Baldwin falls to Onekama in season finale
ONEKAMA — Onekama bounced right back from its only loss of the regular season, and gained a bit of momentum going into its fourth consecutive postseason, with a 54-0 rout of Baldwin Friday night.
Baldwin's first 8-player season ended at 3-6. The Panthers were 3-0 at home and 0-6 on the road.
"Onekama is a very solid team," Baldwin coach Bob Watkins said. "They have 26 or 27 guys. We held our own. The first quarter was 0-0. The unique thing about 8-man is if you miss a tackle, there's no support behind you. Our guys came out hard and played well. We just didn't have enough in the tank."
Watkins said Ryan Kolenbrander had an exceptional game at quarterback. Armando Jennings and Ahmad Goram also stood out, he added.
"We have some young guys coming back," Watkins said. "If you look at our roster, we have just one junior, Ryan. The rest are sophomores and freshmen. We'll have a weight-lifting program during the winter months to get some of the young guys a little stronger. This was our first year (of 8-man football) and our kids can get more of an understanding of the basics of it.
"I don't think the kids understood the difference with 8-man. They just want to play football and 8-man gives us that capability. As time goes on, we'll be more familiar with the ins and outs of it."
Injuries took its toll on the Panthers. Seven seniors started doff starting. Between the second and third game, the Panthers lost five of them.
"It's one of those things you don't have control over," Watkins said.
Divante Ponder led the defense in tackles and Daniel McCarthy and Goram were also top tacklers.
With the win, the Portagers (8-1) tied the school record for regular-season wins.
Onekama head coach John Neph said that he wanted to put last week's 42-28 defeat at the hands of Central Lake firmly in the rear-view mirror.
"Mission accomplished," Neph said. "It started with the guys having a great week of practice, and it all paid off tonight. We had some guys step it up in terms of their intensity and technique."
The Portagers were without the services of lead running back Jacob Mauntler, who picked up an injury last week, but Blake Soper stepped right up and filled the void, running for 144 yards and three touchdowns in the game.
Onekama quarterback Jeremiah Torrey ran for 132 yards and two touchdowns and also blocked a Baldwin punt that led to another score.
The Manistee New Advocate contributed to this report.