goals this season is to be excellent teammates to each other and represent the community well. The squad also wants to be more competitive than last year’s team. More importantly, the team wants to qualify for the playoffs.  To do that, Stephens realizes where the team needed improvement over last year’s squad. “Ball security has been a huge emphasis (this year) for us.  It was really the reason behind our bad start last year, and its improvement was the reason behind our strong finish. We need to win the turnover battle if we want to be a threat to make the playoffs,” he stated.  “For the first time in Coloma since 2012, the entire coaching staff from the junior high to the varsity returns. Our kids will be mastering things that they already understand, as opposed to learning an entirely new system again,” Stephens said. Maintaining a seamless football program from junior varsity to varsity will offer many benefits for both the players and coaches.  Coloma opens their season Thursday, August 25 on the road against Schoolcraft. A two-game home stand follows, as the Comets welcome Gobles (9/1) and Watervliet (9/9). The game against the Panthers is one Stephens is looking forward to. “It will be good to host Watervliet this year in week three. The atmosphere at their place last year was electric, and I look forward to seeing an atmosphere like that at our place.”  The team will travel to Constantine (9/16) and Delton-Kellogg (9/23) before returning home for games against Fennville (9/30 – Homecoming) and Kalamazoo Hackett (10/7).  The Comets face Lawton on 10/14 and close their season at home on 10/21 against Eau Claire.   “A lot of people think that we are another year away from having a good team. Our guys want to prove that they have what it takes to be special this year,” Stephens said. I would politely disagree. It sounds like Coloma football is back in a big way this year.

Harvest Hustle registration open

 Before we know it, the ice scrapers will make an appearance and the snow will be flying. Here is one of your final chances to get a 5k or 10k event in 2016. Sign up now for the Coloma Athletic Booster’s Pumpkin Harvest Hustle.  The Hustle will be held Saturday, October 15 at 9:00 a.m. and offers a 5k run or walk and 10k run. The Jollay Orchard course, located at 1850 Friday Road in Coloma, will thread through orchards and pumpkin patches.  The 10k run will feature a half road/half trail course.  There is also a free family fun run at 10:15 a.m.  You can register online at runsignup.com/Race/Mi/Coloma/PumpkinHarvestHustle5kRunWalk10kRun or on the day of the race beginning at 7:00 a.m. The  registration fee is $20 until October 4. After that, expect to pay a higher fee.  The course will feature many Halloween themed stations, and there is a cash prize costume contest for those who would like to participate by wearing their favorite gorilla or Batman suit or the like. Race awards will be doled out beginning at 10:00 a.m.  Sponsored by the Coloma Athletic Boosters, the profits from the race will be used to renovate the Coloma High School weight and workout room. Help support Coloma athletics; sign up today!

Michigan high school sports participation in top ten

 The Michigan High School Athletic Association reported that the state ranked seventh nationally in the total number of high school sports participants. This marks the eighth year in a row Michigan has placed within the top ten.  According to a press release by MHSAA, “Michigan’s participation ranking was based on…126,160 girls and 169,276 boys taking part” in high school sports activities.  The student athlete is counted once for each sport in which they are a member of the team. Girls bowling moved from fourth place to third place in the participation ranking. Wrestling improved to seventh on the list.  Competitive cheer, girl’s track and field, and baseball all fell by one spot on the ranking. Competitive cheer moved to sixth, track and field fell to eighth, and baseball dropped to seventh.  Nationally, participation in high school sports for 2015-16 set a record with 7,868,900 student athletes participating in at least one sport. This was a new record and an increase of 61,853 from the 2014-15 school year.  According to MHSAA, football is the most played sport (1,083,308 participants) in the state.


pit stop header 07-10-2014 kristy noackNASCAR season in review; racing resumes Saturday at Bristol

 NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers and teams had the weekend off, giving everyone a breather between Watkins Glen and this Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.  Racing resumes under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee on August 20. The half-mile oval short track was built in 1961 and is celebrating its 55th anniversary this year.  With 22 races complete and in the records books, the following twelve drivers have at least one victory to their name for the 2016 season. Multiple victories are noted in parenthesis: Denny Hamlin (4), Jimmie Johnson (2), Brad Keselowski (4), Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch (4), Carl Edwards (2), Matt Kenseth (2), Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Tony Stewart, and Chris Buescher.  Hamlin kicked off this year’s racing season by winning the Daytona 500 in February during week one. He followed that up with a victory two weeks ago at Watkins Glen in week 22.  Keselowski leads the overall driver standings with 727 points.  Harvick is hot on his heels with 718 points and a lock – right now – on second place.  Kurt Busch rolls into the standings with 689 points, good for third place. Kyle Busch trails his brother in fourth place by 19 points. Edwards is in fifth place in the overall standings with 653 points.  There are only four more races left in the Sprint Cup “regular season” before the Chase begins. Each race winner has made their mark by claiming a Chase spot, except for Chris Buescher. Now, it is more than likely that he will get in by hovering above 30th place, but it is not guaranteed just yet.  Buescher, Ryan Newman, and Chase Elliott are close to cinching spots with Austin Dillon just out of reach.  Saturday’s run at Bristol will be make it or brake (pun intended) it for the drivers who are winless this season. Expect to see plenty of bumping along the way in the 23rd race of 2016.