Chargers win key game at Sherrard

Mindy Carls
Blockers for Brad Walker (31), right, are Chargers Caleb Nesbitt (10), left, and Ted Leuck (51). Walker gained a yard to the Tiger 15 on the play in the fourth quarter of the varsity game on Friday, Oct. 3, in Sherrard.

Defense and special teams came up big for Orion in a 30-0 whitewashing of Sherrard in varsity football on Friday, Oct. 3.

Going into the game, Sherrard had been the only team with a perfect record in the Olympic Conference.

After the game, five teams all had one loss—Orion, Macomb, Farmington, Monmouth-Roseville and Sherrard—with three weeks left in the regular season.

With a share of the conference championship on the line, the Chargers (5-1, 2-1) finish the season with the Monmouth-Roseville Titans (4-2, 2-1) on Friday, Oct. 10, in Monmouth; the Knoxville Blue Bullets (1-5, 1-3) on Friday, Oct. 17, in Orion; and the Rockridge Rockets (1-5, 0-4) on Friday, Oct. 24, in Orion.

Sherrard is a much better team than Friday’s final score showed, Orion coach Jason VanHoutte said. He expected a much closer game.

The Chargers learned a lot from a bitter defeat at the hands of the Macomb Bombers three weeks earlier, VanHoutte said.

Orion had gone into Macomb with a 2-0 record and the #1 ranking in the state, the coach said.

“It’s hard to convince high school kids they have a long ways to go,” VanHoutte said. “They don’t believe the coaches when we say they have things they need to improve on.”

A loss to the Bombers convinced the Chargers the coaches were right.

“Since them, they have been businesslike in practice,” VanHoutte said.

The entire team executed a lot better at Sherrard, he said.

“We said at practice on Monday that it would take our best defensive game, and our best offensive game, and we got our best defensive game, our best offensive game, and our best special teams game,” VanHoutte said.

The Chargers took advantage of their opportunities.

After scoring on the opening drive, Orion got a break when the kick returner slipped and fell inside the Sherrard 1.

The ball was only an inch or so ahead of the goal line, and after Tyler DeDecker stuffed the runner on first down, Mitchel White tackled Zach Miller in the end zone for a safety to put Orion up 9-0.

“That gave us some momentum,” VanHoutte said.

The defense came up with two big stops in the first half, with White and Brandon Larson getting sacks to kill drives.

On the final Tiger drive of the game, Jared Simmer picked off a pass.

The Chargers rolled for 357 yards of total offense, including 211 yards on the ground and 146 in the air.

Matt Knoll led the Charger runners with 122 yards on 46 carries, while Kennen Hutchison added 32 yards on eight carries.

Matt Markezich rushed for 24 yards on five carries; Evan Viager, 17 yards on seven carries; and Brad Walker, 14 yards on three carries. Jordan Adkins gained only one yard on one carry, but it was for a touchdown.

The Tigers picked up 143 yards on 35 attempts.

Charger quarterback Josh Hutton completed eight of 11 passes for 146 yards and three touchdowns.

He hit six receivers, including Adkins, one catch for 41 yards; Ian Cooper, two for 35 yards and two touchdowns; Cody Williams, one for 33 yards; Hutchison, two for 18 yards; Knoll, one for 12 yards; and DeDecker, one for seven yards and a touchdown.

Sherrard quarterback Logan Frye connected on two of nine passes for nine yards.

The Chargers piled up 21 first downs and the Tigers, eight.

Orion was flagged four times for 25 yards and Sherrard, four times for 35 yards.

Early momentum

On the opening possession of the game, the Chargers drove 60 yards for a 7-0 lead.

Between them, Knoll, Hutchison and Viager reeled off 44 yards on nine


On fourth-and-inches at the Sherrard 16, the offensive line opened a big enough hole for Hutton to gain a yard.

On the next play, Hutton passed to Cooper in the end zone with 7:18 to go in the period.

Hutton also kicked the extra point.

After giving up the safety, the Tigers had to kick from their 20-yard line. Starting with the ball at midfield, the Chargers moved it down to the 24 before turning it over on downs.

The Tigers marched to the Charger 30 with 1:02 left in the first quarter.

On fourth-and-5, White sacked Frye eight yards behind the line of scrimmage.

After Orion and Sherrard traded punts, the Chargers had the ball at their own 39 early in the second period.

On first down, Knoll gained 11 yards to the 50. A holding penalty on the next play cost the Chargers 10 yards.

Viager got five yards back on a run up the middle, and Hutton zipped a screen pass to Knoll for 12 yards.

On third-and-3, Knoll was jammed at the line.

Lining up to punt, the Chargers pulled off a fake instead. Hutton passed to Williams for 19 yards and a first down.

Orion went on to score on Hutton’s pass to DeDecker.

After the extra point, the Chargers led 16-0 with 5:40 to go in the half.

The Tigers drove to the Charger 15, where they faced fourth-and-2. Larson dropped Frye two yards behind the line to force Sherrard to turn the ball over on downs.

It was a huge stop. If the Tigers had scored with just over a minute to go in the half, and if they had scored on the opening drive in the second half, they might have tied the score.

After intermission, the Orion defense was able to come up with a big stop on the first Sherrard possession.

The Tigers reached the Orion 26, only to have the middle of the Charger line stuff the runner on fourth-and-3.

Taking over with 8:17 on the clock, the Chargers were able to move the ball 75 yards for their third touchdown.

The big play came on the very first snap of the drive. Knoll broke a 54-yard run on the right side.

An offsides penalty helped create a fourth-and-9 situation for the Chargers at the Tiger 20.

Not to worry. Hutton passed to Cooper in the end zone for a touchdown.

Hutton kicked the extra point to give Orion a 23-0 advantage.

The Chargers scored their final touchdown with 2:50 to go in the third period.

Hutton passed to Adkins for 41 yards, setting up first-and-10 just outside the Sherrard 10. Knoll picked up three yards on the ground, Hutchison caught a pass for seven yards, and Adkins went off tackle on the right for the score.

Hutton kicked the extra point.

In the fourth quarter, Charger reserved drove to the Tiger 12 before turning the ball over on downs.

Simmer’s interception gave Orion the ball at the Sherrard 20, but VanHoutte declined the opportunity to run up the score.