COLDWATER – The last time the Coldwater Cardinals defeated the Harper Creek Beavers was in 1992.
Fast forward 22 years later, and Friday’s contest between the two school was a matchup of two of the top three teams in the Interstate Eight Conference. And by getting an early lead, the Cardinals ended Harper Creek’s 21-game winning streak and became playoff eligible with a 35-13 victory.
“Oh my God. This was huge for our program and our kids,” said Coldwater coach Jeff Schofhaar. “Not only can we get off that 21-year mark of not beating them (Harper Creek)… but we get in the playoffs. We get to do this on homecoming in front of a bunch of fans.”
Coldwater (6-1, 5-1 I-8) owned the time of position in the first half with 17-plus minutes of total offense. The first drive, which resulted in a 1-yard a touchdown run Coldwater running back Sam DeMeester, lasted over eight and a half minutes.
Jake Bishop (5) of Harper Creek fights through Coldwater defenders as he picks up positive yards midway through the 2nd quarter
That touchdown set a tone and established the run game early for the Cardinals. A few minutes after the first score, Cardinals’ running back Conner Covert took the handoff to the left side from three yards out to make it a two-possession game, 14-0.
A possession later with 6:35 left in the half, the Beavers’ (4-3, 4-2 I-8) offensive drive stalled on the 14-yard-line with a failed fourth-down try.
“Well I think they are a good football team and we knew that coming into it,” said Harper Creek head coach Ed Greenman. “They are running the wing-T offense and their team has bought into it. They are very well coached, and it seemed like they had an answer to everything we were trying to do defensively… We had our hands full tonight.”
With 7:36 left in the third quarter, Cardinals’ quarterback Luke Beckhusen bounced a keeper to the weak side and scored from 17 yards out to make it a 21-0 lead. A few minutes later and Beckusen broke off another big run – this time from 47 yards out – to make it 28-0 game.
Harper Creek retaliated late in the third quarter with running back’s Jake Bishop’s 3-yard touchdown carry. The Coldwater lead was now down to 21 points.
However, the score came too late in the game, and Coldwater would hold onto its lead.
“It was like the perfect scenario to have happened,” said Schorfhaar. “The kids came to play, and we got the result….Now, we are playing for home field (advantage). If we can win two more games, then our first game in the playoffs should be a home game.”
Offensively for Coldwater, Beckhusen led on the ground with 128 yards on nine carries and two touchdowns. On defense, linebacker Zach DeMeester led the team with seven tackles.
For Harper Creek, Bishop had 108 yards rushing on nine carries and a touchdown. Defensively, linebackers Noah Hayes led the team in tackles with 12.