Varsity football shuts out Northview for the second time since 2019

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The last time FHC shut out an OK White Conference opponent was on September 27, 2019. This past Friday, the Rangers shut the Northview Wildcats out 45-0—the same team they held to zero two short years ago.

“The first thing you have to do if you want to go to playoffs and do well is win your conference, so that’s the first goal we have every year,” head coach Tim Rogers said. “We are starting off on the right foot by having a nice win here in game number one in the conference.”

Coming into the game, Northview and Byron Center were the only undefeated OK White teams left standing at 2-0. This alone would get any team chomping at the bit to beat Northview. However, it also doesn’t help that FHC and Northview have had a strained relationship for the past few years. With words such as “hate” and “dislike” being tossed around by Wildcat players, Friday’s game was primed to be a chippy affair. 

“Going into the game, we already knew they were gonna be talking smack and playing dirty,” senior Tyler Weaver, who recorded eight tackles and a pick, said. “They had a skilled wide receiver corps that would talk all game no matter what the outcome of the play was.”

That “skilled wide receiver corps,” led by senior Jalen Charity, was tested early by FHC’s elite athletes in the secondary, especially senior corner Jacob Bonnett. Tasked with shadowing Jalen, Jacob had to make sure the 6’5” wideout didn’t find a mismatch in the secondary. On the ninth play of the game, Jalen cut inside and was picked up by senior linebacker Tyler Weaver, allowing for FHC’s defense to focus its efforts on the deep ball instead of lasering in on Jalen. Backpedaling back, Jacob baited Northview quarterback Matt Toole into a bad throw across his body. Jacob waited patiently for Toole to throw it and then jumped on the opportunity. Once he realized Toole’s throw would go over the head of senior Quentin Rudolph, he adjusted his path to get back to the ball. At almost the perfect time, Jacob swooped in to pick off the errant throw. The play didn’t die there, as Jacob turned around and stiff-armed his way to a 27-yard interception return. Junior quarterback Justin Osterhouse and the FHC offense found themselves in excellent field position on Northview’s 20-yard line.

Since the start of the season, FHC’s go-to play has been a jet-sweep handoff to Jacob Bonnett. It opened up the floodgates for the Rangers in their first game of the season against Jenison, and it hasn’t failed since. 

So, with four yards to go until the end zone, the Ranger offense ran its bread and butter play. 

While he sat in the slot, Jacob prepared himself to take off when Justin motioned him over. At the snap of the ball, senior guard Carter Kelly pulled over to block for Jacob, as did sophomore halfback JT Hartman. Jacob secured the handoff on time before rounding the corner towards the end zone. In front of him, though, he had four Northview defenders blocking his path to the end zone. To get past them, he led with his shoulder as he dove into the end zone to put the Rangers up 6-0. Senior Luke Gustafson then booted in the extra point to give FHC an early 7-0 lead over the Wildcats. 

Jacob’s big night didn’t stop there, as he would go on to score another touchdown on an excellent 39-yard bomb from Justin. 

“I think the chemistry has changed because we have both gotten more comfortable as we play more games,” Jacob said. “I love how Justin can throw the ball and can change a game with his run game as well.”

By the time halftime rolled around, FHC maintained a 21-0 lead over Northview. The linebacker duo of Tyler Weaver and junior Raymond Cargill was firing on all cylinders, junior Crandall Quinn and the defensive line were eating up blocks, Justin was on his way to throwing for 108 yards, and senior John Tomsheck and his fellow kickoff members weren’t letting anything get past them—FHC was in the driver’s seat.

While coach Rogers and his team were in the cockpit during the third quarter, they decided to sub in senior quarterback Hunter Robinson for his long-awaited first snap of the season. On his fourth rush of the game, he ran for his first of two touchdowns by sprinting 47 yards up the middle and to the house.

“It definitely felt good to be back on the field,” Hunter said. “The line did a great job blocking on that play, and they made it easy for me to do the rest.”

Now that Hunter is starting to knock some of the rust off, a new problem has arisen: who should coach Rogers start at quarterback once Hunter is fully recovered? If he starts Justin, he knows he’s starting a quarterback who could easily start on most high school teams in the state; he knows Justin is the future of the program. Meanwhile, coach Rogers also understands that Hunter is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the state. Because luxuries like this one don’t come around too often in football, coach Rogers is more than willing to experiment with a two-quarterback system when Hunter is back to 100 percent. 

“Oh, it’s possible,” coach Rogers said. “Hunter is going to be brought along gradually right now, so he’s not going to go from not playing to playing a full game.”

FHC resumes its conference play next week on Friday, September 17 against Lowell’s run-heavy offense. The Red Arrows run the veer 68 percent of the time, which means that FHC’s defense has to be ready to collapse on the quarterback if he keeps it. Despite FHC’s sizable margin of victory in Week Three, coach Rogers believes that there are still things his team can tighten up heading into next week. 

“[The Wildcats] didn’t score today, but they moved the ball up and down the field a little,” Rogers said. “The ball went up in the air a few times; we have to make better plays on the ball. We have things that need tightening up, and I’m sure the offense would say the same thing.”