Coopersville Football: History

Broncos Finish Another Great Season
Saturday, November 16, 2002

By Jane Bos
The Grand Rapids Press

Nothing gets by the South Christian football team, not even in the dark.

The Sailors, led by a powerful defense, shut out their third opponent in the Division 4 regional final Friday night. This time, South Christian blanked previously unbeaten and second-ranked Coopersville 35-0 at Robinson Field in Coopersville.

The offense did just fine, too, racking up enough points to set the clock running for about the final four minutes.

O-K Gold Conference champion South Christian (11-1) advances to the semifinals next Saturday to face the winner of today's 2 p.m. Caro (10-1) vs. Menominee (9-1) contest at Cheboygan High School.

"I tell you, I have not coached a team that gets after the ball like that, it was just awesome tonight," said Bob Blacquiere, South Christian's coach for the last 21 years. "We've had three shutouts, and that says we are playing good defense. The kids believe and it's built momentum. The next round, wherever that is, I have no doubt it will be equally tough."

Four-time O-K Blue Conference champ Coopersville tried everything Friday, but could not move the ball. The Broncos offense, which has sent the clock running six times this season, was last blanked in the 1998 season opener, 24-0, to Sparta.

Friday, Coopersville fell behind for the first time this season.

By halftime, South Christian led 14-0 and had totaled 221 yards in offense. Coopersville had amassed just 65 yards.

In the third quarter, with the Sailors leading 28-0 after two quick scores -- a 2-yard run by Andrew Hesselink and a 17-yard run by Adam Syswerda -- the lights went out at Coopersville. Literally.

An overload on the electrical system blew the main breaker. Except for the lights from the concession stand and the stars above, all was dark. It took about 20 minutes before all the lights returned.

But it wasn't enough to stop the Sailors.

On at least 10 occasions in Friday's game, the Sailors defense sent Coopersville back for negative yards.

It also forced two Bronco fumbles and grabbed three interceptions.

"Defensively, they took over our offensive line, and we have not had that happen all year," said Coopersville coach Jim Meerman, whose team had beaten South Christian in the playoffs the last two seasons.

"Their quarterback made big plays. They made big plays, and we did not make big plays. Of course, you cannot turn the ball over and win."

Rob White, South's senior quarterback, completed 11 of 22 passes for 190 yards and one touchdown, an 81-yarder to Joe Skinner late in the first quarter.

White added a second score, on a 7-yard run, with 16 seconds left in the first half, giving South a 14-0 lead at halftime.

The Sailors' final score, a 45-yard run by Grant Webster with 3:54 remaining, started the clock running.

"It was just great," said Steve Burgess, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound two-way guard for the Sailors. "I never would've thought we could win on defense like we have."

Believe. The rest of the defense also gets credit, including noseguard Michael Wierenga, guard Nate Jansen and tackles Tim VanDerHeide and Josh VanLaan, who had an interception.

"We just had so much intensity up front, and that's a big thing to try and match up with Coopersville," Blacquiere said. "They have good team speed, and we forced them into a position they were not used to. We just got rolling on them."

Coopersville wound up with 87 yards on the ground and 54 passing yards. South Christian had 165 yards rushing to go along with White's 190 yards passing.

"They made the plays on defense, they handled us up front," Meerman said. "We've run the ball well all year, and we could not tonight. I was impressed with their speed and their size up front. They were swarming."


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byron
Broncos Win District Championship
Saturday, November 09, 2002

By Jeff Chaney
The Grand Rapids Press

Jake Visser was a quick study for the Coopersville football team.
   
Usually a defensive tackle, Visser, a junior, lined up at defensive end Friday night in Coopersville's Division 4 District 1 championship game against visiting Byron Center.

With his team ahead by only score, Visser intercepted a Jay Tubergen screen pass and ran the ball for a 44-yard touchdown early in the third quarter. That touchdown gave Coopersville some breathing room and helped them to a 34-14 win over the Bulldogs.

Coopersville will now host South Christian in the regional title game this week. The visiting Sailors beat Corunna 13-0 in the District 2 championship game Friday.

"They were throwing that pass over my head the first half, and I finally got a hold of one," Visser said. "The coaches did tell me to start looking out for that pass. But I was a tackle, and I wasn't used to looking for things like that."

Coopersville coach Jim Meerman knows Visser has big plays in him.

"We told (Visser) at halftime to start putting his hands up when he was rushing the quarterback because he threw over him a few times, and he did a great job of that in the second half," said Meerman, whose team improved to 11-0 with the win. "But he's one of the hardest working kids we have in the offseason, and you like to see goods things happen like that.

"We said we had to make something happen, because when you get to this level somebody has to make a big play," Meerman added. "Offensively, we have to make something happen, and defensively make something happen, and tonight it was Visser."

Visser had a little help on the play. It was set up by a huge pass rush from senior linebacker Brent Vogel, who got in Tubergen's face on the pass attempt.

"Jay went back and we were throwing a screen pass, and his vision was blocked," said Byron Center coach Gasper Giarmo, whose team completed its season with a 9-2 record. "Jay was just trying to make a play, and you can't fault him for that, but their kid made the play."

Coopersville's defense also made some big plays in the first half that allowed the Broncos to carry a 14-7 lead to halftime.

Three times Byron Center was in Coopersville's red zone in the first half, only to come away with one score. The other two times the Bulldogs missed a 27-yard field goal, and Vogel sacked Tubergen on a fourth-and-goal play that gave Coopersville the ball.

"We've played good defense all year," Meerman said. "They run a real complicated offense with a lot of formations, and I thought our defensive coaches had our kids prepared."

Byron Center gained 228 yards of total offense for the night, but totaled just six rushing yards in the second half.

Giarmo said missed opportunities in the first half hurt his team.

"When you make mistakes against good teams, they will usually capitalize on them," Giarmo said. "We had some opportunities, but we didn't capitalize on them. We made some mistakes, and my hat's off to Coopersville, they are a very good team."

Coopersville's offense was led by senior running back Dustin Van Dam, who rushed for 184 yards on 23 carries, including a 71-yard touchdown scamper that opened the game's scoring.


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Broncos Wear Down Orchard View 41-6
Saturday, November 02, 2002

By Jeff Chaney
The Grand Rapids Press

After a sluggish first half, Dustin VanDam and the Coopersville football team rolled into the second round of the Division 4 playoffs with a 41-6 thumping of visiting Muskegon Orchard View on Friday.

The Broncos erased a first half plagued by mistakes by coming out in the second half and marching the ball down the field. Van Dam scored one of his five touchdowns on that drive that helped propel Coopersville to the win.

Coopersville will now host O-K Blue Conference rival Byron Center next Friday in the district championship game. The Bulldogs beat host Spring Lake 24-7. Friday's game will be a rematch of a 35-0 win by Coopersville in week seven.

"At halftime we went in and changed some things we needed to do and then came out and executed," said VanDam, who ended the night with 123 yards rushing.

"We weren't happy with our first half. We knew we had to pick it up and make some things happen, but it seems like every game this year we come out in the second half and play strong."

Even though the Broncos were up 20-6 after 24 minutes of play, Coopersville was far from being in control. The Cardinals were moving the ball, and the Broncos had a couple of huge mistakes, including a fumble on the Orchard View 10-yard line.

"To be honest with you, at the half I told our coaches that the first half might be the best thing that happened to us," said Coopersville coach Jim Meerman, whose No 2 state-ranked Broncos are now 10-0. "It was a little wakeup call that we need to come ready to play."

Orchard View coach Jim Janusiewicz wished the Broncos could have stayed sleepy for the final two quarters.

That wasn't going to happen. After the opening score of the second half, Zach Erickson had the first of his two second-half interceptions on the Cardinals' first drive after halftime.

Coopersville marched down the field again, capped off by a VanDam 1-yard touchdown plunge.

"We knew we had to stop them that first drive of the second -- that was key," said Janusiewicz, whose team completed its season with a 6-4 record. "Then we needed to score the first time we got the ball, but we just couldn't put it together."

It was the Broncos that had it going, and Meerman gave a lot of credit to the defense for that. Coopersville held the Cardinals to 233 yards of total offense.

"I think our team was looking ahead and I hate to say that, " Meerman said. "But I think our defensive coaches did a good job of coming up with a plan to slow them down because they have moved the ball on everybody they've played this year. I just thought we wore them down in the end, because they have a lot of guys go both ways. "

Coopersville's Chris Liszewski also rushed for 172 yards on eight carries.


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Coaches Make the Difference
Saturday, October 26, 2002

By Bob Becker
The Grand Rapids Press

Take a drive through the Coopersville School District complex here on East Street late any weekday afternoon in the fall, and you'll see football practice going on everywhere they can find 10 square yards of grass.

There's football for the little kids, a thriving 78ers program, and so many freshmen, JV and varsity players wearing the green that nearly one third of the boys in the high school are wearing shoulder pads and hitting people.

Success breeds success, and over the past 18 years, the Coopersville football program has amassed one of the finest overall records in West Michigan.

Since Jim Meerman took control of the varsity program, the Broncos have won 125 games while losing 52. Since 1989, when Meerman finally had a team made up of players who had come up through his system, the Broncos have been 105-32, and this is the fifth time -- and fourth year in a row -- that they've made the playoffs and won the conference championship.

The Broncos have been state runners-up twice.

Sharing the credit

As with every other successful program in Michigan, it takes more than a single hand on the steering wheel to drive a program to championships.

"It takes a staff," Meerman said. "And by that, I don't mean a group of individual coaches. I mean a staff, a single unit that thinks alike, works together well and likes and respects each other.

"You have to have that bond, where you can share ideas, argue if you have to, but get to the point where all the pieces fit together."

Meerman is fortunate. His staff, Todd VanHouten, Gary Klein and Pete VanKempen, have been together almost forever. And volunteer assistant Mike Meyer, just out of college, fits in very well.

Klein has 24 years of experience. VanHouten has 22. They were JV coaches with Meerman and moved up with him 18 years ago. VanKempen is the rookie. He only has 10 years with the group.

"Heck, if you go through our entire staff, freshman, JV, varsity, there's only one guy who isn't from Coopersville, who didn't play football here," Meerman said.

"Yeah, and we're trying to get rid of him," VanHouten joked.

Chuckles aside, that's pretty astounding. And fortunate.

"There's a comfort level," Merman said. "On the one hand you have the football skills, the teaching skills, which many other assistants in other programs have. But here, everybody bleeds Green. This has been such a part of their lives for so long."

Klein and VanHouten are the defensive coordinators. Klein handles the defensive backs, VanHouten the line and linebackers.

Commitment to coaching

Both are teachers, Klein in applied technology, VanHouten in American history and geography.

VanKempen, who coaches the offensive line, teaches biology.

"It's a huge commitment," VanHouten said. "Just ask our wives. During the season we're pretty much gone to midnight during the week, because we have school, practice, weights and film.

"You'd think you'd be finished with homework when you get out of college, but not when you coach."

Because of the time demands, it is difficult for assistants to have much of a social life during the season.

"We are our social life," Klein said. "We get together a lot, especially after a game on Friday night. Our hours don't match up with anybody else."

And what is the topic of conversation at these "social" gatherings?

"The game, what else?" he said. "Mostly we try to make sure we're not the one everybody else picks on that night."

I asked why none of them had gone after a head coaching job. You know ... big money, lots of power, getting interviewed all the time?

"There was a time, six or seven years ago, when I toyed with the idea," VanHouten said. "Not that I was unhappy here. But the idea of being head coach intrigued me."

But those thoughts soon evaporated.

"It came down to family," he said. "I decided I just didn't want to move. I am very happy here, and my family is happy here. I love to teach and I love to coach, so why not continue to do that where the fit is so good?

"We all grew up together. The more I thought about it, the more I came to understand that this is where I was supposed to be."

More than winning

Winning feels good. But so does coaching.

"It's teaching," VanKempen said. "And I really believe that the best teachers make the best coaches. There is nothing better than watching a kid start the year as an average player, and watch him finish as a great one.

"Watching him improve, watching him grow up, there's a lot of satisfaction in that."

VanKempen started out as a freshman coach, working with the defense. He moved up to JV and wound up coaching the backs and O-line. Now he's the varsity line coach.

"It's a matter of teaching techniques," he said. "Technique and repetition. Every year I learn more and more about what I need to do, and every year I see kids wind up better than when they started. To me, that's the best part of being a coach."

"Right now I have four or five kids fighting for two positions," Klein said. "That's because a couple of those kids have gotten to a level above where they were to start the season. That's where the satisfaction comes from."

All this "fun" talk ignores one reality. Coaching is stressful. Winning is great, but winning begets expectations. And the head coach isn't the only one who feels it.

"Why do you think I have all this white hair?" VanHouten asked. "You don't ever get away from the game. Gary and I are together all day and if we have free time, we wind up in each other's classrooms talking about things we need to do."

VanHouten remembers a playoff game against South Christian at Caledonia.

"We were nervous because it was a big game," he said. "But then I looked across the field at (Sailors head coach) Bob Blacquiere and looked at his staff, great coaches like John Butler and Joe Zomerlei.

"That was really stressful, because they've been together forever, and I know how important that kind of experience was."

Who won, I asked.

"We did," he grinned. "I wasted a lot of stress that night."

On the same page

Coopersville's players are guided by gametime "rules," certain requirements or standards for every position. A "rule" might be the way a defensive lineman responds to an offensive lineman's block, or the way a defensive back covers a pass route.

"It's all part of the program," Meerman said, "from the coaches at the 78ers level through varsity. Everybody runs the same offense and defense, uses the same terminology, every position has the same rules.

"When varsity practice starts, I can put the whole offense and defense in in two days. From that point on, it's just review, review.

"And when you are as lucky as I am to have a staff together this long, you don't even need a practice plan. Everybody takes their group and does what needs to be done."

Coopersville wrapped up its regular season Friday, and now it's back to the playoffs for the Broncos.

"More stress," VanHouten said. "More midnights watching film.

"Doesn't get any better than this, does it?"


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Hamilton
Broncos Clinch 4th Consecutive Title
Saturday, October 26, 2002

By Steve Kaminski
The Grand Rapids Press

Coopersville football coach Jim Meerman has taken plenty of razzing from his assistants, who have needled him all fall for his run-oriented game plans.

Meerman got the last laugh when he opened up his offense early in Friday night's 41-0 victory over Hamilton at home. The Broncos took control of the regular-season finale on the game's second play when senior quarterback Matt Schwartz fired a 73-yard touchdown pass to Jon Kol.

Kol, motoring down the middle of the field, beat the Hawkeye defenders and hauled in Schwartz's pass with his outstretched hands and was home free.

"We have shown pretty good balance all year," Meerman said. "Sure, we are a running football team, and we have excellent ends, our quarterback has done a great job throwing the football all year. They sent a lot of people early, we took a shot, went up stairs and got a score."

His assistants weren't buying it.

"He's still Bo," maintained assistant Pete Van Kempen, comparing Meerman to former University of Michigan coach Bo Schembechler.

Coopersville clinched the O-K Blue Conference championship outright and wrapped up its fourth 9-0 season in the past 12 years. Meerman said to the best of his recollection that the last time the Broncos have lost a regular-season home game was in 1997, so they kept that streak alive Friday, too. The Broncos are headed back to the state playoffs, and they will find out Sunday night who they play in next weekend's opening round.

Hamilton, 6-3, is returning to the playoffs, as well. That's why Meerman said he was pleasantly surprised to find his team up 35-0 at halftime against a squad of Hamilton's caliber. The entire second half was played under a running clock.

The Broncos scored five of their six touchdowns from 20 yards out or more. Senior Dustin Van Dam rushed for 103 yards on nine carries in the first half and took a seat for the rest of the game. He helped stake Coopersville to a 22-0 first-quarter lead.

"This team amazes me every night they show up," Meerman said. "They play hard, they love to play the game and they get mad when we pull them out. They're that kind of group. They love to come to practice, and they love football."

Hamilton mustered two first downs and 85 yards of offense the entire game. Meanwhile, the Hawkeyes' defense was burned by Coopersville's big plays. Van Dam's 58-yard touchdown run put the Broncos up 14-0 with just two minutes, 15 seconds, gone in the first quarter.

The Hawkeyes turned the ball over on their next possession, and the Broncos capitalized on Jeff Longstreth's 5-yard touchdown run. In the second quarter, Brent Vogel ran for a 20-yard touchdown, and Chris Liszewski scored on a 53-yard run. Chris Senna capped the scoring with a 41 yard run in the fourth.

"It was important that we started well, and we didn't," said Hamilton coach Chris Myers, who is leading his team back to the playoffs for the second time in his two years of coaching the Hawkeyes.

Hamilton ... 0 0 0 0--0

Coopersville ... 22 13 0 6--41

C--Jon Kol 73 pass from Matt Schwartz (kick failed)

C--Dustin VanDam 58 run (Chris Liszewski pass from Schwartz)

C--Jeff Longstreth 5 run (Schwartz run)

C--Brent Vogel 20 run (kick failed)

C--Liszweski 53 run (Josh Wenger kick)

C--Chad Senna 41 run (kick failed)

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING--Hamilton, Dustin Smith 8-16. Coopersville, VanDam 9-103

PASSING--Hamilton, Jake Koopman 2-8-40. Coopersville, Schwartz 3-5-102


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Coops 35 Byron Center 0
By Steve Kaminski
The Grand Rapids Press

Coopersville's coaching staff announced after the Broncos' win Friday night that they have a brand new nickname this fall for head coach Jim Meerman.

"It's Bo," said assistant Pete Van Kempen, referring to legendary University of Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, who was known for his grind-it-out, ultra-conservative game plans.

"Get out of here," said Meerman, trying to silence his coaches.

Actually, Meerman didn't play it too close to the vest Friday night as the Broncos beat Byron Center 35-0 at home.

The Broncos held a 6-0 third-quarter lead in a game between two undefeated, O-K Blue Conference, state-ranked teams. That's when Meerman elected to go for it on 4th-and-inches at his own 48.

Senior running back Dustin Van Dam picked up three yards and the first down, and the next thing the 5,900 fans knew, the Broncos had forced another running clock. Coopersville cashed in five plays later with a touchdown to go up 14-0, and there was no stopping the Broncos.

"Coach Meerman has confidence in all of us players, and he knows that we can get it done," said Broncos senior quarterback Matt Schwartz "We went out there and tried our hardest, and we got it done."

Coopersville did play ball-controlled offense, just like Schembechler would have liked, with the Broncos hanging onto the football for a total of 14 minutes, 35 seconds, in the first half, compared to the Bulldogs' 9:25. Van Dam led the way with 129 yards on 27 carries, and he scored a pair of touchdowns. Teammates Bret Sommers and Andy Purcell added touchdowns on runs of eight and 24 yards, respectively.

The Broncos' defense had a pair of interceptions. Zach Erikson had the first one, pulling down a pass deflected by teammate Chris Liszewski in his own end zone that helped the Broncos preserve a 14-0 third-quarter lead. Chris Thoms then tacked on the final Coopersville touchdown when he intercepted a fourth-quarter pass and raced 23 yards for the score.

"Our secondary came up big," said Meerman, whose team is ranked third in Division 4. "Our secondary hadn't had an interception all year, and then we got that big pick in the end zone. A linebacker had an interception last week. We have three interceptions, and two of them were (Friday)."

"It was 6-0 at halftime, and we felt good about the position we were in," Byron Center coach Gasper Giarmo said. "We told the kids all we needed to do was keep them at six and give us a chance to score in the third or fourth quarter, make the extra point, and we could win the ball game. But we made some not very good plays on defense."

O-K BLUE ROUNDUP

MIDDLEVILLE 27, CALVIN CHRISTIAN 20: Ryan Adams caught an 8-yard TD pass from Chad Baragar and Darren Tape ran 71 yards for another score to complete Middleville's comeback. Adam Loveless (7 yards) and Kyle Farris (13 yards) also scored for Middleville. Charlie DeWitt ran 2 yards for Calvin Christian's first TD, while Joel Kampstra caught a 7-yard pass from Matt Brecker and Mike Green ran 1 yard for the Squires' other scores that produced a 20-14 lead.

BELDING 40, ROGERS 6: Thomas Albert (55 yards) and Scott Wallace (26 yards) returned interceptions for first-quarter touchdowns to spark host Belding. Travis Antcliff (24 yards), Jeff Reminga (19 yards), Drew Nielsen (14 yards) and Jason Ober (4 yards) also ran for Belding touchdowns. Kevin Halonen scored Rogers' only TD on a 1-yard run.

HAMILTON 33, GODWIN HEIGHTS 20: Brian Khousakoun scored on runs of 7, 11 and 4 yards to lead host Hamilton. Jake Koopman threw a 30-yard TD pass to Dustin Smith and scored on an 8-yard run for the Hawkeyes. Rick Ortiz had TD runs of 2 and 13 yards and threw an 11-yard scoring pass to Rick Bsharah for Godwin Heights. Khousakoun led Hamilton with 105 yards in 17 carries. Kurtis Villa had 82 yards in 13 carries for the Wolverines.


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Coops Runs Over Belding, 41-6
by Jane Bos
GR Press

The Coopersville football team played Belding for a little respect, a little revenge Friday night.

The Broncos got a lot of both.

Behind a powerful offensive line and a steady, rotating backfield, Coopersville shut down mighty Belding 41-6 in an O-K Blue Conference victory at Coopersville's Robinson Field.

The win keeps unbeaten Coopersville, ranked third in the state in Division 4, tied atop the Blue with Byron Center and Hamilton with 3-0 marks.

A year ago Belding (3-2, 2-1) upset Coopersville 21-12 in a Blue game. The Broncos went on to win their third-straight conference title, but they didn't forget the mar on their otherwise perfect record.

"We were a little nervous," said Coopersville senior right guard Andy Sloothaak. "We thought it would be close. We can't believe it happened. We worked so hard in practice all week. The coaches said it had to be perfect."

Sloothaak and the rest of the offensive line -- center Dale Wohlford, guard Brad McCurdy, tackles Alex Lemmen and Jake Visser and tight end Chris Hare -- listened well.

Together, they helped the Broncos amass 411 yards and five touchdowns rushing. Dustin Van Dam, a squirty senior sprinter, led the way with 219 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries.

"You've got to give props to the whole offensive line," said Lemmen, a senior. "Everyone hustled their butts off the whole time. This win was big, huge."

The game started out close. Late in the first quarter, Coopersville scored on a 71-yard pass from Matt Schwartz to Chris Hare.

About 41/2 minutes later, Belding responded with a touchdown of its own, a 2-yard run by Andrew Nielsen, to knot the score at 6-6.

Then it was all Broncos. They scored two more touchdowns before halftime -- on a 12-yard run by Chris Liszewski and a 16-yard run by Jeff Longstreth -- and led 20-6 at halftime.

Van Dam scored a touchdown in both the third and fourth quarters, on respective runs of 39 and 24 yards, to give Coopersville a 34-6 edge with 6:54 left.

After Matt King scored on a 4-yard romp with 2:32 left, the game went into a running clock.

"We've had four games so far, and we won them all, but we really didn't know how good we were," said Coopersville coach Jim Meerman. "When you play a team like Belding, which is always good, you've got to be ready to play."

Ready, coach.

After graduating all-everything tailback Joe Roper a year ago, there were question marks in the Broncos backfield. But VanDam worked hard in the off-season, lifting weights and running daily, lost weight and turned himself into a player.

"Dustin is a self-made player," Meerman said. "He was our third-string tailback last year."

Coopersville's defense did fine, too, limiting Belding's deceptive offensive to 65 yards on the ground and 31 yards in the air.

"They're a good football team," said Belding coach Joel Wilker. "We knew that. We respected them. Our kids wanted to show we were a good football team, too. We didn't expect this kind of an outcome.

"We're out of the drivers seat in the Blue, but we don't feel like we're out of it. We're going to work darn hard to make sure we're there at the end."

Coopersville 41, Belding 6

Belding ... 0 6 0 0-- 6

Coopersville ... 6 14 7 14--41

C--Chris Hare 71 pass from Matt Schwartz (kick failed)

B--Andrew Nielsen 2 run (kick blocked)

C--Chris Liszewski 12 run (Josh Wenger kick)

C--Jeff Longstreth 16 run (Wenger kick)

C--Dustin VanDam 39 run (Wenger kick)

C--VanDam 24 run (Wenger kick)

C--Matt King 4 run (Wenger kick)

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING--Belding 38-89 (Nielsen 17-65), Coopersville 46-411 (VanDam 12-219)

PASSING--Belding 31 (Jeff Reminga 1-5-31), Coopersville 119 (Schwartz 6-9-1-119)

RECEIVING--Belding (C.J. McCarty 1-31), Coopersville (Chirs Hare 1-71)


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Saturday, November 10
Broncos Finish Great Season with 21-7 Loss at DeWitt
by Greg Johnson
The GR Press

DEWITT -- A dropped pass here, a fumble there, an interception over there and Coopersville's season came to an abrupt halt in a Division 4 regional championship game Friday night.

"We had some chances, but we kept making mistakes and turning the ball over, and you can't do that against good teams," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said after his Broncos fell to host DeWitt 21-7.

"They take advantage of you."

The Panthers (11-1) take advantage of the win and move on to the state semifinals next weekend to meet the winner of today's game between their league rivals Chesaning (10-1) and Kingsford (10-1) at Northern Michigan University.

The Broncos (10-2), meanwhile, get to go home and lament three interceptions, a lost fumble, several fourth-down failures, dropped passes and penalties.

"I wish I knew why we did those things, but you have to give DeWitt credit for playing hard, aggressive football, forcing some things and taking advantage of the mistakes we made," Meerman said. "We had some chances to take advantage of their mistakes, and we just couldn't do it."

Coopersville, which had a 248-189 advantage in total yards, lost the ball on a Joe Roper fumble on the second play of the game.

That set up a 10-play, 44-yard scoring drive and a 7-0 lead for the Panthers.

Early in the second quarter the Broncos scored on a 2-yard Roper run to tie the game, but on their next possession suffered the first of three interceptions thrown by quarterback Joel Longstreth.

It took DeWitt two plays after the interception to score. The 19-yard flea-flicker touchdown was scored by Tyler Thelen.

DeWitt then pulled off an 85-yard touchdown drive just before halftime with help from a questionable pass interference penalty on Coopersville's Josh Kline. Late in the drive a great play by Cole Thelen, who wrestled an apparent interception away from Kline to make it a 35-yard reception, put the ball at the Coopersville 5-yard-line.

Two plays later, Jason Bunce smashed in the end zone from 6 yards out, and DeWitt had the 21-7 lead it would keep for the rest of the game.

"We've had a pattern of getting leads and then letting the defense take care of things," DeWitt coach Rob Zimmerman said. "We caused a couple of turnovers, capitalized on them and when we needed big plays on defense and offense, we got them."

Zimmerman's Panthers were led by quarterback Chad Alger, who ran for a score and completed 7 of 14 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown.

"This is a big win for us," said Zimmerman, who used to coach at Cedar Springs. "Coopersville has such a great program. This is a big step in the right direction for us."

Longstreth, a senior, finished a fine career at Coopersville with a tough night of 5 for 19 passing for 58 yards and the three interceptions. Roper, the senior running star who tallied a school-record 38 touchdowns this season, finished with 132 yards on 23 carries.

"I was proud of the way we came back after the first touchdown, but we couldn't sustain anything," Meerman said. "This team had a great season. It's a shame it has to end, but they played hard, made a good run and had some fun along the way."


Coopersville 0 7 0 0 7

DeWitt       7 14 0 0 21

DeWitt--Chad Alger 1 run (Isac Bush kick)

Coopersville--Joe Roper 2 run (Nick Mayse kick)

DeWitt--Tyler Thelen 19 pass from Alger (Bush kick)

DeWitt--Jason Bunce 6 run (Bush kick)

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING--Coopersville 32-190 (Roper 23-132), DeWitt 38-99 (Bunce 7-46).

PASSING--Coopersville 58 (Joel Longstreth 5-19-58-3), DeWitt 90 (Alger 7-14-90-0)

RECEIVING--Coopersville (Roper 1-41), DeWitt (Chet Davis 2-19).


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Saturday, November 3
Broncos Beat Lakers 36-14, Claim District Championship
by Greg Johnson
The GR Press

Give Coopersville running back Joe Roper an inch of room, and he might run a mile and lasso touchdowns along the way.

The offensive line and fullback provided big holes, Roper responded with 243 yards rushing, the Bronco defense stiffened and host Coopersville pulled away in the second half for a 36-14 Division 4 district title win over Spring Lake Friday night.

"At halftime we decided to spread things out on offense, and we made some adjustments on defense in the secondary, and then everything came together," said Coopersville coach Jim Meerman, whose 10-1 Broncos move on to regional play next week.

They will meet the winner of today's game between host DeWitt (9-1) and Reed City (6-3) next weekend. The site and time will also be determined today.

"We're happy to put the pads on another week and see what happens," said Meerman, whose teams have made it to the third round three years in-a-row and last year finished state-runner-up in the Division 4. "We wanted to keep Spring Lake from making big plays. After that opening kick, we were able to do it."

The game started like a track meet with Spring Lake's David Morgan sprinting 86 yards for a touchdown after getting the ball via a handoff on the opening kickoff return.

Then, just seconds later, Coopersville's Roper dashed 64 yards for a Bronco touchdown.

A few minutes later, Coopersville's Brian Klein caught a pass from quarterback Joel Longstreth up the middle of the field for 34 yards and a touchdown for a 13-7 lead.

But before the first quarter could end, Spring Lake went back in the lead on a 5-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Mike Miller to Josh Odmark.

The game took on a more normal pace the rest of the way, though Roper kept running for yards in big chunks and finished with the 243 yards, three touchdowns and a conversion run all on 26 carries. He now has 37 touchdowns for the season.

"Give our fullback, Chuck Purcell some credit in there," Meerman said. "He helps the offensive line open things up for Joe. Joe gets the touchdowns, and the headlines, but Chuck does a lot of the dirty work."

The Coopersville defense managed some key dirty work, too. Spring Lake's Kyle Smith was stopped on a fourth-down-2 play at the Coopersville 11-yard line with 1:21 remaining in the first half. It stopped a drive that had started at the Spring Lake 30 and looked like it might tie the game.

"I thought that was big just before halftime, and I wasn't real happy about the spot on it either," Spring Lake coach Jerry Rabideau said. "I think getting that might have changed the game. You've got to give Coopersville credit though. They are tough, they came up with some key sacks on us and that Roper is a great runner."

Meerman said the stop at the end of the first half was critical.

"It gave us confidence for the second half that we could stop them," he said. "We made some big defensive plays after that."

The Broncos put the game away with two third-quarter touchdowns, one on a 25-yard Longstreth pass to Steve Zatarga, and another on a 30-yard sprint by Roper.

Longstreth finished 4 of 9 passing for 60 yards and two scores. Miller was 5 of 13 for 32 yards, but completed just one of eight passes in the second half for Spring Lake. Smith topped Spring Lake rushers with 76 yards, which was dwarfed by Coopersville's 306-146 advantage in rushing yards and 366-198 advantage in total yards.

Roper thanked his teammates for his big night.

"My offensive line and my fullback give me great holes, and all I have to do is run," Roper said.

Spring Lake    14 0 0 0 14

Coopersville   13 8 15 0 36

SL--David Morgan 86 kick return (Justin Johnston kick)

C--Joe Roper 64 run (Nick Mayse kick)

C--Brian Klein 34 pass from Joel Longstreth (kick failed)

SL--Josh Odmark 5 pass from Mike Miller (Johnston kick)

C--Roper 1 run (Steve Zatarga pass from Longstreth)

C--Zatarga 25 pass from Longstreth (Mayse kick)

C--Roper 30 run (Roper run)

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS
RUSHING--Spring Lake 41-146 (Kyle Smith 16-76), Coopersville 45-306 (Roper 26-243).

PASSING--Spring Lake, Mike Miller 5-13-52. Coopersville, Longstreth 4-9-60.

RECEIVING--Spring Lake, Odmark 2-23. Coopersville, Zatarga 3-28.


Roper
Monday, October 29
Broncos Beat South Christian in a Thriller, 20-19
By PAUL KONYNDYK
The Advance News

Some football games are good, but then there are those magical games, the kind of games that are forever etched in a program’s lore.

But how can an above-average game be distinguished from a classic? The answer is relatively simple: The quality of a game can be measured by the number of people that claim to have been in attendance in comparison to the actual number of spectators.

Ten or 20 years from now, there will be a lot of Coopersville fans claiming they were in attendance at last Friday’s opening-round playoff showdown between their Broncos and South Christian.

Bronco fans witnessed a truly storybook ending to an excellent contest between two teams equal in skill in determination.

Trailing 19-13 with just under two minutes remaining and no timeouts, Coopersville marched the ball 80 yards into the teeth of a fierce swirling wind, and converted twice on fourth-and-long.

With four seconds remaining and positioned at South Christian’s 7-yard line, Coopersville had time for just one more play -- and made it count. Junior quarterback Joel Longstreth connected with senior Steve Zatarga three yards short of the goal line. After drawing pursuit from the Sailors’ defense, Zatarga lateralled the ball to running back Brian Klein, who strode into the end zone untouched.

Klein’s touchdown tied the contest at 19-19, before placekicker Nick Mayse notched the biggest extra point of his career to give his team the 20-19 victory.

"We figured if they were going to play off our guys, we’d throw the quick hitch to Steve [Zatarga] and run Brian [Klein] underneath him. It was there for us and it worked," said Coopersville head coach Jim Meerman.

"Bob [Blacquiere] is an excellent coach and he always has excellent teams and an excellent game plan. Whenever we meet up with South Christian, we know it’s going to be a barnburner. We knew it was going to go down to the wire, and it did."

For much of the contest, it appeared uncertain whether either team would be able to score more than 10 points; that’s how stifling both defenses played throughout.

In the first half of play, both teams managed just one touchdown apiece. At intermission, the Broncos led 7-6, the difference being a Mayse point-after.

Coopersville drew first blood on its first possession of the ballgame. After getting outside on a toss sweep, Joe Roper turned the corner and rambled 84 yards down the sideline and into the end zone. Despite his initial success, Roper was held at bay by the Sailors for the duration of the game.

South Christian scored its first points with just 15 seconds remaining in the first half, after taking over on its own 47-yard line with 1:08 remaining before the break. Junior quarterback Rob White found Ben Kloosterman in the end zone from seven yards out to cap a six-play, 53-yard scoring drive and lessen the Broncos lead to 7-6. The South Christian touchdown was made possible by another White-and-Kloosterman collaboration, a 21-yard pass on third-and-19 at the 27-yard line.

After halftime, the Sailors and Broncos entered a defensive struggle with neither team scoring in the third stanza. But that was before both offenses went to work in the final frame.

Coopersville was the first to score in the fourth quarter, taking a 13-6 lead with 9:28 remaining on a 30-yard pass to Klein to cap off a seven-play, 75-yard scoring drive. That would have never materialized had South Christian not been flagged for holding on fourth-and-5 at the 47-yard line prior to a Coopersville punt.

But South Christian overcame the holding penalty and answered back with a score of its own with 4:41 remaining. On second-and-goal at the 7, White connected with his favorite target, Kloosterman, to cap a nine-play, 73-yard drive, which saw the Sailors pull even, 13-13, on a Brad Post extra point.

Things looked even brighter for the Sailors when they recovered the ensuing kickoff, which was fumbled by the Broncos at their own 25-yard line. Three plays later, senior fullback Elwin Kamminga willed his way into the end zone from nine yards out to issue the Sailors their first lead, 19-13, with 3:50 remaining in the game.

The Broncos took over at their own 40-yard line with 3:43 left to play and fought their way into Sailor territory on a Klein reverse that picked up 15 yards. Three plays later, however, linebacker Kamminga shot the gap, sacking Longstreth and forcing a Coopersville fumble, which South Christian recovered at its own 46-yard line.

The Broncos appeared to be facing certain elimination in the opening game of the playoffs, but they stopped the clock with timeouts and forced the Sailors to punt. That is when Coopersville began its miraculous comeback.

"We had this game won," said South Christian coach Bob Blacquiere. "They moved the ball 80 yards into a strong wind, with two minutes remaining and no timeouts. That’s unbelievable.

"We did everything we could to give them this game at the end. But you’ve got to give them credit because they had an offense that was capable of generating that many yards under these conditions. I feel bad for my kids, but I am proud of them for the way they played and the season that we’ve had. My kids have given me everything they’ve had and done as much as they’re capable of."

Coopersville has home-field advantage in the district finals as they square off against Spring Lake on Friday at 7:30.


Friday, October 5
Broncos Clinch Playoff Spot with Homecoming Win,42-14
Joe Roper rushed for 153 yards on 28 carries and three touchdowns for the Broncos, who scored two touchdowns in the first, third and fourth quarter for the Homecoming win against Middleville. The highlight in the opening quarter was a 96-yard interception returned for a touchdown by Nick Noel for Coopersville. Joel Longstreth closed out the game's scoring with a 71-yard touchdown run for the Broncos.

Middleville   0 7 7 0 14

Coopersville 14 0 14 14 42

C--Joe Roper 1 run (Brian Klein run)

C--Nick Noel 96 interception return (kick failed)

M--Dan Erb 17 pass from Tom Baragar (kick good)

M--Tim Brooks 83 run (kick good)

C--Steve Zatarga 24 pass from Joel Longstreth (pass failed)

C--Roper 5 run (Dustin Salinas pass from Longstreth)

C--Roper 2 run (Nick Mayse kick)

C--Jeff Longstreth 71 run (Mayse kick)

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING--Middleville 34-154 (Brooks 6-97), Coopersville 48-310 (Roper 28-153, Klein 9-130).

PASSING--Middleville, Baragar 7-17-4-132. Coopersville, Joel Longstreth 7-11-72.

RECEIVING--Middleville, Erb 4-100. Coopersville, Zatarga 3-50.


Tuesday, September 25
Coach Meerman is Lions Coach of the Week
By Jane Bos
The Grand Rapids Press

   A graduate of Coopersville High School and Grand Valley State University, Jim Meerman returned home to teach and coach. And 17 years ago, two years after this return, he took over as the varsity football coach.
   Meerman has had plenty of success since. He's racked up a 110-51 overall record, which includes two trips to the state finals (1991 and 2000).
   The Broncos (5-0) are ranked No. 1 in the state in Division 4.
   The Broncos defeated Rogers 34-19 Friday to post their 27th- consecutive regular-season victory, earning Meerman the week five honors as Detroit Lions High School Coach of the Week.
   Each winning coach receives a $1,000 donation to his high school's football program. Weekly winners will be honored at halftime of the Lions-Minnesota Vikings game on Dec. 16 at the Silverdome.
   Winners also receive a personalized game ball, a Lions Coach of the Week hat, and a framed certificate signed by Lions head coach Marty Mornhinweg and NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue. The entire team also receives special T-shirts.
   Wyoming Park's Jack VerDuin was the first winner this season.
   "Wow, what an honor," Meerman said. "There are so many people within this program that have made it a success. To be able to take credit for it all, I can't do it. It's an accomplishment that I think the assistant coaches and the athletes we've had here deserve."


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Conference, District, & Regional Champs
A Championship Season!

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The Division 4 State Runner-Ups
Broncos Finish Great Season In State Finals Loss
Saturday November 25, 2000
The GR Press

By Greg Johnson

PONTIAC -- Coopersville didn't stop in its effort to make a game of it, but in the end the Broncos couldn't stop Orchard Lake St. Mary's.

Senior running back Anthony Sherrell broke free for a 23-yard touchdown run with 6:36 remaining in the game to secure the Eaglets' 26-13 victory in the Division 4 state championship football game Friday night at the Silverdome.

"We didn't play the way we usually play at the start and gave up 12 quick points," said Coopersville senior tight end Evan Hair. "I think we played pretty good after the first quarter, but that first 12 points hurt us."

Coopersville, which suffered its first loss of the season, spent the last three quarters battling from behind.

A 70-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Joel Longstreth to a leaping Steve Zatarga on the first play of the second half brought the Broncos within six points. Then a goal-line stand by the defense just minutes later gave the Coopersville fans more hope.

After Orchard Lake's high-powered offense had produced an 18-6 lead, the

Broncos rallied again to pull within five points. This time they marched 63 yards with senior tailback Brian Boom scoring a touchdown on a 14-yard run, and Chris Waldie booting the extra point.

That was when the Eaglets set out on their key drive, however. They went 80 yards in 12 plays, and used 5:36 of the clock on the drive capped by Sherrell's scoring run.

"It was just a hard-fought game, and I give credit to Coopersville," Orchard Lake coach George Porritt said. "We had to earn everything we got. It came down to our seniors making plays. That group played a great football game today.

Orchard Lake made it look like the game would be a rout in the first quarter.

Senior tailback Keyvon Barbee broke free for a 36-yard touchdown run on the Eaglets' first possession to complete a 72-yard drive, and senior wide receiver Grant Mason caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Ryan Ferguson to conclude the second Orchard Lake possession, a drive of 73 yards.

The Broncos stiffened up on defense after that, and started moving the ball.

"I told our kids we played a great team and we stayed right with them," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said. "At first, it looked like it might be a long night, but we battled back and stayed right with them. I'm proud of our team."

Barbee finished with 137 yards on 23 carries to lead the Eaglets, while Sherrell added 91 yards on 16 carries. Ferguson finished 9 of 13 passing for 117 yards and a touchdown.

Boom led Coopersville with 98 yards rushing on 16 carries. Longstreth finished 6 of 14 passing for 140 yards, but suffered two interceptions.

Mike Randall, a senior linebacker for Coopersville, had a rousing game. He led all defenders with 15 tackles, including two for lost yardage.

"We came out a little sluggish. I don't know if we were intimidated," Meerman said. "A couple of turnovers hurt us, a couple of penalties. They don't make mistakes. I don't recall them making a turnover, or getting a penalty, and they played hard-nosed football."

Porritt called the Broncos a great team.

"They made good adjustments, and they hit us," he said. "It came down to our offensive line just staying with it, blocking and making some gaps for Keyvon and Anthony."


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Defense Wins!
Broncos Dominate Cedar Springs
Sunday, November 19, 2000

By Jane Bos
The Grand Rapids Press

The Coopersville football team grabbed a fumble recovery and the momentum on the opening kickoff of its Division 4 semifinal contest against Cedar Springs on Saturday.

And the Broncos didn't let go until the final buzzer sounded.

Four Red Hawk turnovers and five unanswered touchdowns turned into a 38-0 running-clock rout at snowy Houseman Field. About 6,000 chilled fans watched the Broncos advance to their second state championship game.

Coopersville (13-0), which lost in the 1991 Class B title tilt, takes on Orchard Lake St. Mary's (13-0), a 22-12 winner over Detroit St. Martin dePorres on Saturday, at the Silverdome Friday at 8 p.m.

"Coopersville flat-out outplayed us," said Cedar Springs coach Jim Gallery, whose team ends its storybook season 11-2. "We stand in a long line of people that they've beaten and had running clocks on."

The Broncos have forced a running clock -- when a team is up by at least 35 points in the second half -- in nine of their 13 games this season.

"You never expect a running clock, especially in this type of game," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said. "Our defense played well, and our special teams got us off on the right foot."

Early statement

Indeed. Junior Nick Mayse booted the opening kickoff deep, and a swarm of Coopersville defenders caused Cedar Springs to fumble. Dave Parish recovered the ball, and the Broncos had the ball first-and-goal from the Cedar Springs 3-yard line.

It took one play for Brian Boom to blast up the middle into the end zone. Boom added the two-point conversion run, and 47 seconds into the game, the Broncos led 8-0.

"Field position is what this game is all about," Meerman noted.

Of course, speed helps, too. Enter speedy Josh Meerman, the coach's son and a senior tailback.

Late in the first quarter, Josh Meerman raced in the first of three touchdowns, this one a 44-yard run. And again, Boom ran in the two-point conversion, giving Coopersville the 16-0 lead with 1:11 on the clock.

Meerman added a 17-yard touchdown romp in the second quarter and a 54-yard scoring scamper in the third quarter. He also ran in a two-point conversion.

After his third score, Joel Longstreth connected with Evan Hare on the two-point conversion pass, putting the Broncos up 32-0 at halftime.

Boom added the final score, a 4-yard run, late in the third quarter to send the clock running.

Meerman totaled 155 yards on 11 carries. Boom added 38 yards on 13 attempts.

"We struggled last Friday, we just played bad, and coach kind of got after us," said Josh Meerman of Coopersville's 22-21 overtime regional win over Three Rivers.

Like father, like son

Gallery, whose team rebounded from a 2-7 season a year ago and qualified for the playoffs for the first time in school history, also coached the Red Hawks during the 1970s when Jim Meerman played for Coopersville.

Prior to Saturday's game, Gallery referred to the elder Meerman, during his playing days in 1974-76, as "awesome...on my very short list of kids I competed against that I would love to have on my team."

Jim Meerman was bumped down that list on Saturday by his son.

"I told Josh after the game that he was better than his dad," Gallery said. "His dad is a puppy compared to him. I wish that it had been his dad playing today. Against his dad, we won two out of three times."

The high-powered Cedar Springs throwing game was held down by Coopersville's defensive line Saturday, led by senior tackle Scot Klein and a speedy secondary.

Luke Wolfe completed 4 of 15 passes for two interceptions and 29 yards. Mike Randall grabbed one interception, while Nate Thomasma had the other one. Boom recovered a fumble late in the game for Coopersville, too.

While Cedar Springs struggled, one player, senior tackle Andy Crane played his normal game. He recovered two Coopersville fumbles for his 12th and 13th fumble recoveries of the season.

For Coopersville, Longstreth completed 2 of 3 passes for 60 yards. Hare also completed one pass, a 20-yarder to Longstreth.

"This is nice that we could play at Houseman today," Jim Meerman said. "I'm impressed with the field and with our community, and Cedar Springs' crowd, too. This has been a fun day."

Coopersville    16 16 6 0 38

Cedar Springs    0 0 0 0 0

Cpv--Brian Boom 3 run (Boom run)

Cpv--Josh Meerman 44 run (Boom run)

Cpv--Meerman 17 run (Meerman run)

Cpv--Meerman 54 run (Evan Hare pass from Joel Longstreth)

Cpv--Boom 4 run (kick failed)

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING--Coopersville 38-231 (Meerman 11-155), Cedar Springs 35-115 (Kirk Covey 9-49)

PASSING--Coopersville 3-4-0-80 (Longstreth 2-3-0-60), Cedar Springs 4-15-2-29 (Luke Wolfe 4-15-2-29)

RECEIVING--Coopersville, Hare 1-50, Longstreth 1-20, Meerman 1-10. Cedar Springs, Aaron Larson 3-19


Broncos Win Regional Championship in OT, 22-21!!!
Saturday, November 11, 2000

by Greg Johnson
The Grand Rapids Press

THREE RIVERS -- Coach Jim Meerman liked what he saw, and then saw what he liked when the season came down to one play for his Coopersville Broncos.

Senior running back Brian Boom crashed into the end zone on the final play of the game for a two-point conversion and a thrilling 22-21 overtime win over host Three Rivers Friday night.

"I liked what I saw on the play before that for the touchdown, so we went with the stack again and let Brian run it," Meerman said. "It was time to go for it. We had the play. We didn't want another overtime. It was time to end it."

Boom's touchdown set off a wild celebration among the hundreds of fans from Coopersville, and earned the 12-0 Broncos a Division 4 football regional title. It also earned them a spot in the state semifinals next weekend. They will meet the winner of today's Cedar Springs-Kingsford game, which is being played in Cheboygan.

"This is a special team because I've watched them grow up," Meerman said. "My son (Josh) is a senior with this group. I guess if there ever was a team I would take the gamble with, it was this one. I might call it different tomorrow, but I'm glad I went with it tonight."

Three Rivers, which trailed 14-6 with 7:17 remaining in the game, stormed from behind with a 59-yard touchdown drive and a two-point conversion pass to tie the game at 14 with 36 seconds remaining in the game.

That forced the overtime, in which the Broncos won the toss and elected to go with defense first. The Wildcats, taking the first overtime possession at the 10-yard-line, scored in three plays, the last a dramatic 9-yard pass from quarterback Kyle Shaw to Tim Fair. The point after kick gave Three Rivers a 21-14 lead.

Then the Broncos went to overtime work on offense, just 10 yards away. Josh Meerman gained four yards, and then Boom carried twice, the first time for five yards and the last time for the final yard for the touchdown.

That's when Coach Meerman decided on the two-point conversion attempt for the win, instead of the kick for a tie and second overtime.

"We've gone for two points a lot this year, so we're used to needing those plays," he said. "Plus, we had not stopped Three Rivers the last few times they had the ball. It was time to take our shot."

Boom was elated his number was called.

"I wasn't going to stopped," he said. "My lead backs got great blocks like they have all year, and I just ran hard."

Scott Klein, a senior tackle who has played for Meerman for four years, wondered if the going for two points was the right decision for just a second.

"Then I realized he had faith in us," he said.

The overtime ended a tense defensive struggle in which both teams missed some scoring chances. The Broncos had a 7-6 lead at halftime at the end of the third quarter despite a fumble, interception and failing on a fourth-down play at the Three Rivers 2-yard line.

The Broncos cashed in on field position and a Three Rivers mistake with 7:17 to go in the game. That's when a pitch bounced off the hands of Wildcats' tailback Paul Wolgamood, and Coopersville tackle Jerry Toogood recovered the fumble in the end zone for a Bronco touchdown.

The point after kick by Chris Waldie put the Broncos up 14-6, but it proved too good to be true as Three Rivers stormed from behind.

"I was real proud of the way we came back," Three Rivers coach Scot Shaw said. "That was a tough way to lose, but they took their shot, ran a good play. That kid's a tough runner."

Three Rivers finished with 303 total yards to 239 for Coopersville. Duane Buchanan, a 6-3, 215-pound end and linebacker proved especially effective both ways. He caught five passes for 112 yards, and a key two-point conversion pass.

Coopersville    0 7 0 7 8 - 22

Three Rivers    0 6 0 8 7 - 21

TR--Kyle Shaw 1 run (kick failed)

C--Steve Zatarga 13 pass from Joel Longstreth (Chris Waldie kick)

C--Jerry Toogard recovery (Waldie kick)

TR--Paul Wolgamood 1 run ( Duane Buchanan pass from Kyle Shaw).

TR-- Tim Fair 9 pass from Shaw (Josh Bridges kick)

C--Brian Boom 1 run (Boom run)

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING--Three Rivers 175 (Wolgamood 67), Coopersville 167 (Boom 121).

PASSING--Three Rivers 128 (Shaw 9-22-128), Coopersville 72 (Longstreth 5-15-72).


Three Rivers Loses Heartbreaker in OT
Saturday, November 11, 2000

BY DEL NEWELL
KALAMAZOO GAZETTE

THREE RIVERS - Coopersville, which has had a running clock in eight of its previous 11 games, scored the winning points here Friday night as time stood still.

All-state candidate Brian Boom took a pitchout and swept around the left side on a successful 2-point conversion play, giving Coopersville a dramatic 22-21 overtime win over Three Rivers in a high school football classic watched by an overflow crowd of 7,500.

The big win sends Coopersville, now 12-0, into next Saturday's Division 4 semifinal game against the winner of today's game between Cedar Springs (10-1) and Kingsford (10-1).

"We were one play away from being winners," said Three Rivers' disappointed coach Scot Shaw. "I guess a lot of teams say that at this stage of the playoffs."

Three Rivers, closing out perhaps its greatest football season ever with an 11-1 record, sent the game into overtime with a pressure-packed 13-play, 59-yard drive in the closing minutes.

Trailing 14-6, the Wildcats mixed key pass hookups from junior Kyle Shaw to Duval Robinson (11 yards) and tight end Duane Buchanan (14) and the running of Paul Wolgamood to get down to the one, where Wolgamood cracked into the end zone with 36 seconds left.

And then on the all-important 2-point conversion attempt, Shaw rolled out and hit the 6-foot-3 Buchanan in the corner of the end zone to tie the game and force overtime.

Buchanan, who entered the game with seven catches, had four receptions plus the 2-point catch and totaled 96 yards. One of Buchanan's grabs was one-handed and went for a 36-yard pickup that set up Shaw's 1-yard quarterback sneak for a TD in the second quarter.

In the overtime, Three Rivers got the ball first at the 10 and scored inthree plays as Shaw found Chad Fair in a cluster of players just inside the end zone with a 9-yard pass.

John Williams booted the extra point and it was the Wildcats ahead, 21-14.

But Coopersville retaliated as Boom cracked into the end zone from two yards out on third down and then followed with the game-winning conversion run.

"No, I didn't think about it," said Jim Meerman, Coopersville's coach. "We've been going for two a lot this season. They (Three Rivers) sent a lot of people inside, so we gambled and went outside and it paid off."

Asked for his reaction to Coopersville's going for the 2-point conversion, Shaw replied: "I knew it wasn't going another overtime. They were going to win it, or we were going to win it."

Wolgamood, who had over 900 yards rushing coming into the game, finished with 65 hard-earned yards in 22 carries and fullback David Bent had 60 in nine attempts.

Boom totaled 112 yards on 25 carries, although Three Rivers won the statistical battle in a bruising defensive game, 292-224.

Coopersville, which had been averaging 43.3 points, scored in the second quarter on a 14-yard pass from Joel Longstreth to Steve Zatarga and midway through the fourth when Jerry Toogood recovered a Three Rivers fumble in the end zone.

On defense, Three Rivers had plenty of standouts.

Mike McClain and Bent had interceptions and noseguard Larry Banks recovered a fumble and teamed with Jeff Bingaman to stuff Boom on a fourth-and-goal play at the two in the second quarter.

"I'm very happy my seniors had the kind of season they had," said Shaw. "Coopersville deserved to win, but I don't know if we deserved to lose."


Broncos Win District Championship!!!
Saturday, November 4, 2000

By Jane Bos
The Grand Rapids Press

The Coopersville football team used the 'ol 1-2 punch -- literally -- to upend previously unbeaten South Christian Friday night. First, Broncos Nate Thomasma, sporting the No. 1 jersey, hit 'em. Then Josh Meerman, No. 2, ran at 'em. Then they did it again.
By the end of the game, unbeaten Coopersville had punched out a 15-7 come-from-behind Division 4 district final victory over South Christian before about 9,000 frenzied fans at Caledonia's Ralph E. Myers Memorial Stadium.
The Broncos, ranked eighth in the state and champions of the O-K Blue Conference, advance to next weekend's regional at Three Rivers (11-0), a 28-14 winner over sixth-ranked Battle Creek Harper Creek (10-1), on Friday.
"Three Rivers? I like it," said Coopersville coach Jim Meerman. "Why? They don't run the Wing-T. I just can't find the ball in the Wing-T."
Oh, but the Broncos found it in time Friday against a talented and crafty O-K Gold champion South Christian team, which ended the year rated ninth in the state.
And in the third quarter, they made it tough for the Sailors to catch them.
Trailing 7-0 after a South Christian Hail Mary touchdown pass ended the first half, the Broncos got tough. In less than three minutes, Coopersville tied the game and took the lead.
The first score got its start when Bronco senior Evan Hare booted a 60-yard punt down to the Coopersville 2-yard line. Five plays later, on a third-and-10 from the 17, Thomasma sacked quarterback Ryan DeMann for a 10-yard loss.
Enter the potent Bronco offense and Josh Meerman, the coach's speedy son. On the first play, Joel Longstreth threw a 41-yard scoring pass to Meerman. Chris Waldie kicked the point-after, tying the game at 7-7 midway through the third quarter.
Coopersville needed two plays to score on its next possession. This time, Meerman raced in for a 63-yard touchdown, getting a key block from Hare along the way. Thomasma ran in the two-point conversion, posting the final margin of victory with 3:56 left in the third.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Sailors had one last chance to score, and they went for it at fourth-and-seven on the Broncos' 10. But again it was Thomasma who came up big. He recorded the 6-yard sack to give the ball back to Coopersville with 2:44 left in the game.
"That was a great call by the coaches," Thomasma said of that final corner blitz. "I was watching the quarterback, and when I saw him pull out, I just got to him."
On its final possession, Coopersville senior Brian Boom ran for over 30 yards on five carries to help the Broncos kill the clock.
"I just ran it like normal," said Boom, who led the Broncos with 157 yards on the ground. "I just held on to the ball with two hands and ran."
Coopersville, which outrushed the Sailors 257-203, also received 102 yards rushing from Meerman. South Christian was led offensively by Kris Holstege with 80 yards and Ted Newhof with 61.
"This is a great team we had this year, as good as any I've ever had," said South Christian 19-year coach Bob Blacquiere, whose team lost in the state finals a year ago. "But between the tackles, (Coopersville) owned us. Every yard we had, we had to scrap for. They are very strong and intense and quick. That's the strongest defense we've seen in at least two years."
In the final .6 seconds of the first half, the Broncos' vaunted defense had a break down.
After a scoreless first half which included three punts, three turnovers on downs, two interceptions and not much offense by either team, South Christian scored on a 34-yard pass as time ran out. DeMann connected with Newhof at the 2-yard line, and Newhof muscled his way in for the touchdown.
"No, we weren't worried," Josh Meerman said about Friday's halftime, the first one in which they trailed this season. "We just talked about what we could do to score. We were confident we could score."
A year ago, an unbeaten Broncos team lost a heartbreaker in the regional finals to Menominee and missed out on the showdown with South Christian. The Sailors wound up beating Menominee in the semifinals and heading to the Silverdome.
This year, Coopersville won the much-anticipated contest with the Sailors. This year, it's the Broncos' turn to make the run to the Silverdome.
"I hope they go a long way," Blacquiere said. "They are a classy outfit."
For Jim Meerman and his Broncos, edging the Sailors was a critical step. A big step.
"That is a great program," Meerman said about South Christian. "Bob is a great coach. That was a tough game. They took it to us. I didn't know how our kids would react at halftime (to being down), and they responded well."
Very, very well.


Broncos Romp to 48-14 Win; Sailors Up Next
By Steve Kaminski
The Grand Rapids Press

Coopersville senior running back Brian Boom had already set one school scoring record this fall, and it took him just one half Friday night to set another.

Boom rushed for five touchdowns in the first two quarters to lead the host Broncos to a 48-14 victory over Comstock in the opening round of the Division 4 state playoffs. The Broncos (10-0) will advance to round two against South Christian next week.

Boom scored on runs of 2, 2, 4, 9 and 9 yards to spark the Broncos to a commanding 34-6 halftime lead. Boom, who finished 93 yards rushing after sitting out most of the second half, scored 22 touchdowns during the regular season, which set a school record.

Broncos coach Jim Meerman said he was pretty sure that five touchdowns for a Coopersville player in a single game was also a school record.

"He set our school record for most touchdowns in a season, and I think the five tonight was another record," Meerman said. "We have an I-backfield, and our backs come right at you.

"I think Brian ran well, and so did Josh (Meerman), and Josh Corners is our blocking back. A lot of credit has to go to the offensive line too because they do an awesome job. The backs usually get the attention, but our line has done a great job."

The Broncos needed just three plays to march 62 yards in the opening moments of the third quarter to go up 41-6, which meant the game went to a running clock. The drive was capped when quarterback Joel Longstreth threw a 34-yard scoring strike to Ryan Lillibridge, and it enabled the Broncos to go to the running clock for the eighth time in 10 games this fall.

Senior defensive back Nate Thomasma intercepted two passes for the Broncos. His second pick came in the third, and he lateral the ball to Nick Lillie, who scampered 42 yards for Coopersville's final touchdown.

"Nate has led our team in tackles this year, and he has been a leader," Meerman said. "He is an all-conference cornerback, and he does an excellent job for us.

"Comstock has an excellent quarterback, and we knew they were going to move the ball. But the key was that they couldn't stop our offense. We didn't have to punt all night."

Comstock (7-2) scored early in the second half when quarterback Jon Fosburg connected with receiver Zach Tooco for an 8-yard touchdown pass, cutting the deficit to 20-6. However, any momentum the Colts gained was quickly dashed when Josh Meerman returned the ensuing kickoff 53 yards to the Comstock 37. That set up another Boom touchdown four plays later.

Next week's game against South Christian will be a battle of unbeaten teams, since the Sailors also improved to 10-0 with Friday's win over Allegan. The Sailors will host the game.

"South Christian has a good program, and we used to be in the same league together so we know each other well," Meerman said. "It's going to be a good battle. It has been what everyone has been waiting to see."


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Broncos Claim Championship; Perfect Record
By Steve Kaminski
The Grand Rapids Press

Here's something none of the 6,000 spectators thought they would hear during Friday night's football game between Byron Center and Coopersville.
"We will now go to a running clock," Coopersville announcer Ross Conran said midway through the third quarter, which was greeted with great approval from the home crowd.
The Broncos beat Byron Center 39-10 in the much-anticipated showdown between the two unbeaten teams, and the victory enabled Coopersville to clinch its second straight O-K Blue Conference championship.
Coopersville scored 27 second-quarter points to go up 33-0 at halftime, then punched in another touchdown on its first possession of the third quarter to seal it.
Coopersville forced four turnovers, including three first-half interceptions.
The most crucial came with the Broncos up 6-0 in the second. Senior Josh Meerman snared a Byron pass at the Bulldogs 30 and scampered in for the touchdown to help break the game open.
"We knew defensively if we could get them to turn the ball over, we had a shot because they throw the ball a lot," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said. "This team has a lot of special kids on the team, and we can make things happen.
"We told them (Thursday night) to play good defense, and that the athletes had to take over. We did it."
Brian Boom paced Coopersville's ground attack with 172 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns. Josh Meerman rushed for 98 yards, tallied a 57-yard touchdown and scored two 2-point conversions.
But Josh Meerman's interception was the turning point, and Friday's game marked the first time he has played defense this year. Josh, with the help of his buddies, then celebrated in the final minutes by dumping a water cooler over his dad's head.
"They run a real wide-open set, and we pulled out an outside linebacker and put in an extra defensive back, and it happened to be Josh," Jim Meerman said. "We were then able to double team (Byron Center receiver John) Freund more, and Josh came up with a great pick. I think that got us going."
Byron Center, 8-1, is also headed to the playoffs, and the Bulldogs did score 10 points in the fourth quarter. Joe Selvig, who rushed for 98 yards, scored on a 21-yard touchdown run. Rob Fron then booted a 43-yard field goal.
"We just have to get tougher up front, we have to get mentally tougher, we have to play as a team and rebound from this," Byron Center coach Gasper Giarmo said. "We're 8-1 and headed to the playoffs. My hats off to Coops, they beat us fair and square, and they beat us up front where the game is usually won and lost. Jim does a great job with his program, and I wish him the best in the playoffs.
"I'm embarrassed, and I think our players are embarrassed by our performance. We like to think we are a better team than we displayed. But we have a game to play next week, and we are going to rebound."
The Bulldogs did move the ball early, but the turnovers were costly.
Byron Center's Jed Roberts rambled 60 yards on the game's first play from scrimmage to give the Bulldogs possession at the Coopersville 26. But Coopersville's Nick Lillie's interception on the next play stopped the drive, and the Broncos marched back downfield and grabbed a 6-0 lead on Boom's 1-yard run.
Brian Klein's interception in the Broncos' end zone on Byron's next possession halted a second drive.
"You take away the turnovers, and maybe the score would have been different," Giarmo said. "But the cold hard facts are that we turned the ball over, and in a game like this, the turnovers kill you."



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Bronco's Season Ends, 20-16
This is the article from the GR Press
Written by Brandon Wright

MARQUETTE -- Menominee's single-wing offense has often highlighted the team's success. The defense made its case for recognition Saturday.

Menominee rallied from a 14-point deficit and shut down Coopersville's vaunted offense during the second half to finish with a 20-16 victory in the Division 4 regional finals at the Superior Dome.

Menominee (11-1) will now play South Christian Saturday at the Superior Dome in the state semifinals. Coopersville's dream season ends at (11-1).

"Things certainly looked bleak for us during the first half," said Maroons coach Ken Hofer. "Our kids picked it up. We were able to find a way to come back."

Menominee dodged a bullet on Coopersville's fake punt in the second half that fell incomplete. The Maroons quickly took advantage. Back Drew Buyarski took the snap, darted to his right, broke two tackles and scored on a 27-yard run for a 20-14 lead during the third quarter.

"(Buyarski) is something else," Hofer said. "If he's not the best back in the state, I don't know who is."

The Broncos trailed by six points with four minutes left and the Maroons, the defending Class BB champions, had the ball. Defensive back Kurt Phillips revived the Broncos when he stripped the ball away from one of the Maroons' deceptive backs. Coopersville took over at the 22.

"We needed the ball and Phillips got it for us," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said. "That was a big play."

The Broncos took over at the 22-yard line and moved to Menominee 1 with less than two minutes left. But on third-and-goal from the 1, a bad snap and fumble moved the ball to the 6. An incomplete pass on fourth down all but ended the Broncos' hopes.

"We were in too many long-down situations during the second half," Meerman said. "We had opportunities. We just didn't make the plays."

The Maroons took a safety with three seconds left, and Coopersville's season ended when Tommy King was tackled on the kickoff return.

The first half was a different story. King, who rushed for 98 yards and two touchdowns, scored his first from the 1 to give Coopersville an 8-0 lead.

Coopersville's defense made another solid stand during the Maroons' second possession. Fullback Nick Brukardt was stopped cold on a fourth-and-three at the Broncos' 47. Coopersville took over and sustained a 53-yard, 14-play drive, capped by King's 1-yard run, for a 14-0 lead.

But the Maroons put together a successful drive and scored from the 1 to pull within a touchdown.

Menominee kept up the pressure on defense, forcing Coopersville to punt on four downs. Buyarski connected with receiver Brett Peterson for a 13-yard touchdown that capped a seven-play drive and pulled the Maroons into a 14-14 halftime tie.



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1999 District Champions!!!
Bronco's Buck Belding 18-8; Win Distict Championship
Sunday, November 7, 1999
By Jane Bos
GR Press

Coopersville football coach Jim Meerman paced the sidelines and glanced at the scoreboard during the fourth quarter of his Division 4 district final Saturday afternoon.

"Tick, tock. Tick, tock," he said. "Let that clock tick." His encouragement finally paid off. Time expired. His Broncos earned an 18-8 win over visiting Belding before a boisterous standing-room-only crowd at Robinson Field.

O-K Blue champ Coopersville (11-0), ranked sixth in the state, advances to a regional at Marquette's Superior Dome next Saturday. The Broncos take on seventh-ranked Menominee (10-1), the defending Class BB state titlist.

Belding (7-4) ends its season short of the semifinals for the first time since 1993.

Coopersville lost the battle with the Belding mystique during the opening minutes. On the third play of the game, Belding's David Wright rushed in a 41-yard touchdown. Quarterback Richard Mason connected with Paul Cummings on the two-point conversion to give the two-time defending state runners-up a quick 8-0 lead.

Right about then Coopersville got tough.

Yes, they dropped a pass in the end zone on their first possession followed by a fumble inside the 20. But on the charmed third time down, they scored.

With 4:18 left in the first half, Jason Stuyfzand threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Brian Boom in the end zone. The two-point conversion run failed.

"It's just awesome," Boom said. "We're excited to go to the Yooperdome. Going this far is tradition for Belding, and they came out like they expected to go again. We were flat. We took it to them the rest of the game."

They took it to them. And they one-upped them.

On the second play in the second half, Coopersville scored on Tommy King's 62-yard run. The two-point conversion failed again, but the Broncos led 12-8.

Coopersville added its final touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. This time Boom, playing for starting running back Josh Meerman who's sidelined with mononucleosis, scored on a 17-yard run. This is the second straight week Boom has stepped into a starting role and excelled.

"I've been getting in every so often on offense," Boom said and shrugged when asked about his new role. "I knew what I was doing."

Coopersville's defense did, too. The Broncos limited Belding to 202 yards rushing and 11 yards passing. Paul Cummings led the way with 92 yards.

King paced the Broncos with 162 yards on the ground. Stuyfzand completed 5 of 11 passes for 191 yards.

"We were excited to score on them early, they haven't given up too many points this year," said Belding coach Joel Wilker. "For us to score early was a good start for us. Our offense wasn't as effective after that.

"Coopersville is a great team. They are a class act, too. I hope they continue on."




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1999 OK Blue Champions!!!
Bronco's Claim League Championship!
By Steve Kaminski
The Grand Rapids Press

Coopersville school officials were forced to bring in a new scoring system after lightning struck the football field's scoreboard last week.

Who said lightning doesn't strike the same place twice? This time the Broncos lit up the scoreboard Friday night in a 40-8 victory over Hamilton. The Broncos scored touchdowns on their first three possessions, eventually led 28-0 at halftime and cruised to the victory.

The Broncos and Hawkeyes both are headed to the state playoffs, but the two teams first squared off to decide the O-K Blue Conference championship. Coopersville's win gave the Broncos the title outright and enabled them to finish the season 9-0.

It marks the second time in school history that the Broncos have gone undefeated in the regular season, with the first time coming in 1991 when Coopersville finished second in the state.

"We came out a little sluggish last week (versus Spring Lake), and we worked all week to make sure it wouldn't happen again," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said. "We have had great senior leadership all season, and I think that came through tonight. They set the stage this week, and they finished it off tonight."

Coopersville had two running backs rush for 100 yards in Tommy King and Josh Meerman. King gained106 yards on 19 carries, and he scored on 5-yard touchdown run. He also scored on a 20-yard screen pass on a fourth-and-goal play with nine seconds left in the first half.

Meerman, who rushed for 108 yards on seven carries, scored on runs of 33 and 45 yards. Coopersville's Mike Randall scored Coopersville's final touchdown on a 45-yard run.

Broncos quarterback Jason Stuyfzand threw only eight times, but two of his passes went for second-quarter touchdowns. Stuyfzand connected with Evan Hare for a 19-yard score before hooking up with King on the screen pass.

"We have a lot of weapons, and it showed tonight," Meerman said. "Josh played real well, and of course, Tommy is always a threat, he is such a power runner. And I think our quarterback, Jason Stuyfzand, gets better and better every week."

But Coopersville's dominance began with defense. The Broncos kept the Hawkeyes pinned up through most of the first half. Coopersville's first three possessions of the game began in Hamilton territory, and each drive resulted in a touchdown.

"They deserve all the credit," said Hamilton coach Terry Stehle, whose team dropped to 6-3. "They just took it to us, and it didn't matter what was going on, whether it was offense, defense, kickoffs, kickoff receive, they did everything a lot better than we did. They are going to go a long ways. It will take a very good team to beat them."



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Broncos Keep Friendship Trophy Where It Belongs
Running back Ben Kline and receiver Jarrison Jewett got Coopersville out to a fast start en route to a 27-14 decision over Sparta Thursday night.

Jewett opened the Broncos' scoring when he hauled in a 27-yard touchdown pass thrown by Steve Veldman in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Kline ran 17 yards for a score before Sean Senna rushed 2 yards into the end zone to send Coopersville to a 21-0 halftime lead. Stacy Schaefer added three extra point kicks for the Broncos.

Jewett also returned a fumble 82 yards for a score in the fourth quarter. He finished the night with three receptions for 75 yards, while Veldman was 4-for-6 passing for 95 yards.

Kline carried 22 times for 115 yards.

Sparta got scoring runs of 7 and 2 yards from Seth Bowhuis in the fourth quarter.

Bowhuis had 86 yards on seven tries.

The Broncos' Jake Visser recorded 10 tackles.

Coopersville visits Muskegon Orchard View in a nonleague game Friday, kickoff is at 7:00 PM

Coopersville 27, Sparta 14


Sparta          0 0 0 14--14
Coopersville    7 14 6 0--27

C--Jarrison Jewett 27 pass from Steve Veldman (Stacy Schaefer kick)

C--Ben Kline 17 run (Schaefer kick)

C--Sean Senna 2 run (Schaefer kick)

C--Jewett 82 fumble return (kick failed)

S--Seth Bowhuis 7 run (Mike Jones kick)

S--Bowhuis 2 run (Jones kick)

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING--Coopersville 40-153 (Kline 22-115). Sparta 31-169 (Bowhuis 7-86).

PASSING--Coopersville, Veldman 4-6-1-95. Sparta, Sean Moody 6-26-65.

RECEIVING--Coopersville, Jewett 3-75. Sparta, Chris Carrow 2-31.

TACKLES--Coopersville, Jake Visser 10.


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Broncos hope to take care of business on the field
By Jeff Chaney
The Grand Rapids Press

COOPERSVILLE -- Coopersville football coach Jim Meerman had more to worry about during the preseason than just getting his team ready for the upcoming year.
   
Thanks to the realignment of the O-K Conferences, the O-K Blue Conference was left with only six teams, causing a scheduling problem for the teams left behind.

Not only did the Broncos lose long-time conference rivals Byron Center and Middleville, which moved to the O-K Gold, but they are still searching for a ninth game.

Meerman does not think a program like the one he has built in the past 20 years should be scrambling to find a ninth opponent.

"We are not happy about the realignment," Meerman said. "We have been left out trying to find games and that hasn't helped us. We felt our league was a very competitive league, then they take two schools out, and now we are trying to find games. We don't have a game nine yet, so we are going to play eight."

Last year, the Broncos went 9-0 during the regular season, and finished 11-1 overall after a loss to eventual state champion South Christian in a Division 4 regional game.

This year, at least for now, Coopersville will be looking to go 8-0.

The Broncos have won in the past with solid skill players, and gritty, undersized linemen. Coopersville will be bigger up front this year, and inexperienced at the skill positions.

"We have real big kids this year," Meerman said. "We usually don't have kids this size, both offensively and defensively up front. I think that will be our strength this year, our play up front on both offense and defense.

"The key to this team will be our skill position people," he added. "In the past that has been our strength, but this year we have to find kids to fill in. We had a pretty good junior varsity team last year, so we do have some good juniors coming up. We are just going to have to come out of the blocks strong and develop some talent in the skill positions."

Seniors Jake Visser at tackle, Dale Wohlford at center and Justin Strohn at guard and junior tackle Andy Anderson give the Broncos almost 1,000 pounds of experience on offense and defense.

"We are big and we're not used to that," said Visser, who was honorable mention all-state last year at tackle. "Hopefully we are going to push some people around this year.

"We are going to have some young players on the team, but I still think we can be quite good," he added. "I'm excited for the year."

In the backfield, Coopersville will have senior quarterback Steve Veldman, who saw limited action last year, and fullback/defensive end Josh Wenger.

Meerman said Coopersville still is trying to find a ninth opponent.

"I think this process is going to be good down the road with all of the scheduling," Meerman said. "We will be adding teams in the future (to the O-K Conferences), and eventually we will get back to an eight-team league. Right now I don't know, it'll be different."


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OK Blue Standings & Game Results
Click on the Title to see the standings and game scores for teams in the OK Blue this season

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Strong 2nd Half Leads to Victory
A rematch of last year's Division 4 state playoff encounter between Coopersville and Muskegon Orchard View proved to be a shootout Friday night.

The visiting Broncos pulled out a 30-20 victory in the non-league matchup.

Coopersville, which prevailed 41-6 in the state playoffs last season, rallied from a 14-12 halftime deficit. The team scored three unanswered touchdowns in the second half.

Alan Longstreet returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter and Bret Sommers had TD runs of 19 and 47 yards in the fourth quarter to pull ahead.

Ben Kline scored both first-half TDs for the Broncos on runs of 2 and 3 yards.

Senior quarterback Ryan Moore scored the first touchdown of the game for Orchard View on a 10-yard run in the first quarter. He hit senior Chris Gibson with a 2-point conversion pass for an 8-0 advantage.

Gibson had a 14-yard TD run in the second quarter.

Jason Hernandez, a senior, capped the scoring for the Cardinals with a 62-yard TD burst in the fourth quarter.

Coopersville travels to Belding next Friday.




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Broncos Run Past Belding 40-6
Saturday, September 13, 2003

By Jeff Chaney
The Grand Rapids Press

Ben Kline paced the Coopersville sidelines Friday trying to catch his breath.   
   
The 5-foot-8, 155 pound running back was short of breath because of all the sprinting he was doing up and down the field against host Belding.

Kline rushed for three long touchdowns in helping Coopersville to a 40-6 win over its O-K Blue Conference rival at Rudness Field.

Kline scored on runs of 37 and 35 yards in the first half to give the Broncos a 13-6 halftime lead. He also had a 22-yard burst in the fourth quarter.

Kline finished with 171 yards on 17 carries.

"I did get a little tired out there. It felt like sprints," Kline said. " I was a little surprised with how many long runs I had, but I have to give my line all the credit, they blocked great."

Kline wasn't the only Coopersville running back to take advantage of excellent blocking by the big guys up front.

Senior running back Jeff Longstreth scored a 43-yard touchdown, senior fullback Bret Sommers scored from 46 yards and junior reserve Mike Zimmer scored on a 40-yard burst -- all in the second half.

Coopersville (3-0) rushed for 379 yards.

"I was a little surprised we broke so many long runs, especially in the first half," said Coopersville coach Jim Meerman.

"Our line did an excellent job and once our defense relaxed a little bit after the first half, they played well. On the most part we kept the ball out of (Belding's) hands, and that is what you want to do against a team like Belding because they like to control the ball with long drives."

While Meerman was happy with his team's play in all phases of the game, the same couldn't be said on the other sideline.

Belding had seven penalties and three turnovers and could do little to stop the Coopersville offense.

"We keep talking about cutting out the little mistakes," said Belding coach Joel Wilker, whose team is 1-2. "I thought we played pretty tough, especially in the first half, but the mistakes caught up with us.

"Plus, I'm not sure we tackled as well as we could have. But you have to give Coopersville credit, they are a good football team."

Belding lone score was a 23-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brian VanWagoner to Chad Hetherman in the first quarter.

Meerman, who admitted his coaching staff was a little nervous entering the game, said his team showed strong character in the victory.

"I was worried about our young team coming in here to play," Meerman said. "This is a tough place to play, but we played well, and I was a little surprised with the outcome."



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Broncos Run Away From Godwin, 46-6
By Kelly Hill
The Grand Rapids Press

Coopersville's defense allowed Godwin Heights only 60 yards of offense Friday night as the Broncos pounded the Wolverines 46-6 in an O-K Blue Conference football game at Coopersville.   
   
Godwin Heights' wide-open offense managed only 70 yards passing as Wolverines quarterback Nyck Guyton completed 12 of 21 passes. The Coopersville defense held Godwin Heights to minus-10 yards rushing.

"I thought our defense played well," said Coopersville coach Jim Meerman. "We completely took away their offense. They have some skill players who can score a lot of points, but we took that away from them."

Godwin Heights' lone touchdown came early in the fourth quarter, after the Broncos had built a 40-0 lead and Meerman had begun to empty his bench.

Six Broncos scored touchdowns as Coopersville racked up 333 yards rushing and 57 passing. Senior running back Bret Sommers carried the ball only six times but rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown. He had runs of 19, 27 and 40 yards and scored from six yards out.

Junior Matt Jansma, who was the seventh Bronco to carry the football, rushed for 86 yards.

"Offensively we had a few penalties that hurt us on a couple of drives," said Meerman, whose Broncos were penalized 10 times for 100 yards. "We haven't had penalties like that all year and even though we had a few (penalties) tonight, our kids played well and got the job done."

Godwin Heights was penalized seven times for 63 yards.

Coopersville took its 40-0 lead as Sommers and junior Garison Jewett scored in the first quarter and Stacy Schaefer added the first of four extra-point kicks. Senior Jeff Longstreth and senior quarterback Steve Veldman scored in the second quarter while Longstreth and junior Mike Zimmer scored in the third quarter.

After Godwin Heights' Guyton connected with senior Ricky Bsharah on a 13-yard scoring pass in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter, Coopersville scored its final touchdown on a 2-yard run by junior Jade Anderson, who was the 10th of 11 Broncos who carried the football.

"The key for us is to be consistent. Coopersville is consistent and we are not consistent," said Godwin Heights coach Andy Dent. "That takes reps, reps and more reps in practice.

"That is a good football team," Dent said of the Broncos. "They never hurt themselves and they have an outstanding offensive line. Defensively, they are a ferocious football team."

Dent and the Wolverines tried to incorporate a few new offensive twists in preparation for the Broncos, but nothing worked.

"We tried to do some new things, but they were overpowering," Dent said of the Broncos.

"We are not physically where they are. They are a physically dominating football team."


Godwin Heights ... 0 0 0 6-- 6

Coopersville ... 14 13 13 6--46

C--Bret Sommers 6 run (Stacy Schaefer kick)

C--Garison Jewett 12 pass from Steve Veldman (Schaefer kick)

C--Jeff Longstreth 10 run (Schaefer kick)

C--Veldman 1 run (kick failed)

C--Longstreth 3 run (Schaefer kick)

C--Mike Zimmer 1 run (kick failed)

G--Ricky Bsharah 13 pass from Nyck Guyton (kick failed)

C--Jade Anderson 2 run (kick failed)

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING--Godwin Heights 27-(-10) (William Bailey 8-39), Coopersville 49-333 (Sommers 6-100).

PASSING--Godwin Heights, Guyton 12-21-70-1, Coopersville, Veldman (5-12-57-1).


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Broncos Earn Playoff Birth With Their 5th Win
Saturday, September 27, 2003

By Jeff Chaney
The Grand Rapids Press

Coopersville used a quick start Friday night against visiting Calvin Christian to reach its first goal of the season.   
   
The Broncos put up three first-quarter scores before the Squires knew what hit them on their way to 33-18 O-K Blue Conference win.

The win kept Coopersville perfect at 5-0 and qualified the team for the playoffs under state rules, which require five wins in an eight-game schedule.

"One of our goals was to qualify for the playoffs, and we accomplished that tonight," said Coopersville coach Jim Meerman, whose team qualified for its sixth straight playoff berth. "Next week, we have our game at Hamilton and would like to get our next goal of winning the league championship."

The Broncos did something different and went to the air to build their lead. Quarterback Steve Veldman had two touchdown passes in the first quarter, one to Garison Jewett and one to Ben Kline that gave Coopersville a 14-0 lead just over five minutes into the game.

The next score came thanks to the defense. With Calvin Christian driving in the Broncos' red zone, Jewett went to sack Calvin Christian quarterback Jonathan Oosterbaan, then snatched the ball from him and raced 90 yards for a score.

The Squires cut the lead to 21-6 before halftime on a 3-yard run by running back Charlie DeWitte.

It rained hard during a scoreless third quarter, but Meerman was looking for more.

"I think we got a little complacent," he said. "Calvin has played some good football this year, and we knew they had a good team coming in.

"They sent a lot of players on defense to try and stop the run, and it was hard to throw the ball in the rain in the second half," Meerman added. "I thought our kids played well, but we did get complacent there."

Coopersville scored twice in the fourth quarter on long touchdown runs by Kline of 72 and 45 yards. He finished with 196 yards on 18 carries.

Calvin Christian also had a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns, on scoring passes from Oosterbaan. He hit Mike Green on a 58-yard strike and Cody Canan on a 13-yard touchdown pass late in the game.

Oosterbaan finished completing 18 of 30 passes for 231 yards.

"I'm not disappointed with how my kids played," Calvin Christian coach Syd Harvey said. "Coopersville beat us, but I thought we played well. We made some mistakes, but we were competitive."



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Slow start results in 1st loss for Broncos
Saturday, October 04, 2003

By Steve Kaminski
The Grand Rapids Press

Friday night's football game between Hamilton and Coopersville had dazzling runs from both teams, but no one sprinted faster than Hawkeyes coach Chris Myers.
   
An overjoyed Myers took off from midfield after shaking hands with the Broncos and raced to the sidelines to celebrate Hamilton's 19-13 win with his players and fans.

Not only did the Hawkeyes knock off the No. 1-ranked team in Division 4, but the win gave Hamilton a share of its first O-K Blue Conference championship after beating the four-time defending league champions. Hamilton can wrap up the title outright with a win over Belding this coming Friday.

The Hawkeyes jumped out to a 19-0 halftime lead, then held off a second-half Coopersville surge to improve to 6-0.

"This is so hard to explain because you dedicate so much of your life to it," said Myers, who also did a somersault on the wet, muddy grass as time expired. "Every coach on the staff is away from his family and working all week, the kids are working hard and it's tough for everyone.

"But when you work so hard for something and it comes true, it's emotionally overwhelming. There are few feelings in the world like that."

Coopersville, 5-1, scored a pair of third-quarter touchdowns to climb back in it. Junior Ben Kline, who finished with 147 yards, rushed for a 67-yard score on the Broncos' opening possession of the second half, and senior Bret Sommers ran 14 yards for another touchdown the next time the Broncos had the ball.

Hamilton failed to score in the second half, but managed to run out the game's final 8:08. The drive started at the Hamilton 16, and the Hawkeyes marched downfield, converting three fourth-down plays along the way. Myers even elected to go for it on fourth and inches at his own 25.

"It's great to have a coach who trusts us so much," said Hamilton senior Dustin Smith, who picked up that fourth-and-inches first down with an 8-yard run. "And our line trusted me to get where we need to be."

"We said, fourth-and-inches, mano a mano, let's go," Myers added. "We got off the rock and played power football. That's all. That's what we did. All it was was power football."

Coopersville committed three first-half turnovers and didn't earn a first down in the opening quarter. But the Broncos offense got rolling in the second quarter after the Hawkeyes grabbed their 19-0 lead. Coopersville marched down to the Hamilton 16 on a drive that consumed more than eight minutes, but the Hawkeyes ended the threat when Smith intercepted the Broncos at his own 1.

"We made a lot of mistakes in the first half, but on the other hand, they made a lot of big plays," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said. "When you have a big game, your kids have to make big plays.

"I thought our kids came back and played well in the second half. They kept their heads up and gave them a run."

Big plays keyed Hamilton's commanding halftime lead. Smith ran in Hamilton's first touchdown from 5 yards out, a score that Smith set up when he fired a 40-yard pass to Joey Cole off of an option reverse. That gave Hamilton possession at the Broncos 10.

Hamilton's Matt Mokma rambled 45 yards up the middle for a touchdown on the Hawkeyes' next possession to give his team a 12-0 lead with 2:34 to go in the first. Kyle Williamson recovered a Broncos fumble at the Coopersville 31 early in the second, and one play later, Hawkeyes quarterback Daniel Saenebouttareth fired a touchdown pass to Smith.

"This is awesome. We beat the number one team in the state, baby," Saenebouttareth said. "We had a great week of practice, and it all came together."

Coopersville ... 0 0 13 0--13

Hamilton ... 12 7 0 0--19

H--Dustin Smith 5 run (kick failed)

H--Matt Mokma 45 run (run failed)

H--Smith 31 pass from Daniel Saenebouttareth (Smith kick)

C--Ben Kline 67 run (Stacy Schaefer kick)

C--Bret Sommers 14 run (kick failed)

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING--Coopersville, Ben Kline 32-147, Hamilton, Dustin Smith 24-94.

PASSING--Coopersville, Steve Veldman 2-5-0-12. Hamilton, Saenebouttareth 1-6-0-31.

RECEIVING--Coopersville, Zach Bush 1-10, Hamilton, Joey Cole 1-40.



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Broncos Claim Homecoming Victory
Saturday, October 11, 2003

The Grand Rapids Press

Coopersville ran roughshod over host Rogers in an O-K Blue Conference encounter Friday night.
   
Ben Kline scored the first of five straight rushing touchdowns in the first half as the Broncos, ranked fifth in the state in Division 4, trampled Rogers, 35-18.

Kline, who finished with a team-leading 109 yards on 13 carries, started the scoring parade for the Broncos (6-1, 4-1 O-K Blue) with a 2-yard TD run in the first quarter. Sean Senna had a 4-yard scoring run and Brett Sommers scampered 35 yards for a third rushing TD in the opening period.

Steve Veldman had an 18-yard TD run and Sommers added a 13-yard TD run in the second.

Stacy Schaefer was a perfect 5-for-5 on extra-point attempts.

"We played well offensively and defensively," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said. "It was a team win for homecomeing. We had a lot of kids play."

Kevin Halonen threw a 9-yard TD pass to Christopher Goad to get the Golden Hawks (1-6, 1-4 Blue) on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter.

Nick Hamann, who had 73 yards rushing on 16 attempts, added an 8-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. Halonen capped the scoring for Rogers with a 22-yard TD strike to Jason Whitten.


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Hopkins Hands Coops 2nd Loss of the Season
Saturday, October 18, 2003

By Steve Ungrey
The Grand Rapids Press

Shock. Surprise. Disbelief.

Pick any of these words and chances are they apply to what Hopkins football players Josh Lanser and Lance Washburn are feeling right now.

Chances are it still hasn't sunk in that their team pulled off one of the bigger upsets of the high school football season, as the Vikings stunned state-ranked Coopersville, 20-7, in an O-K Blue/Silver crossover game between the second-place schools.

The Vikings, who were not ranked in Division 6 entering the game, pretty much shut down Coopersville's attack. The Broncos came into the game ranked fourth in Division 4.

"I knew we had it in us, but I still looked at the size on that defensive line and knew we'd be in for a game," Lanser said.

Instead, it was the Vikings that gave Coopersville plenty of problems throughout.

"Tonight, that's the best all year we've played on defense," Hopkins coach Rex Weaver said. "We just had to keep them off balance. This was huge, unbelievable. It's a big win for us."

Hopkins held Coopersville to six first downs for the game. The Broncos only ground out 231 yards, including 164 yards rushing. Coopersville came in averaging 255 yards on the ground.

"It just seemed like we couldn't get anything going," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said. "Hopkins just grinds out the yards and that's a well-coached football team. We have to be able to run the football and sustain drives."

Ben Kline took the handoff on a draw play and ran 54 yards up the middle for the Broncos' only touchdown of the game. Kline finished the game with 156 yards rushing on 17 carries.

Otherwise, the story was all Hopkins.

Greg Pavlak scored on a 5-yard touchdown run in the first quarter to start the scoring for Hopkins. Quarterback Brent Wendt made it 14-0 on a 1-yard keeper.

Lance Washburn scored the final touchdown on a 3-yard run.

"When our defense started stepping up big, I knew we had a chance in this game," Washburn said.

The Vikings had 305 yards total offense, with Lanser running 21 times for 132 yards.

Hopkins' Justin Schaendorf and Brian Johnson combined for 20 tackles, as the Vikings gained a huge boost of momentum heading into the final regular-season game with Montrose on Saturday.

Coopersville's eight-game regular season schedule is complete at 6-2. The Broncos needed five wins to qualify for the playoffs, per Michigan High School Athletic Association rules.

"A loss like this, that can't help us with hosting games," Meerman said.

Hopkins 20, Coopersville 7

Coopersville ... 0 0 7 0-- 7

Hopkins ... 0 14 0 6--20

H--Greg Pavlak 5 run (Jim Kibby kick)

H--Brent Wendt 1 run (Kibby kick)

C--Ben Kline 54 run (Stacy Schaefer kick)

H--Lance Washburn 3 run (run failed)

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING--Coopersville 28-164 (Kline 17-156), Hopkins 59-295 (Josh Lanser 21-132).

PASSING--Coopersville, Steve Veldman 6-14-1-67, Hopkins, Wendt 1-2-0-14.

RECEIVING--Coopersville, Garison Jewett 4-61, Hopkins, Chris Nylaan 1-14.


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Broncos Move On to Host District Championship
Saturday, November 01, 2003

By Jeff Chaney
The Grand Rapids Press

Coopersville football coach Jim Meerman made it clear he was not pleased his team had a week off before the start of the playoffs.
   
Unable to find a ninth opponent on their schedule, the Broncos had a two-week layoff between their final game of the regular season and the start of the playoffs.

But Coopersville shook off the rust and produced a 22-13 win in the Division 4 playoff opener at home against Sparta Friday. The Broncos will host Whitehall (7-3) Friday at 7 in a district championship game. Whitehall beat Muskegon Orchard View 28-21 in its district game Friday.

"I hated the two-week layoff," said Meeman, whose team improved to 7-2 with the win. "(Not playing for two weeks) showed a little bit early. We made some mistakes early, but we didn't give in. I was proud how our kids didn't quit and came back after falling behind early."

The Spartans snatched the early momentum after Coopersville's opening drive stalled, and the Broncos gave the ball away on the punt try when the snap went over punter Pat Laug's head.

On Sparta's first play from scrimmage, quarterback Nathaniel Rodriguez hit wideout Chris Carrow on a 19-yard touchdown strike, and the Spartans had a 7-0 lead just 4 1/2 minutes into the game.

The Broncos, however, tightened their defense the rest of the first half, and scored twice for a 12-7 halftime lead.

Coopersville's first touchdown was a 1-yard run from running back Ben Kline, and the second came on a 20-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Steve Veldman to end Zack Bush just before the break.

After 24 minutes, the Broncos limited Sparta to just 49 yards of offense, while gaining 169 to recapture the lead.

"I was very happy with how we played defense," Meerman said. "We were able to take some of their skilled players out of the game, especially in the first half."

But Sparta got a second wind coming out of halftime, scoring on its opening drive of the third quarter. The final 49 yards came on running back Seth Bouwhuis' sprint to the end zone. After a failed two-point run, the Spartans had a 13-12 lead.

Coopersville's special teams was the next phase of the game to make Meerman happy, as end Jake Visser caused a fumble on a Sparta punt return by Carrow.

"I'm surprised he didn't fair catch the ball," Visser said. "I don't know if he didn't see me coming, but he didn't fair catch it and I made the hit."

After tackle Ron Drake recovered the ball for the Broncos on their 47-yard line, Coopersville moved to the Sparta 6-yard line. Sparta's defense held, but Broncos kicker Stacy Schaefer hit a 23-yard field goal that gave Coopersville a lead it would not relinquish.

Coopersville scored its last touchdown when Kline added a 1-yard run with just more than a minute to play in the game.

The loss was Sparta's second loss to Coopersville this season. The Broncos also beat Sparta 27-14 in week one.

"They are a team that is used to being here, and they know how to win these games," said Sparta coach Dave Cashen, whose team completed its season with a 5-5 record. "You have to give them credit -- we have played a lot of good teams down to the wire this year, and tonight they found a way to win this game. Good teams do that."

Coopersville 22, Sparta 13

Sparta ... 7 0 6 0--13

Coopersville ... 6 6 3 7--22

S--Chris Carrow 19 pas from Nathaniel Rodriguez (Victor Jaramillo kick)

C--Ben Kline 1 run (pass failed)

C--Zack Bush 20 pass from Steve Veldman (run failed)

S--Seth Bouwhuis 49 run (run failed)

C--Stacy Schaefer 23 field goal

C--Kline 1 run (Schaefer kick)

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING--Sparta 29-113 (Bouwhuis 9-78), Coopersville 45-152 (Kline 24-74)

PASSING--Spara, Rodriguez 8-19-0-63. Coopersville, Veldman 8-11-0-123

RECEIVING--Sparta. Carrow 4-36. Coopersville, Garrison Jewett 4-79.

TACKLES--Sparta, Jesse Berg 13. Coopersville, Jake Visser 8.



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Broncos End Successful Season
Saturday, November 08, 2003

There were only four seconds left on the clock Friday night when Whitehall quarterback Pat Welsh took the snap at the Coopersville 15. He dropped back, avoided a tackler then rolled to his right.
   
He saw 6-foot-5 split end Craig Brown in the front corner of the end zone and lobbed the ball in that direction.

Coopersville was up 7-3 at the time, and there was no time remaining when the ball started to come down.

Coopersville defensive back Steve Veldman had perfect position on Brown and went up high to bat the ball into the air. As Veldman hit the turf, the ball floated down into Brown's hand for the touchdown, and a 9-7 win for the Vikings in their Division 4 district final playoff game.

"I would never have caught the ball if he hadn't tipped it," Brown said. "It was great defense. He had me covered, I couldn't get to the ball. But then it was right there in front of me."

"And we never practice a tip drill," Whitehall coach Andy Malbouef said. "I am just stunned by how it turned out."

Not as stunned as Coopersville.

Jim Meerman's Broncos brought a 7-2 record into the game, while Whitehall was 7-3. The Vikings had earned their berth in the district championship game by beating Orchard View last week with an 80-yard touchdown run in the closing minutes.

They scored their first three points on a 30-yard field goal by Adam McCarthy on the last play of the first half.

"That was a tough one to lose," Meerman said. "They made the big plays when they had to. That last drive was a great one for them. We had our opportunities, but we didn't take the ball into the end zone when we could have.

"At this level you have to score some points, and we didn't do that."

Whitehall's James Cannon, a sophomore, had 143 yards in 22 carriers Friday night. He broke loose for a 46-yarder just before the half to set up the Vikings' field goal that wound up making the difference in the game's outcome.

"That is a good football team, with great speed," Meerman said. "They tend to make big plays. I thought we did a nice job for just over three quarters of the game, but at the end there we allowed them to capitalize on some big plays.

"Our kid (Veldman) was there on that last pass. He had good position on their receiver.

"That's how the game went," Meerman continued. "We'd stop them, slow them down, then they'd come back at us. Cannon is quite a back. I feel bad for our seniors, because they've had a pretty good run."

Coopersville scored its only touchdown in the second quarter when workhorse Ben Kline bulled over from the two. Kline led Coopersville with 132 yards on 32 carries.

Coopersville's Alan Longstreet knocked down a Welsh fourth-down pass with 4:32 left in the game to put the ball in the Broncos' hands at the Whitehall 33.

Coopersville could not sustain a drive, getting the ball to the Whitehall 10 before turning the ball back to the Vikings on an incomplete pass with 2:16 left to play.

Whitehall marched 90 yards to score, even after Coopersville's Jake Visser sacked Welsh on his own 44 with 1:09 left.

With 13 seconds left, facing third-and-10, Whitehall tried a double-reverse, Welsh to Cannon to Mike Kelley, getting the ball to the 15 for a fourth and one, setting up the last-second touchdown.

"Sometimes luck plays a role in games like this," Malbouef said.

Since time had expired on the final play, Whitehall did not try for the extra point.


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helmet2004
Broncos Earn League Championship
Saturday, October 09, 2004
By Steve Vedder
The Grand Rapids Press

Considering Friday night's awful weather conditions, Coopersville quarterback Kirk Willard was prepared for the Broncos to return to their traditional strength of running the football.

But Willard was pleasantly surprised when Coopersville, despite starting Friday's homecoming game against Belding played in a downpour, turned to its new strength: passing the ball.

The strategy worked perfectly as Willard fired four touchdown passes in a 40-8 win that earned Coopersville its fifth O-K Blue Conference title in six years.   
   
Willard, who contributed to the nearly 300 total yards the Broncos had run up by halftime , simply followed the instructions of Coopersville coach Jim Meerman.

"I was a little surprised, but we did what worked," Willard said. "It was tough to hang on to the ball, but it worked out."

The win qualified the Broncos for the Michigan High School Athletic Association playoffs for a seventh straight year. Coopersville makes the field by hitting the five-win mark in an eight-game schedule.

Willard threw touchdown passes of 50 yards to Garrison Jewett and 67 yards to Alan Longstreet for a 14-8 lead after the first quarter, then connected with Jewett for scoring passes of 5 and 11 yards in the second quarter as the lead grew to 33-8 at halftime.

Willard completed 7-of-8 passes for 191 yards in the first half for Coopersville. Meerman said the Broncos' passing game was going to be a priority against Belding, regardless of the conditions.

"The last couple weeks we've thrown more," he said. "Longstreet is a go-to guy and Kirk has been throwing well. A lot of teams have been sending a lot of people in against us, so passing gives us balance."

Coopersville's running game wasn't bad, either. The Broncos rushed for 156 yards, including a pair of touchdown runs by Ben Kline of 2 and 3 yards.

Belding took an 8-6 lead on a 1-yard run by Jason Longo with 4:27 left in the first quarter.

Belding coach Joel Wilker said Coopersville didn't let the rain and muddy conditions bog down the offense.

"They executed well," he said. "They certainly didn't let the weather effect them. They're a good team that executed well."

Meerman said the O-K Blue title and playoffs have been the team's top two goals since mid-August.

"We thought we had a shot. We lost our first two games to good teams and a lot of people wondered what was going on," Meerman said. "Give our kids credit for not quitting. We finished strong."


The Coopersville Broncos... 2004 OK Blue Champions!

Can You Say Team?


Broncos Turn Up the Defense on the Panthers
Saturday, October 16, 2004
By Greg Johnson
The Grand Rapids Press

Coopersville is off until the state playoffs start in two weeks, but the Broncos want to stay on the game they found in the fourth quarter against Comstock Park.

With a high-pressure defense and 22 points in the fourth quarter, the Broncos, champions of the O-K Blue Conference, toppled the O-K Silver co-champions 28-0 in a crossover game Friday night at Coopersville.

"We took advantage of our opportunities in the fourth quarter, and that's something we will have to do if we are going to make a run in the playoffs," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said.
   
The 6-2 Broncos are without the traditional ninth game of the season. The O-K Blue realignment left them short of opponents, and a scheduling search came up short by one game.

"I think we're ready for the playoffs, but I wish we had a ninth game because the kids deserve it," Meerman said.

"I feel good about the way we played though for the last game. We sent a lot of people at them on defense, and the defense played real well the whole game."

The Broncos looked ready for the postseason, especially on defense.

Coopersville limited the Panthers to 153 net yards, including just 47 passing for a record-setting offense that throws the ball often from spread sets.

And they sacked quarterback Troy Weatherhead three times.

"We have to give a lot of credit to Coopersville's defense," Comstock Park coach Joe Woodruff said. "Our team is three points away from a school record for most points in a season, and they pitched a shutout.

"We had our quarterback sacked once all season before tonight, and they got really good pressure on him."

It was a 6-0 game through three quarters, but the Broncos completed a 55-yard scoring drive with a 1-yard run by Ben Kline for a touchdown just five plays into the fourth quarter.

Kline, a 5-foot-8, 160-pound tailback, carried the ball 30 times for 183 yards and two touchdowns. He had 41 of the 55 yards in the key scoring drive.

Things fell apart after that for the Panthers, and Coopersville defensive back Garrison Jewett made them pay.

First, he recovered a fumble with 9:06 remaining at the Comstock Park 24-yard line. That set up a touchdown pass from quarterback Kirk Willard to Alan Longstreet from 7 yards out.

Then Jewett intercepted Comstock Park's Weatherhead and returned the ball 32 yards to the Panthers' 5-yard line. Mike Zimmer scored on the next play.

"I thought it was more like a 14-0 game," said Woodruff, whose team plays Lake Fenton in the final week of the regular season before heading to the playoffs.

"Our defense played well all night. We gave them two touchdowns in the fourth quarter with some turnovers.

"Hey, we wanted them to make us better for the playoffs by exposing weaknesses.

"They exposed that on offense we're probably not quite as good as we need to be at this point."

Meerman said he isn't worried about a week off, though he would prefer to play a game.

"We'll try to stay sharp," he said. "We have some things to work on in practice, and it helped to play Comstock Park. They are a good team, and they took away some of the things we've been able to do.

"This was a nice win for us."


Broncos Conclude Another Winning Season
October 30, 2004
The GR Press

It's the postseason, so it's time to study film, figure out where your opponent is vulnerable, draw up a game plan, then practice, practice and practice some more, hoping to get off to the best possible start.

Some of Catholic Central's preparation got thrown out the window, as Coopersville picked off a pass four plays into the game and returned it for a touchdown.

The Cougars settled down, though, and rallied for a 28-12 win over the Broncos at Houseman Field in the first round of the Division 4 playoffs.

Catholic Central will face South Christian next week. The Sailors defeated Comstock Park 40-22 Friday night.

When Coopersville's Carson Witte stepped in front of a Steve Smith pass and ran it back 25 yards barely two minutes into the game, it caught the Cougars off guard.

"People tell me that sometimes good things come from a loss," Catholic Central coach Tom Passinault said. "I don't really believe that, but I do believe you can learn from them.

"Our first six games we won pretty easily, and I could feel us getting complacent. Then we lost two of our last three regular season games, and we didn't react well in some tough situations in those game. But this was different. You could feel it on the sidelines -- after they scored on that interception, everybody came alive on the sidelines."

Catholic Central dominated the first quarter, controlling the ball for nine minutes and outgaining the Broncos 80-18. But the Cougars didn't score until Tom Korte bulled his way in from five yards out on the second play of the second period. Rockne Belmonte's kick gave Catholic Central a 7-6 lead.

Korte finished with three touchdowns on the night, each one earned the hard way, busting through the middle of Coopersville's line and carrying tacklers with him.

Korte scored his second touchdown with 1:12 left in the half to make it 14-6. Catholic added another score in the third quarter on a 37-yard scamper from Vince Agnew to make it 21-6.

Coopersville never quit, and kept pounding away at the Cougars.

Ben Kline, who rushed for 153 yards for the Broncos, cut the gap to 21-12 with a two-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter, but he slipped on the two-point conversion try and Coopersville found itself needing to score twice in the final 4:57 to salvage the win.

That point became moot barely a minute later when Korte scored again, popping through the Coopersville line and sprinting 28 yards for the score.

"I told the team that they played hard," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said. "But we made mistakes in key situations. We had a touchdown called back because of a hold, we had other key penalties that hurt us. But the main thing is that we played hard, which is the most important thing we can ask of them.

"They have a good team," Meerman added. "They run that power sweep with excellent speed in the backfield. I thought we had them figured out for awhile, then they went up underneath with the big guys."

Catholic Central gave away a lot of size up front, but both the offensive and defensive lines did a good job of opening holes or stopping the Coopersville attack.

"About four years ago we went to a more trapping, angling offense because we generally don't have any size," Passinault said.

"In fact, our biggest guys are our running backs. And once they get going, they are difficult to stop."


Broncos preparing for new season on new field
Coopersville football coach Jim Meerman saw his team's newly redecorated home put to use for the first time last week.

Robinson Field, which now has a new surface and new visitor stands, hosted a football camp and Meerman had a chance to get some early reviews.

"The kids loved it," Meerman said of the new field, which has artificial turf. "The stadium is pretty much done."

Besides the new look, Robinson Field now seats 5,000, up from a capacity of 3,500.

Meerman said this upgrade is the first since the field was built. He said there wasn't much wrong with the old field, but understood that a change was needed to keep up with the tradition that his Broncos have built.

"To be honest with you, I didn't care one way or the other if we changed," Meerman said. "I liked our old field. We never had trouble with our old (natural grass) field. We had good drainage on that field.

"I've been on Houseman Field, and other fields with the old-style artificial surface, and I would rather have grass than that. But this is much softer and the kids loved it."

Now all that is left is for Meerman to get his team ready for the 2005 season.

Last year the Broncos finished with a 6-3 record. They qualified for the playoffs, but were beaten in the first round.

This year Meerman brings a young, but quick team to the new Robinson Field. Besides a new field, there is excitement about the team's schedule, which will have nine games this year.

The past three years Coopersville has played eight games during the regular season.

"I really think the season will be more exciting, especially since we have nine games this year," Meerman said. "This is the first time in three years we have nine games."

"And the field is great. We had some rain on the new field during the camp, and it drained real well. So I won't have to worry about rain on Friday nights."

The Broncos open the new season with a home game against Forest Hills Central.

"That will be our grand opening," Meerman said. "We have Parent's Night and have some smaller activities planned to open the new field


Saturday, August 27
Broncos Open with 31-8 Win
It was full on the Broncos side of the stadium for opening night, and the team provided fireworks during the game to propel them to a convincing first victory.

Quarterback Kirk Willard threw touchdown passes to Curt Dietrich and D.J. VanDyke and had 178 yards through the air to lead host Coopersville.

Dietrich caught a 22-yard TD pass and VanDyke grabbed a 34-yarder.

Paul Adema (2 yards) and Dan VanHouten (8 yards) ran for Coopersville's other touchdowns, while Dennis Rutka kicked a 31-yard field goal.

Casey Lyons scored Forest Hills Central's only TD on a 1-yard run.

Coops travels to Caledonia for their second game of the season.


FH Central (0-1)    0 0 0 8 8
Coopersville (1-0)   7 14 10 0 31

C--Paul Adema 2 run (Dennis Rutka kick)

C--Dan VanHouten 8 run (Rutka kick)

C--Curt Dietrich 22 pass from Kirk Willard (Rutka kick)

C--D.J. VanDyke 34 pass from Willard (Rutka kick)

C--Rutka 31 field goal

FHC--Casey Lyons 1 run (Nell Delaney run)TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING -- Forest Hills Central 32-153 (Lyons 2-97), Coopersville 41-190 (VanHouten 12-48).

PASSING -- Forest Hills Central (Dayne Hoffman 3-9-1-62), Coopersville (Willard 9-12-0-178).

RECEIVING -- Forest Hills Central (Mark Ott 2-46), Coopersville (David Smoes 2-62).

TACKLES-- Forest Hills Central (Alan Delaney -- 6), Coopersville (Jake Childress 6).



Broncos Win, Earn Friendship Trophy
    Saturday, September 17, 2005
By Kelly Hill
The Grand Rapids Press
COOPERSVILLE -- The Broncos could have folded, but they didn't.

After letting a three-touchdown lead disappear at Comstock Park last week, Coopersville could have taken its losing record, hung its head and folded.

Instead, the Broncos rebounded from last week's tough loss with a 30-12 victory Friday night over visiting Sparta. The Coopersville defense did not allow a first down in the first half and limited the Spartans to only 15 total yards of offense in the first half.

"We've got to give these kids some credit," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman. "We were up 27-6 last week and we let it get away from us. These kids didn't quit, though. They worked hard all week."

With Friday's victory, the Broncos evened their conference and overall records.

"We have been up and down this year," Meerman said. "We didn't play well against Caledonia (two weeks ago) and we thought we had Comstock Park, but we played well tonight."

While Coopersville's defense surrendered only 38 yards rushing, 74 yards passing and one touchdown Friday night, the offense rushed for 281 yards and passed for 66, for a total of 347 yards.

"We've got some young people up front who are getting better and better," Meerman said. "Our line blocked all night. We had some chances to put it away in the first half and we didn't do it, but we played better."

The Broncos jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead as running back Dan VanHouten scored touchdowns from 4, 1 and 2 yards out. He rushed for 147 yards on 22 carries before leaving the game with an injured left ankle with 10:18 left in the third quarter. Meerman said VanHouten's injury is not expected to keep him out of the lineup next week when the Broncos host Wayland.

A 27-yard field goal by Dennis Rutka gave Coopersville a 23-0 lead late in the third quarter, but Sparta senior Jonathan Morse returned the ensuing kickoff 89 yards for his second kickoff return for a touchdown in as many weeks.

"Coopersville may have been 1-2 coming in, but they had played two incredibly good teams, so we weren't counting anything out," Sparta coach Dave Cashen said. "Coopersville was coming off a tough loss, but they put it together tonight."

After falling to Greenville and Coopersville this season, Cashen wondered if Sparta could change its name.

"Physical teams we don't match up well against," Cashen said. "This is the second time this year we haven't matched up well physically; the other was against Greenville. The 'ville teams we have trouble with. Maybe we can rename the town to Spartaville."

The Broncos and Spartans, who played for the Friendship Trophy Friday night, traded fourth-quarter touchdowns as Paul Adema romped 22 yards for Coopersville and senior quarterback Josh Carter hit senior Andrew Antor with a 5-yard TD pass.



Broncos Suffer Late Loss
Saturday, September 10, 2005
By Jeff Chaney
The Grand Rapids Press

COMSTOCK PARK -- There were a lot of Jim Valvano moments on the Comstock Park football field Friday night, as players, coaches and fans ran around looking for someone to hug.

Most were in disbelief of what they had just witnessed.

Down by three touchdowns with just over five minutes to play against tradition-rich Coopersville, senior quarterback Troy Weatherhead led a miraculous comeback by throwing three late scores in a 28-27 win over the Broncos.

Like any good leader, Weatherhead deferred a lot of credit to his teammates.

"This is the biggest team unit that I have been a part of," Weatherhead said. "We are a bunch of brothers. But I have to give credit to my offensive line. They are the backbone of this team, and every time I went into the huddle they were telling me that we have plenty of time."

Not everyone believed that, as some in the sellout crowd already were finding their way to their cars, thinking that Coopersville had walked away with an important O-K Blue Conference victory.

But with 5:21 left in the fourth quarter, Weatherhead found senior end Bill Smith with a 51-yard touchdown pass. After the two-point conversion was good by senior running back Josh Minnema, the Panthers were down 27-14.

Comstock Park then came up big, as it recovered an onside kick, giving the ball back to its quarterback who was beginning to pick up his swagger.

That showed in the next drive, as it took four plays for Weatherhead to move the Panthers 46 yards, the last six coming on a pass to junior tight end Bob McDonald.

Weatherhead then kicked the extra point, and it was a one-touchdown Coopersville advantage, with 4:31 still to play.

"That long (touchdown pass) to Smith that got us to within 14 points and the onside kick were huge," Weatherhead said. "After that, I knew the game was ours."

So did the Comstock Park defense, holding Coopersville to three-and-out on its next drive.

The Broncos punted the ball away, and after a decent return the Panthers had the ball on their own 45 and just over two minutes to play.

Six passing plays and one rushing play later, Weatherhead found senior running back Chad Shelner in the back of the end zone for the winning touchdown with 46 seconds to play.

"Hands-down, this is the best game I have ever been a part of," Comstock Park coach Joe Woodruff said. "For 3 1/2 quarters we couldn't do anything right. But those last six minutes the kids came to play. To tell you right now, I don't know how we did it."

Coopersville coach Jim Meerman was also in disbelief.

"This one hurts," Meerman said. "We let them get behind us a couple of times, and they started to gain some confidence.

"I thought we played well for 3 1/2 quarters. But they just came back and earned it."

Weatherhead ended his night by completing 19-of-39 passes for 258 yards, one interception and four touchdowns.

Coopersville senior running back Dan VanHouten led the Broncos offense by rushing for 73 yards on 24 carries and two touchdowns.


Broncos Beat Wayland 34-14, Belding Next
By GRANT LOFDAHL

COOPERSVILLE -- One of the hallmarks of a good football team is the ability to shake off a tough loss. If the last two weeks are any indication, then the Coopersville Broncos are a very good football team.

Following a shocking come-from-behind win by Comstock Park two weeks ago at the Broncos' expense, Coopersville came back to defeat rival Sparta, and last Friday they beat the O-K Gold's Wayland Wildcats 34-14 to move to 3-2 overall on the season.

"To lose like we did (at Comstock Park), it's nice to see us get things going again," said veteran Broncos coach Jim Meerman after Friday night's game. "We made some strides tonight, especially since we're a little banged-up right now."

The Broncos were without starting running back Dan VanHouten, who sat out the game with an injured ankle. However, Coopersville got more than enough backfield production from Paul Adema, who rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.

Coopersville outgained Wayland 378-237 in total yardage and also got a strong performance from quarterback Kirk Willard. Willard completed 13-of-19 passes for 218 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for a touchdown.

"Those two made some big plays," Meerman said. "Willard threw the ball real well and had some big runs for us."

The Broncos also made sure to capitalize on Wildcat turnovers. Coopersville got off to a good start when Wayland fumbled on its second play from scrimmage. The Broncos' Brian Bush recovered on Wayland's 20-yard line, and four plays later Willard hit a wide open David Smoes in the corner of the end zone. Dennis Rutka added the extra point to put Coopersville up 7-0.

The Broncos stopped Wayland's offense for a three-and-out and drove down the field, led by Adema's legs and Willard's arm. Willard tossed a pretty pass for his second touchdown, hitting Curtis Dietrich in stride from 19 yards out with 14 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Rutka added another PAT to put Coopersville up by 14.

Coopersville went up 20-0 with just over nine minutes left until halftime. Adema broke free around the right side of the line for a 7-yard touchdown scamper. Rutka's kick was wide left.

Wayland got on the board before halftime as junior quarterback Jon Schafer called his own number on a 1-yard touchdown run. The extra point was blocked, leaving the score at Coopersville 20, Wayland 6.

The Wildcats' nine-play, 70-yard drive had the momentum swinging back in their direction. However, that was only temporary, as Willard intercepted his counterpart Schafer's pass near midfield on the next Wayland drive. The teams went into the locker rooms with Coopersville leading by 14.

Coopersville scored first in the second half as well, again turning a Wayland turnover into crucial points. The Broncos recovered another Wildcat fumble on the Wayland 49-yard line in the middle of the third quarter. Adema took the first-down handoff and scampered 40 yards to the Wayland 9, and four plays later Willard followed his blockers into the end zone for a one-yard score.

Wayland cut the lead to 27-14 with 3:42 remaining in the game when senior quarterback Ryan Burtchett scored on a two-yard keeper. Bryan Rose added the 2-point conversion.

Any fears the Coopersville faithful may have had about a repeat of the Comstock Park game were put to rest on the Broncos' next drive. Coopersville recovered Wayland's onside-kick attempt at its own 46 and marched 54 yards in seven plays to salt the game away. Josh Deering scored the final touchdown when he broke free around the left end of the line for a 19-yard score. Rutka kicked the point-after to finish the scoring.

"We did a great job of not giving up the play," Meerman said of his team. "Jake Childress and Greg Lozon did some nice things defensively. We have things heading in the right direction and this was a good team victory."

Bryan Rose led the Wildcats, now 1-4 on the year, with 14 carries for 52 yards.


Broncos Bust Belding
The Broncos won a tight battle of two teams with great ground games 20-12 at Belding on Friday.

" "Our offense moved the ball well all night," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said. "We did have some opportunities in the red zone where we didn't score and we have to do a better job at that."

Coopersville faces a winless Rogers on Friday. The Golden Hawks fell to 0-6 after losing 42-14 to Wyoming Park on Friday.


COOPERSVILLE 20

BELDING 12

Coopersville (2-1, 4-2)

Belding (1-2, 3-3)

B--Chris Hose 63 run (run failed)

C--Paul Adema 5 run (kick failed)

B--Ted Albert 8 run (pass failed)

C--Curtis Dietrich 32 pass from Kirk Willard (Dennis Rutka kick)

C--Willard 1 run (Rutka kick)

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING --Coopersville 47-231 (Adema 30-183), Belding 33-240 (Hose 15-158).

PASSING -- Coopersville (Willard 10-20-0-142), Belding (Kyle Brechting 4-11-1-37, Albert 0-1-1-0).

RECEIVING --Coopersville (David Smoes 3-36), Belding (Hose 2-27).



In The Game...
By Greg Chrapek
Advance Newspaper

COOPERSVILLE - For the Coopersville football team, it was beginning to look like they would live a nightmare all over again.

After building a 26-0 lead midway through the third quarter, the Broncos saw that advantage suddenly shrink to 26-21 in the early moments of the fourth quarter in their game against Wyoming Park. Just one month earlier, the Broncos were in a similar situation against Comstock Park. In that game, the Broncos saw a 27-0 lead melt away in the fourth quarter, as Comstock Park rallied for a 28-27 win.

This time, with a repeat of that game staring them in the face, the Bronco offense decided to take matters into their own hands. A 74-yard touchdown drive midway through the fourth quarter slammed the door on the Viking comeback and Coopersville celebrated a happy homecoming with a 33-21 win.

"They (Wyoming Park) put a lot of points on the board," said Coopersville coach Jim Meerman. "But our kids have come back from that Comstock Park loss to win five in a row. Our goal coming into this game was to get that sixth win and get a playoff berth. The kids really played well and we had a number of guys really step up."

One of those players stepping up was backup running back Paul Adema, who came up big on the game-clinching drive. On the first play of the drive, starting running back Dan VanHouten injured an ankle and had to leave the game. In came Adema, and the Broncos did not miss a beat. After Bronco quarterback Kirk Willard hit Brian Bush for a key 11-yard gain and a first down on a third-and-7 situation, Adema ripped off a 15-yard run to put the ball in Viking territory.

Adema followed that run with a pair of six-yard blasts. Two plays later, Willard connected with David Smoes for a 31-yard touchdown pass that gave the Broncos a 33-21 lead with 6:59 remaining in the game after Dennis Rutka tacked on the extra point.

Wyoming Park quickly tried to answer that score, as junior quarterback Casey Therriault hooked up with Mike Boone for a 26-yard pass play and hit A.J. Whitehead for a 32-yard bomb that gave the Park a first down on the Bronco 12-yard line. The rally, however, was snuffed out for good when Willard intercepted the next pass and brought the ball out to the 42. The Broncos then put the ball in the hands of Adema and picked up a key 13-yard pass play from Willard to Smoes that helped them run out the clock.

"We didn't play very good football in the first half," said Wyoming Park coach John Doyle. "But we came back and settled down in the second half. You just have to take your hat off to Coopersville. They are a very good team."

Coopersville took the early momentum in the game, as they drove 90-yards for a touchdown on their first possession of the game. Willard completed passes to three different receivers during the drive, including a pair of tosses that resulted in first downs. Willard capped the drive with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Smoes that put the Broncos up 6-0.

Late in the opening quarter, the Park defense came up big when Stefan Simons picked off a Bronco pass near midfield. The Vikings drove the ball down to the Bronco 16-yard line and appeared to have scored the game-tying touchdown when Corey Stammis sprinted around the right side for a 16-yard touchdown on an option play. That score, however, was wiped out when a whistle blew because it appeared the fullback had been stopped in the middle of the line on the first part of the option.

"We thought we had a score but it didn't work out," said Doyle. "I just told the kids not to worry about things that they can't control."

The Vikings eventually turned the ball over on the drive when VanHouten recovered a Park fumble at the 14-yard line.

Coopersville later upped its lead to 14-0 shortly before halftime when Willard connected with D.J. VanDyke on a six-yard scoring strike. Willard also hit Bush with a pass for the two-point conversion.

Coopersville upped its lead to 26-0 in the early moments of the second half. The Broncos drove 79 yards on the first drive of the second half, with VanHouten barging over from a yard out for the touchdown. Minutes later, VanHouten scored again as he picked off a Viking pass at the Park 41-yard line and returned it all the way to the end zone. This put the Broncos up 26-0 with 5:42 remaining in the third quarter.

Wyoming Park quickly fought back behind the right arm of Therriault. The Park needed just four plays to score on the next possession, with Therriault lofting a 31-yard pass to Whitehead in the end zone. Brett Powell added the extra point on the play, and Powell then booted an onside kick that was recovered by Allen Durham.

With possession of the ball once again, the Vikings quickly cut into the lead again. Therriault hit Powell for a 17-yard gain and then hooked up with Stammis for an 11-yard gain. The Vikings moved the ball down to the Bronco 10-yard line, where Therriault then connected with Stammis on a slant for a touchdown that cut the margin to 26-14 after Powell's point after.

The Park scored again on its next possession to cut the deficit to 26-21 at the 10:50 mark of the fourth quarter. Therriault threw his third touchdown pass of the game, as he lofted a pass to Travis Hollis who made a leaping catch in the end zone.

"I thought our defense played well," said Meerman. "You have to give them (Park) credit. Their receivers made two or three catches that were just unbelievable. The one in the end zone--our kid was right there. They just made some great plays."

Therriault finished the game going 18-of-33 for 268 yards and three touchdowns.

Willard connected on 13-of-16 passes for 184 yards and three scores. VanHouten rushed for 98 yards on 20 carries, while Adema picked up 52 yards on nine carries.


Wyoming Park (5-3)   0 0 14 7 -- 21
Coopersville (6-2)   6 8 12 7 -- 33

C--David Smoes 26 pass from Kirk Willard (kick failed)

C--D.J. VanDyke 7 pass from Willard (Brian Bush pass from Willard)

C--Dan VanHouten 1 run (kick failed)

C--VanHouten 58 interception return (run failed)

WP--A.J. Whitehead 31 pass from Casey Therriault (Brett Powell kick)

WP--Corey Stammis 10 pass from Therriault (Powell kick)

WP--Travis Hollis 20 pass from Therriault (Powell kick)

C--Smoes 31 pass from Willard (Dennis Rutka kick)

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING -- Wyoming Park 15-51 (Teddy Lares 4-25), Coopersville 38-200 (VanHouten 20-105).

PASSING -- Wyoming Park (Therriault 17-30-2-255), Coopersville (Willard 13-16-1-177).

RECEIVING --Wyoming Park (Powell 7-104), Coopersville (Smoes 3-71).

TACKLES--Wyoming Park (Mike Boone 9), Coopersville (Corey VanderSloot 8).


Broncos Claim Another Championship!!!
Coopersville claimed its 6th OK Blue Championship in the last 7 years by defeating Cedar Springs 41-7.   The team finishes the regular season with a record of 7-2.  Congrats to the Broncos on playing tough and working hard to earn this title.


Paul Adema scored on runs of 6, 19, 2 and 34 yards as visiting Coopersville tuned up for the playoffs.


Adema finished with 181 yards on 22 carries. Brian Bush caught a 38-yard TD pass from Kirk Willard, and Josh Deering added a 5-yard scoring run for Coopersville, which had 417 yards in total offense.


Coopersville    (7-2)   14 13 7 7 -- 41
Cedar Springs (1-8) 0 0 7 0 -- 7

C--Paul Adema 6 run (Dennis Rutka kick)


C--Brian Bush 38 pass from Kirk Willard (Rutka kick)


C--Adema 19 run (kick failed)


C--Adema 2 run (Rutka kick)


C--Adema 34 run (Rutka kick)


CS--Austin Thornton 1 run (Jeremy Laatz kick)


C--Josh Deering 5 run (Rutka kick)


TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS


RUSHING--Coopersville 46-302 (Adema 22-181), Cedar Springs 30-92.


PASSING--Coopersville, Willard 6-13-0-115. Cedar Springs, Thornton 8-21-1-42.


RECEIVING--Coopersville, Bush 3-70. Cedar Springs, Ian Scholten 2-25.


TACKLES--Coopersville, Jake Childress 8. Cedar Springs, Andrew Sischo 14.



Season Ends with "A Great Game"
By GREG CHRAPEK

MUSKEGON - The Coopersville football team knew what it was up against when it traveled to Muskegon Orchard View to take on the defending Division 4 state champions, but knowing something is coming and stopping what is coming are two different things.


The Broncos knew that Orchard View possessed two of the most explosive backs on this side of the state in Lionel Alexander and Clint Allen. Both backs entered the game averaging over 10 yards-per-carry and had combined to score 26 touchdowns this season.


While the Bronco defense turned in a solid effort and the offense put more than a scare into the Cardinals, the big-play ability of the Cardinals was just too much to overcome, as Orchard View defeated the Broncos 40-29.


"We knew we had to put points on the board," said Coopersville coach Jim Meerman. "They have some very talented backs and if you make one mistake it will cost you six."


Big plays proved to be the difference, as the Cardinals produced five plays of 46 yards or more that either were touchdowns or led directly to touchdowns. Three different Cardinal backs produced those plays, but the biggest plays of the night came from Alexander. The explosive senior back scored on a 70-yard pass reception, a 77-yard touchdown run, a 46-yard touchdown run and a game-breaking 80-yard run in the final three minutes of the game that salted the game away and extended the Cardinal win streak to 24 games.


Those big plays were needed because Coopersville generated plenty of offense of its own. The Broncos wasted little time in producing offense as they drove 73 yards for a score on the first drive of the game. Kirk Willard found D.J. VanDyke, who had come out of the backfield, for a 33-yard touchdown pass five minutes into the game. Dennis Rutka tacked the point after, putting the Broncos up 7-0.


Orchard View quickly answered that score on its next drive. A 52-yard run by fullback Josh Thorp set up an eight-yard touchdown run by Allen that cut the margin to 7-6.


The points kept coming at a fast and furious pace, as both teams scored on their next possession. A 62-yard pass play from Willard to David Smoes set up a one-yard scoring strike from Willard to Brian Bush for the Broncos. Orchard View responded with a 70-yard touchdown pass from Zack Edwards to Alexander. Both teams missed the conversion attempts, leaving the Broncos with a 13-12 lead.


Orchard View took its first lead of the game early in the second quarter when the elusive Alexander burst through a hole in the line and turned on the afterburners for a 77-yard touchdown run that put the Cardinals up 18-13.


Coopersville regained the lead late in the second quarter. Led by Willard, the Broncos moved the ball 74 yards in 10 plays. The combination of Willard to Bush keyed the drive. They hooked up for passing plays of 12, 13 and 12 yards during the series. Paul Adema capped the scoring drive when he smashed into the end zone from two yards out. The Broncos also tacked on the two-point conversion on a run by Adema to take a 21-13 lead into halftime.


"That kid (Willard) is just a great passer," said Orchard View coach Hal Holman. "We have been playing some pretty good defense, but their quarterback was terrific. We had guys covered, but he just made perfect passes."


Willard finished the game completing 15-of-27 passes to six different receivers for 303 yards and two touchdowns.


Coopersville continued to move the ball as the second half opened. A 38-yard pass play from Willard to Bush ignited the drive. Willard added a 24-yard pass play to Curtis Dietrich that set up a two-yard touchdown run by Adema. The Broncos tacked on the two-point conversion as Willard connected with VanDyke, giving Coopersville a 29-18 advantage.


Orchard View answered that score with its longest drive of the game. Starting on its own 23-yard line, the Cardinals used 16 plays to navigate down the field. The key play on the drive was the final one. Facing a fourth-and-7 from the Coopersville 8-yard line, Edwards found tight end Andrae Nelson in the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown, cutting the Bronco lead to 29-24 with 1:23 remaining in the third quarter.


Coopersville responded by driving into Cardinal territory on the next possession, but on a fourth-and-1 from the Orchard View 37-yard line, the Broncos failed to make the first down.


Three plays later, Orchard View struck again when Alexander busted free for a 46-yard touchdown run with 5:48 remaining in the game. Allen ran in the two-point conversion that put the Cardinals up 32-29.


Coopersville again battled back and drove the ball deep into Cardinal territory where they had a first down on the 15-yard line. The drive, however, stalled and Orchard View regained the ball on the 17 with 2:48 left in the game. Three plays later, the Cardinals sealed the deal as Alexander exploded through the line and took off on an 80-yard touchdown run. The Cardinals also tacked on the two-point conversion to go up 40-29.


Coopersville ended the season with a 7-3 overall record.


"We started 1-2, but the kids fought back and we won our last six," said Meerman. "Tonight we played the best team in the Division and we had them on the ropes. We don't have many seniors and for the younger kids this was a great experience."



2006 Varsity
2006 Coopersville Varsity Football
Broncos are Division 4 State Runner-up

11/24/2006, 10:46 p.m. ET
The Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) — Aaron VanDenBeldt ran for a pair of touchdowns as Zeeland West beat Coopersville 22-0 to win the Division 4 state title in a battle of conference rivals Friday

The win gave the Dux (13-1) their first championship. Both teams play in the O-K Conference, and the schools are located less than 25 miles apart.


VanDenBeldt put the Dux ahead with a 5-yard touchdown run in the last minute of the first quarter, and Andrew Plaska's 2-point run made it 8-0.


The Broncos (11-3) drove back down the field, but Nick DeKraker dropped a pass in the end zone and Coopersville turned the ball over on downs at the Dux's 3-yard line.


The game stayed 7-0 until the final minute of the half, when VanDenBeldt scored his second touchdown, this one from 4 yards. The 2-point attempt failed, leaving Zeeland West with a 14-0 halftime lead.


The Dux had a chance to build the lead late in the third quarter after Adam VanDenBeldt intercepted a pass deep in Coopersville territory, but Aaron VanDenBeldt's fourth-down pass fell incomplete in the end zone.


The Broncos never seriously threatened the Zeeland West defense in the second half, and Aaron Raap added an insurance touchdown with 3:30 to play.


Zeeland West coach Jim Shillito said he was impressed by the game's intensity.


"What a great defensive football game by both teams," he said. "That's about as good as you can play defense."


It was Coopersville that entered the game with the outstanding defensive reputation, having shut out five of nine regular-season opponents.


But the Broncos were totally outmatched at Ford Field against an opponent that won its five playoff games by an average score of 36-9. Zeeland West's only defeat was a 35-23 loss to Muskegon, which won the Division 2 title earlier Friday.


"They've been destroying teams, and I'm proud of the way our team stepped up to play today," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said. "We just couldn't score."


Coopersville only managed seven first downs and 150 yards of offense. In the second half, Zeeland West held the Broncos to two first downs and intercepted more passes (2) than the Broncos completed (1).


"We had the early opportunities, and we didn't take them," Meerman said. "Then we couldn't make a play in the second half."


Shillito thought the final score made his team's win look easier than it actually was.


"That was a war of attrition," he said. "We're used to scoring fast, but we had to be patient today. This was about staying the course and doing what you were supposed to do."


Saturday, November 25, 2006
By Greg Johnson
The Grand Rapids Press



DETROIT -- It's a long walk up the tunnel at Ford Field, but not so long that Zeeland West right tackle Jon Kraai couldn't keep the state championship trophy held aloft for all to see.


He held it strong and long, and it was symbolic of his team's effort in fighting off cross-Ottawa-county opponent Coopersville for a 22-0 win in the MHSAA Division 4 state championship game Friday night.


"Their kids played, hard, hard, hard, and they are well-disciplined," Zeeland West coach John Shillito said of Coopersville, which limited the Dux to their lowest scoring total of the season

"We stayed patient, though. These kids played hard. What a great defensive game, especially in the second half. We score a lot of points, but we play some defense, too."


The Dux, who won the 2-year-old school's first football title, scored in the last minute of each of the first two quarters after long drives, and cashed in late in a tense defensive second-half.


"We knew very little was going to come for free," Shillito said. "This is very gratifying for all of us, staff-wise, community-wise and for these guys. It's still about these guys. It was exciting to see the way they played."


A 13-play drive that lasted seven minutes was closed out by quarterback Aaron VanDenBeldt's 5-yard keeper with 56 seconds remaining in the first quarter. A two-point conversion run by Andy Plaska made it 8-0.


The Dux then marched 97 yards in 16 plays -- while chewing up more than eight minutes -- to get a touchdown and take a 14-0 lead on another VanDenBeldt keeper. It was from 4 yards out, and came with 33 seconds remaining in the second quarter.


Aaron Raap had the final score on a 3-yard run with 3:30 left.


"We stayed patient and confident in ourselves," VanDenBeldt said. "The coaches talk about putting your hand down and playing one play at a time. We took our time, and drove the ball down the field a couple of times. We stayed tough."


The Broncos trailed just 8-0 when they came up empty on a long drive in the second quarter. After marching to the Dux 3-yard line, a holding penalty hampered things and the Broncos faced a fourth-and-goal play from the 3.


They opted to pass instead of kick a field goal, and Zeeland West's Marshall Lacey knocked down a Weston Jewett throw intended for DJ VanDyke in the end zone.


"We knew that was the route they like," Lacey said. "I just jumped on it and my guys cleaned up after me. We bent a little bit on defense. We just didn't break."


Meerman said the Broncos had their opportunities.


"We dropped a touchdown pass in there, and we had some other chances on offense, and our defense played hard," he said. "They have moved the ball on everyone all year. We wanted to try to force them to drive the ball a long time. We thought it would be in our favor.


"Give them credit. They did it, and we just couldn't score on them. They score a lot, but they shut down teams, too."


Shillito said he liked that stop by his defense, but said a defensive stop after the Dux lost a fumble to start the second half also was critical.


"That got us out of trouble," he said. "We had to take what we could get, especially in the state finals. We were not concerned about the number of points, just happy about what we did. What a great effort by our defense."


THE O-K GREEN was golden. Muskegon, the conference champion, won the Division 2 title with a 32-30 win over Warren DeLaSalle Friday afternoon, a few hours before Zeeland West, the conference runner-up, won the Division 4 title.


THE COOPERSVILLE Bronco mascot played saxaphone in the band in full costume, including the head, and the bands from the two Ottawa County high schools performed the National Anthem together.



Saturday, August 26
Broncos Win Season Opener @ FHC 7-0

The Broncos won their opening game in a defensive battle at FHC.

Paul Adema scored the only touchdown on a 10-yard run in the third quarter to lift visiting Coopersville.


Adema had 54 yards on 18 carries. Alan Delaney rushed for 43 of Forest Hills Central's 47 yards in the game. Quarterback Alex Chopp completed 6-of -13 passes for 63 yards. 


TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS


RUSHING -- Coopersville 34-91 (Adema 18-54), Forest Hills Central 35-47 (Alan Delaney 14-43).


PASSING -- Coopersville (Jordan Jewett 6-11-38-0), Forest Hills Central (Alex Chopp 6-13-63-1).


RECEIVING -- Forest Hills Central (Cam White 4-30).


 



Thursday, August 31
Broncos Beat Caledonia 7-0

By Jane Bos
GR Press

COOPERSVILLE -- After the game, D.J. VanDyke, Ryan Dietrich and Greg Lozan were just so nice, smiling and complimenting and congratulating everyone from their offensive line to their coaches and the Coopersville community.

Ah, yes, but here's the kicker: These Broncos were not quite as polite during the game, upending defending state champion Caledonia 7-0 on Thursday.

They hit, and they hit hard.

For the second time in two weeks, Coopersville earned a 7-0 win. Caledonia, which had an eight-game winning streak snapped and was shut out for the first time since early in the 2002 season, is 1-1.


"That is one of the best teams we will play all year, and I think the rest of the O-K Blue had better watch out," said Caledonia coach Tom Burrill. "Their defensive line and their linebackers are as good as we see. They were much more physical than we were."


Coopersville got all the offense it needed early in the second quarter.


After an interception, coming up short on fourth down and punting on their first three possessions, the Broncos scored on a 90-yard drive. VanDyke, a senior running back, capped the run with an 8-yard touchdown.


The Scots had chances to score, too, but fumbled the ball on the Coopersville 1-yard line and were stopped short on fourth down once on the Broncos' 22-yard line and once on their 7-yard line.


"We really had a physical week of practice," said Coopersville coach Jim Meerman. "You do win championships with defense. I know coaches say that, but that is because it is true. Caledonia has a lot of talent in their backfield, and to keep them out of the end zone is pretty phenomenal."


Scary thing is, the Broncos are only going to get better.


Lozan, a senior linebacker, led the winners with nine tackles, while Tiffer Schoenborn added eight. Dietrich, a defensive back, grabbed an interception.


"You have got to give it to our coaches; they studied for this team all year," Dietrich said.


Added Lozan: "The whole team played with heart. We had stops on fourth down, and then our offense just took over."


VanDyke, the leading rusher and receiver with 102 total yards, credited the offensive line -- tackles Matt McHugh and Alex Harsay, guards Zach Jonio and Rick Laug and center Dennis Rutka.


"Man, it is all due to them," he said. "Last year, Caledonia blew us out (39-7), and it was terrible for us. To come out here and just take it to them, it was amazing."


Caledonia, which was led by the tough play of two-way player Matt Cavanaugh and the running of Josh Echtinaw and Alex Johnson, had one bright spot in the play of freshman quarterback Luke Wiest.


Wiest, a 14-year-old, entered the game after Coopersville scored. He played with poise, completing 4-of-9 passes for 78 yards.


"Our offensive line is one of the spots we need to get better, and I think we need to go back and be more physical, hit the sleds some more," Burrill said. "Sometimes a loss can be good. It rattles some heads and makes them understand you cannot show up and win."



Saturday, September 23
Broncos Run Past Belding 27-0
     After scoring 2 touchdowns on Friday night for a 13-0 half lead, weather conditions forced the postponement of the 2nd half to Saturday. This is the second time this season the Broncos have been forced to sleep on it for a night to see the conclusion the following day.

     A good-sized crowd for a half-game make-up cheered as the Broncos came out and scored 14 more points on Saturday to claim a 27-0 win against the visiting Belding Redskins. The win moves the Broncos record to 3-2 on the season.

     The defense played well and kept the Redskins away from the endzone with strong pursuit and a swarm of tacklers around the ball. The pass rush was fierce as it forced the play of Belding each time they tried to throw.

     The Bronco offense kept feeding off a steady diet of running plays to eat up chunks of yardage, and wear down any hopes of a Belding comeback.

     Coopersville travels to Rogers on Friday. Kick-off is at 7:00 PM.


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Broncos Earn 4th Win, Blank Rogers

By Greg Smith
Advance News

Coopersville got off to a great start, scoring five touchdowns on its first four offensive possessions, and cruised to an easy 46-0 OK Blue victory spoiling the Homecoming game of Rogers Friday night.


It only took the visiting Broncos five plays after receiving the opening kickoff to march 73 yards in just 2:22 to take a 7-0 lead on senior halfback D.J. VanDyke's 48-yard touchdown dash. Van Dyke broke two Rogers tacklers, made a nice stutter-step move and went untouched to the score.


The Golden Hawks drove the ball to the Coopersville 18-yard line but senior linebacker Greg Lozon sacked Rogers senior quarterback Javon Brown for an 11-yard loss. A costly delay of game penalty and an incomplete pass forced the host team into a third down and 26 situation. Brown was then intercepted senior linebacker Ryan Taylor, who returned the ball down the left sideline, broke a tackle by Brown at the 10-yard line, and rumbled into the end zone.

Coopersville took advantage of a bad snap from center on a fourth punt on the ensuing possession and wasted little time capitalizing on another Rogers error. Sophomore tailback D.J. Lillibridge rushed for 23 yards for the third Coopersville score with 1:35 remaining in the opening quarter to give the Broncos a 20-0 lead.Van Dyke opened the second quarter with a 33-yard TD but the Broncos again missed the extra point conversion.


In fact, the Broncos missed three of seven conversions.


"We've been very good all season long on our point-afters but tonight we had problems," said Coopersville veteran head coach Jim Meerman. "But at least we're scoring touchdowns and that's a good point. I was impressed with our good start."


The Coopersville offensive line controlled the line of scrimmage and VanDyke was quick to praise the men in the trenches.


"Our offensive line did a great job tonight," Van Dyke said. "Zach (Jonio) got a great block on my first touchdown run and the line opened up the holes all night long. I just ran through the holes."


Senior Paul Adema scored Coopersville's fifth touchdown after quarterback Weston Jewett completed a 43-yard pass to the two-yard line to senior receiver Dan Fritch. Adema's score gave the Broncos a 32-0 halftime lead.


Coopersville scored on the opening possession of the second half, marching 53 yards on seven plays when junior Marty Reens scored on a 14-yard run. The Broncos concluded the scoring on a fourth-quarter one-yard plunge by junior Jason Myers.


The Broncos had two touchdowns nullified in the game. Coopersville was denied a TD on the final play of the first half. Senior Kyle Senna ran around the left end for 22 yards and knocked down the pylon while diving for the endzone but was ruled down at the one-yard line on the final play of the first half. Junior Braden Salazar scored on a 17-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter but the Broncos were guilty of holding.


"I have the highest level of respect for Jim Meerman and his coaching staff," said Rogers head coach Roy Black. "He had his team ready to play. Coopersville is a very good football team and when you don't protect the football, they take advantage of your mistakes. I was happy with the way our kids continued to play hard throughout the game. I was happy with our effort but not the final score."


Rogers is now 1-5 for the season and 0-4 in the O-K Blue, while Coopersville is 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the O-K Blue.


"We're getting better every week and it was nice to get an opportunity to play a lot of people in this game," Meerman said. "We got off to an excellent start and set the tempo. We just need to continue our improvement every week."

C--D.J. VanDyke 48 run (kick good)


C--Ryan Taylor 64 interception return (kick good)


C--D.J. Lillibridge 23 run (run failed)


C--VanDyke 33 run (kick failed)


C--Paul Adema 2 run (kick failed)


C--Matt Reens 13 run (kick good)


C--Jason Myers 1 run (kick good)


TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS


RUSHING--Coopersville 29-267 (VanDyke 4-88), Rogers 28-37 (Jory Kurkjian 6-27).


PASSING--Coopersville, Weston Jewett 2-3-0-63. Rogers 2-7-2-52 (Javon Brown 1-3-1-26.


RECEIVING--Coopersville, Aaron Cooke 2-63. Rogers, Ben Ivy 1-26.


TACKLES--Coopersville, Greg Lozon 5. Rogers, Bert Carey 6.



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Broncos Win 6th Game, Join Playoffs

COOPERSVILLE   31
CEDAR SPRINGS  6

Weston Jewitt tossed 9 and 11 yard touchdown passes to Dan Fritch to highlight the Broncos' road win.

D.J. VanDyke returned a kickoff 92 yards for a score and Paul Adema had a 9-yard touchdown run for Coopersville.

Brian Adams had Cedar Springs' only touchdown with a 2-yard run.

Cedar Springs (4-4) 6 0 0 0 -- 6
Coopersville (6-2) 16 8 7 0 -- 31

C--Dan Fritch 9 pass Weston Jewitt (D.J. VanDyke run)

C--VanDyke 92 kick return (Nick DeKraker pass from Jewitt)

CS--Brian Abrams 2 run (kick failed)

C--Fritch 11 pass from Jewitt (DeKraker pass from Jewitt)

C--Paul Adema 9 run (Blake Waldecker kick)


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Broncos Over Sparta in Playoff Game, 28-18

By Jeff Chaney
The Grand Rapids Press

SPARTA -- The Coopersville football team snatched momentum from Sparta and didn't give it back.


Down two scores early and weathering the emotion of Sparta hosting its first playoff game in the program's long history, the Broncos scored three consecutive touchdowns and beat the Spartans 28-18 in their Division 4 first-round playoff game.


Coopersville now travels to Whitehall on Friday for a 7 p.m. game against the Vikings. Whitehall beat Muskegon Orchard View 13-12 in their playoff game.


Two of those three Coopersville touchdowns came in the second half, as the Broncos held the ball for 18 of the 24 minutes after intermission.


"I was worried about stopping their offense, because we did not stop them too much in the first half," said Coopersville coach Jim Meerman, whose team improved to 8-2. "It turns out we did not have to stop them too much in the second half, because we held the ball. Our kids did a great job of pounding the ball, but that is the strength of our program, having big kids and running the ball."


Coopersville had second-half drives of 10, 12, and 10 plays. Two of those drives went for scores, on a 3-yard run by senior running back D.J VanDyke and a 20-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Weston Jewett to junior end Tim Jewell.


VanDyke was a big reason the Broncos were able to grind out the yardage and wind down the clock in the second half. VanDyke finished the night by rushing for 200 yards on 35 carries and two scores. He had 22 carries for 118 yards in the second half.


"They had the momentum early, and then we started to get it late in the first half," VanDyke said. "It just carried on in the second half.


"We saw some things in the first half that we knew we could capitalize on in the second half. I never expected the second half to go the way it did, but we just held on to the ball and ran out the clock."


Sparta coach Steve Zurek was impressed with the way VanDyke ran the ball.


"Football is a game of blocking and tackling, and they did a much better job than we did tonight," said Zurek, whose team completed its season with an 8-2 record.


"We could not tackle (VanDyke). It was a dog fight out there, it is always a battle when we play Coopersville, and we just came out on the short end of the stick."


Junior running back Zach Priest led the Sparta offense by rushing for 128 yards on 23 carries and a touchdown.

Coopersville (8-2)    0 13 0 15 -- 28

Sparta (8-2)         12  6 0  0 -- 18

S--Josh Taylor 45 run (kick failed)


S--Taylor 5 pass from Joe VanHoutem (run failed)


C--D.J. VanDyke 14 run (Blake Waldecker kick)


S--Zach Priest 10 run (run failed)


C--VanDyke 5 pass from Weston Jewett (pass failed)


C--VanDyke 3 run (Nick DeKraker pass from Jewett)


C--Tim Jewell 20 pass from Jewett (Waldecker kick)


TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS


RUSHING -- Coopersville 50-232 (VanDyke 35-200), Sparta 34-192 (Priest 23-129).


PASSING -- Coopersville (Jewett 7-12-1-95), Sparta (VanHoutem 3-12-2-23).


RECEIVING --Coopersville (Jewell 3-52), Sparta (Corey Cooper 1-14).


TACKLES--Coopersville (Tiffer Schoenborn 8), Sparta (Jordan Morse 12).



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Broncos Blank Comstock Park 34-0
The Broncos shut-out Comstock Park 34-0 to win their final regular season game of the season.  The Broncos finished regular season play with a 7-2 record and finished 2nd in the OK Blue.


D.J. VanDyke ran for 158 yards and scored touchdowns of 24 and 46 yards during the Broncos' home shutout.


Paul Adema also scored twice on runs of 1 and 24 yards.


The Panthers were led by Matt Heinicke with 106 yards on 18 carries.


Comstock Park (3-6)   0 0 0  0 --  0

Coopersville (7-2)    7 7 0 20 -- 34

C--DJ VanDyke 46 run (Blake Waldecker kick)


C--Paul Adema 1 run (Waldecker kick)


C--VanDyke 24 run (Waldecker kick)


C--Adema 8 run (Waldecker kick)


C--Waldecker 4 run (kick failed)


TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS


RUSHING -- Comstock Park 43-190 (Matt Heinicke 18-106), Coopersville 49-271 (VanDyke 20-158).


PASSING -- Comstock Park (Bronson Schmidt 0-5-0-1), Coopersville (Weston Jewett 4-11-86-0).


RECEIVING -- Comstock Park None, Coopersville (Nick DeKraker 1-40).


TACKLES-- Comstock Park (Bob Armock 8 tackles), Coopersville (Tyler Robach 5 tackles).



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Saturday, October 28
New GR Press Sports Page on M-Live
     Wow, click on the title of this note and be prepared for all kinds of info. about high school sports in the GR area.

     They are doing a service to all of the fans of high school sports in our area by providing a broad view of all sports.

     Take the time to check out this site, but be prepared to spend awhile checking everything out.


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2006 District Champs
2006 District Champions
Broncos Claim District Championship
Saturday, November 04, 2006
By Steve Ungrey
The Grand Rapids Press

WHITEHALL -- Coopersville achieved a bit of revenge Friday night by topping Whitehall, 35-13, to move on to the regional finals. Three years have passed since Coopersville lost a Division 4 district final game to Whitehall in the last second, 9-7.


The Broncos (9-2) face either Cheboygan or Ogemaw Heights in the third round.


If Cheboygan wins today's 1 p.m. game, the district title game might be played at a neutral site. If Ogemaw takes it, Coopersville will have home-field advantage.


"Whitehall had a talented secondary, and we knew we had to run the ball hard," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said. "Paul Adema had done it for us earlier in the season and last year for us. He's more of a banger, and he definitely runs hard."


Adema, a senior, took over primary rushing duties when senior D.J. VanDyke suffered a leg injury in the first half and left the game. His status for next week was not known.


With VanDyke out after a 65-yard punt return touchdown to start Coopersville's scoring, Adema sprinted to work for the first of his four touchdowns. His TD runs of 4, 5, 6 and 11 yards were part of a night in which he ran for just 73 yards on 17 carries.


"I just practiced hard and said I had to get ready for this game," Adema said. "We just had to make some changes to our offense and prepare to get ready on the fly tonight.


"What happened on offense wasn't all me, a large part of it was my offensive line that carried me. I owe a lot to Dennis Rutka, Alex Harsay, Zach Jonio, Matt McHugh and Rick Laug."


The senior-dominated line allowed Coopersville to put away Whitehall (9-2), a team that surprised highly touted Muskegon Orchard View last week.


"The last couple weeks, we've run the ball really well," Meerman said.


"It hurts losing D.J. because he's had some good games, but we were able to take Paul off of the blocking mode and make him a rusher again.


"Now we just need to get D.J. hopefully healthy. He's got 1,600 yards of total offense, so, of course, it hurts if we lose him. We've got some good kids both older and younger that can run, so we'll see what we can do with this."


Whitehall's two touchdowns came on 7- and 13-yard runs by quarterback Garrett Anguilm.


"It was still a great season, even though we got whupped," Whitehall coach Andy Malbouef said. "We've been building toward this performance."


By Jens Carlson
CHRONICLE STAFF WRITER

Ryan VanBergen walked off the Whitehall football field for the last time Friday night.


The hulking 6-5 senior end and the rest of the Viking defensive starters departed with 2 minutes left in their Division 4 playoff game against visiting Coopersville.

I was disappointed," said VanBergen about his final few strides off the home field turf. "Disappointed, but just with the outcome, not with the way we played."


And that might be the lasting sentiment from a year that exceeded the expectations of all but the most die-hard Viking fans.


Coopersville rode its two-horse backfield of all-state candidate D.J. VanDyke and Paul Adema to a dominating 35-13 win. But the lopsided score wasn't any indication of the effort put forth by both squads.


"This was a great year that we had and I don't care if we did get walloped tonight," said Whitehall coach Andy Malbouef, whose team graduates 18 seniors this season. "It was a fun year."


It also was an unexpected year.


Whitehall finished second in the West Michigan Conference, stunned highly regarded Orchard View in the opening round of the playoffs and hosted a postseason game for the only the second time in school history.


However, the Vikings finally met a foe that could truly outmuscle them.

"We knew we were going to be undersized on defense," said Malbouef. "We thought that if we had good technique and could get low that we could get it done.


"We got run over by the steamroller tonight. They didn't do anything that we didn't predict. We just didn't stop it. That was frustrating."


Coopersville didn't try to hide its gameplan -- run the ball behind its massive offensive line. And when VanDyke and Adema didn't have wide lanes to run through, the duo carried Viking tacklers to numerous big gains.

VanDyke spurred the Broncos offense in the first half.


The speedy senior's 67-yard punt return opened the scoring with 9:21 left in the first quarter and immediately put the hosts on their heels. He then pounded the middle of the Viking defense as the primary ball carrier during two long TD drives as Coopersville built a 21-13 lead at halftime. Adema put the finishing touches on both drives with TD runs of 5 and 6 yards.


Whitehall countered with a pair of strong scoring drives of its own in the second quarter, both capped by TD scampers from senior quarterback Garrett Anguilm that covered 6 and 13 yards.


But that was about all the Vikings could muster.


"They are tough. I could see them making it (to Ford Field). They just shut us down," said Anguilm, who completed 10-for-26 passing for 107 and rushed 11 times for 27 yards and two scores. "They watched tape great. Their gameplan was perfect against us."


In the second half, Coopersville's defense did not allow Whitehall past midfield and Adema stepped in for an injured VanDyke without missing a beat.


Adema rushed for three more scores and totaled 73 yards on 17 carries. VanDyke, who played sparingly in the second half after sustaining a leg injury, finished with 84 yards on 15 attempts after compiling 68 yards in the first half.


Coopersville outgained Whitehall on the ground 199-107 and 229-214 overall.


The Broncos' win avenges Whitehall's thrilling 2003 playoff victory at Coopersville.


"The kids don't remember too much, but the coaches do," admitted Coopersville coach Jim Meerman. "(2003) was a tough loss."



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Broncos Claim Regional Final, Win 23-21

By GREG SMITH
Advance News

As the Michigan High School football playoffs advance to its semi-final stages, every game, every series, every play, every call seems to take on more importance.

For Coopersville veteran coach Jim Meerman, he has been there and done that, but even he seemed a little stunned as his Broncos escaped a missed 30-yard field goal with 4.3 seconds remaining to post a 23-21 regional championship victory against the Ogemaw Heights Falcons.


The Broncos won their eighth straight game when the Falcons senior quarterback, punter and kicker Matt Faiman's 30-yard field-goal attempt barely missed into a brisk, swirling wind with 4.3 seconds left. Coopersville is now 10-2, while Ogemaw Heights finished with an 8-4 record.

It was our first field-goal attempt this year," said an emotional Ogemaw Heights coach Andrew Pratley. "We've practiced them all the time, but our coaches thought it was our best option to win the game. I'm very proud of my players. When we got behind 23-7 early in the third quarter, we could have quit but we battled back instead. It shows the character of this team. We got beat by a very good Coopersville team and came up a little short in the end."


After a scoreless first quarter, the Broncos drove 69 yards on eight plays, as senior halfback D.J. Van Dyke rambled 12 yards for a touchdown. Blake Waldecker added the extra point to give the host school a 7-0 lead with 8:47 remaining in the first half.


With the Falcons going against the brisk wind in the second quarter, Coopersville took advantage of a 19-yard punt by Faiman. With Van Dyke pounding the middle for 104 yards on 13 first-half carries, junior wingback Tim Jewell scampered 29 yards around the left end for another Bronco touchdown with 3:25 remaining before halftime for a 14-0 advantage.


Faiman guided his Falcons 61 yards on nine plays to score with 28 seconds before halftime. Faced with a third-and-3 situation at the 31-yard line, Faiman rolled to his right before avoiding the rush and hitting junior fullback Trevor Zettel with a screen pass. Zettel pranced down the left sideline just barely crossing the goal line.


The momentum seemed to turn going into the locker room as the Falcons received the opening kickoff of the second half. With the wind at their back, the Falcons were unable to move against the stingy Coopersville defense.


Ole "Mo" returned to the Coopersville sideline, as Van Dyke returned Faiman's 38-yard punt 63 yards to the 17-yard line.


"D.J. is just an amazing football player," Meerman said. "He seems to come up with the big play game in and game out. I can't count how many big plays he's made for us this year."

Four plays later, the Broncos scored on Jewell's 10-yard run to take a 21-7 lead with 7:56 left in the third period.


The Falcons, needing a big play, had an opportunity but Faiman overthrew a wide open Mike Pacella, who got behind the Coopersville secondary. On the next play, Faiman tried a rollout punt, but the Broncos' senior Tiffer Schoenborn blocked the punt to give Coopersville excellent field position.


"Our coaches had us well prepared for that play," Schoenborn said. "I knew when he rolled out that I was going to sack him or go for the block. When he tried to kick it, I knew I had him."


Coopersville took over on the 20-yard line, but the Falcons' defense stopped Coopersville at the 1-yard line when senior quarterback Winston Jewett completed a seven-yard pass to junior tight end Nick DeKraker.


But three plays later, Coopersville's seniors Allan Adams and Tyler VanderWood tackled Falcons junior halfback Michael Noffsinger in the end zone for a safety to give Coopersville a 23-7 advantage.


"The safety hurt us but it was still a two-score game," Pratley said. "It didn't give us any margin for error. We needed to score two touchdowns and a pair of two-point conversions."


The Falcons got the first touchdown when Noffsinger found a seam and outraced three Bronco defenders 70 yards for a touchdown. Senior fullback Matt Franklin added the two-point conversion with a run up the middle to cut the deficit to 23-15 with 21 seconds left in the third quarter.


After an exchange of punts with 6:49 remaining in the game, Faiman led the Falcons on a 14-play, 82-yard drive, scoring on a one-yard quarterback sneak with 2:28 left in the game and the momentum swayed again.


Faiman's pass for the two-point conversion to sophomore tight end Alex Rose was barely incomplete and the momentum seemed to shift again.


"The momentum in that game seemed to change with every possession," Meerman said. "We had our chances and they had theirs. It's a good win for our team. Our kids played hard and with a lot of heart. Our offensive line did a good job in the first half. We've been depending on them all season."
 
The Coopersville all-senior offensive line of center Dennis Rutka, guards Rick Laug and Zach Jonio, and tackles Matt McHugh and Alex Harsay controlled the line of scrimmage, as Van Dyke finished with 140 yards on 28 carries, while Jewell had 54 yards on nine attempts, and senior fullback Paul Adema added 27 yards on nine tries.


All Coopersville had to do was run out the clock, but the Falcons still had some fight in them. Van Dyke ran for nine yards, and then Jewett got the first down on a quarterback sneak. Van Dyke carried three more times for nine yards with Ogemaw Heights calling a time out after every play. Coopersville was faced with a fourth-and-less than a yard to go. It declined to punt and decided to run for the first down. Van Dyke was unable to pick up the first down at the Coopersville 49-yard line.


Trailing 23-21 with 41 seconds left and no time outs remaining, Faiman connected with Noffsinger, who finished with 135 yards on 14 carries, on a 22-yard reception to the 27-yard line. The same connection hooked up for another completion, covering seven yards before Faiman scrambled for 12 yards to the 8-yard line. A costly illegal procedure penalty moved the ball back to the 13-yard line before a Faiman pass to Rose in the end zone barely missed its mark

Faced with a third-and-13 situation after the incompletion, the Falcons decided to go for their first field-goal attempt of the season.



The snap was good, the hold was there and the kick floated in the brisk wind, barely missing its mark to the right. It gave Coopersville its first regional championship since 2000 when it beat Cedar Springs.


"I am kind of numb right now," Van Dyke said. "This is a true team. We haven't all been together through the years because some of us played up on the junior varsity and varsity teams at a younger age, but there are no egos here. The O-line did a great job and the whole program never stops. We just put it on the line every week, work hard and try to play to the best of our abilities.


"We have DeWitt now and we need to get ready for them. We're in the final four and that's something to be proud of."


There will be a lot at stake against DeWitt: a chance to play for the state championship.

___________________________________________________________________

By Jane Bos
The Grand Rapids Press


COOPERSVILLE -- Jim Meerman never doubted his football team's heart and desire. The Coopersville coach knew this team would accept any challenge.


But it wasn't until Ogemaw Heights' final field-goal miss with time running out did he really believe believe.


Coopersville (10-2) hung tough Saturday, posting a 23-21 victory against the visiting Falcons to win a Division 4 regional title Saturday.

The Broncos now advance to their first semifinal since 2000. They take on DeWitt (11-1), which beat defending state champion Flint Powers Catholic 41-38 in three overtimes Friday.


In a 2001 regional final, DeWitt beat Coopersville 21-7.


"When this season began, I never would have said that this team would be in the semifinals," said Meerman, whose teams finished state runner-up in 1991 and 2000. "This is just a good group of kids who work their butts off. Just look at them, they really aren't that big. They just play with a lot of heart."


Take DJ VanDyke. After not practicing for most of the week because of a bruised ankle, the 5-foot-10, 165-pound senior still played tough. He rushed for 139 yards, including a 12-yard touchdown scamper in the second quarter, and he returned a punt 63 yards early in the third quarter.


Three plays later, Tim Jewell scored on a 10-yard run -- his second touchdown after scoring on a 29-yard run -- to help give Coopersville a 21-7 lead.


Four minutes later, with 3:04 left in the third quarter, the Broncos' Allan Adams sacked Falcons quarterback Matt Faiman in the end zone for a safety.


Every point needed


Coopersville enjoyed a seemingly comfortable 23-7 lead.


Ogemaw Heights (8-4) decided to make it uncomfortable.


The Falcons scored twice -- on a 70-yard run by Michael Noffsinger and a 1-yard keeper by Faiman -- to narrow the score to 23-21. Then, with 4.3 seconds remaining, they attempted their first field goal of the season, a 30-yarder by Faiman, on third-and-13.


It was close, but the officials signaled it wide right, ending the game.


"I didn't even look," Ogemaw Heights coach Andrew Pratley said. "I was confident that the crowd would let me know what happened. Both crowds were cheering, so I had to look. The officials know, they were right there. It was wide right."


"I just don't know what to say but, 'Can you believe it?' " VanDyke said. "One of the top four teams in our division. It's almost hard to fathom. We just keep playing hard, we work together. We are all one. We really don't have any egos on the team."


No egos. Just plenty of heart and desire.


"Oh, there might be a little pain, a couple aches here and there," VanDyke said. "We all play through that."


The Broncos also played through a scoreless first quarter before going ahead 14-0. Ogemaw Heights scored with 28 seconds left in the second quarter -- a 31-yard pass from Faiman to Trevor Zettel -- to narrow the margin to 14-7 at halftime.


"This group is not like the other teams I've coached (to the semifinals)," Meerman said. "They are not that big. They just play hard and get it done."



Broncos Show Heart, Beat DeWitt
By Steve Ungrey
The Grand Rapids Press

JENISON -- Weston Jewett is a jack of all trades when it comes to playing sports. He is equally adept at dribbling a basketball, throwing a football or guiding a race car around a track.


All that paled in comparison to what Coopersville's senior quarterback did Saturday.


Jewett's interception with time running out preserved a dramatic 21-19 win over DeWitt in the Division 4 state semifinals before a crowd of 6,200 at David McKenzie Stadium.

The win sends Coopersville (11-2) to its first championship game since 2000. It will be an all-Ottawa County final at 7:30 p.m. Friday when Coopersville faces Zeeland West (12-1). The Dux destroyed Highland Park, 48-8, in the other semifinal game.


Jewett threw two touchdown passes in the semifinal, a 4-yard toss to D.J. VanDyke and a 20-yard strike to Nick DeKraker, finishing 9-of-22 for 85 yards and an interception.


But the interception was the play of the day.


"That has to be one of the best things I ever did. It ranks pretty high on my list," Jewett said. "As soon as I grabbed the ball, I knew the game was over. So this has to be one of the top moments I've had. I can't explain how this feels. It's awesome to make it to the finals."


DeWitt leads early


It didn't look like Coopersville would get the chance to play next week.. DeWitt, guided by former Cedar Springs coach Rob Zimmerman, needed two plays to score its first touchdown, a 30-yard pass from Dan VanDreumel to Andrew Schaar. Its second score was a 62-yard run by VanDreumel for a 13-0 lead.


"I think we made a lot of uncharacteristic mistakes today," Zimmerman said. "Coopersville played extremely hard and at this point you need to play close to your best to make it farther. We've seen running backs similar to what D.J. VanDyke was like today and we had a tough time stopping him."


VanDyke finished with 162 yards rushing on 32 carries.


"I was there to watch Coopersville in 2000," VanDyke said. "I never expected this at the start of the year. Never. We've overachieved beyond belief. It's a great group of guys. I wouldn't trade them in for anybody else."


Coach returning to finals


Then there was Jewett's interception, the play that sealed DeWitt's fate and gave Coopersville coach Jim Meerman the chance to again go for a state title.


"That was a big pick," Meerman said. "We knew Weston had to do some different things in this game if we were to move on. We weren't afraid to attack them, either. We knew DeWitt liked to score in a hurry and we just had to prevent the big plays.


"We're looking forward to two Ottawa County teams going at it. Someone told me there was never a winner in the football state finals from Ottawa County. I guess we'll change that this year."



Broncos Drop Season Opener
Saturday, August 25, 2007
By Bob Becker

Press Sports Editor

COOPERSVILLE -- Step-by-step, Forest Hills Central football coach Rusty Erander has his Rangers moving toward the talent-rich upper regions of West Michigan football.

The Rangers, 4-5 a year ago, took a huge step forward here Friday night, knocking off Coopersville 16-6 on the Broncos' home turf.

Coopersville is coming off an 11-3 season that took them to the MHSAA Division 4 state finals.

"They are a good football team," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said. "They have some very talented skill position people and they are difficult to contain.

"We've been watching that program grow and grow, and right now they are really solid."

Erander credits his scout team for the forward movement.

"Our scout team plays so hard at practice that we can only get better," Erander said. "Everybody wants to be a part of this."

The Rangers have an opportunistic offense. The Alex Chopp-to-Cameron White passing combination accounted for 130 of the Rangers' 185 passing yards and a touchdown.

Meanwhile, Nick Adado, a real load, kept pounding the inside of the Coopersville line.

"Alex started last year as a sophomore, even though as a freshman he had played in only three games," Erander said. "We were a little leery. We knew he had talent but we didn't know how he'd handle it.

"But he came in all summer and worked on his passing with Cam and a couple other guys. And Cam is a special young man, with really great hands."

Coopersville struck first, Blake Waldecker taking a pitch from Brent Pfahler and popping through the right side of the FH Central line.

Waldecker made a great play, because the pitch was behind him. But he pulled it in and simply blew through the line and outran everybody 76 yards for the score.

The Rangers got on the board with a 23-yard field goal from Jake Matelic, then grabbed a 9-6 lead before the half when Chopp found Kevin Delano from 20 yards out.

Neither team could score in the third quarter. There was one interesting exchange in the second half. On consecutive plays, Forest Hills Central first recovered a Coopersville fumble, then turned it back over to the Broncos, and then picked off a Coopersville pass, only to return the ball to Coopersville with an interception of their own.

White put the finishing touches on the Rangers win with a nifty over-the-shoulder grab of a Chopp pass from 5 yards out as the fourth quarter got under way.

"I thought we played hard," Meerman said. "We just made too many mistakes. We didn't capitalize much on offense. We had one big play early, but didn't come up with anything later.

We have to go back to work on Monday."

Things won't get any easier for the Broncos. Their next two games are against area powers East Grand Rapids and Zeeland East.



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Zeeland West Too Much for Broncos

Friday, August 31, 2007

By Steve Kaminski

The Grand Rapids Press

ZEELAND -- Zeeland West senior fullback Andrew Plaska is not the type of kid who basks in praise, even when he really, really deserves it.

Plaska ran through Coopersville in Zeeland West's 33-20 victory over the Broncos on Thursday night in a rematch of last year's all-Ottawa County Division 4 title game. The Dux won that won, too.

Plaska rambled for 230 yards on 21 carries and scored on touchdown runs of 68, 65 and 30 yards. While walking off the field, Plaska shook his head and shrugged his shoulders when asked if he knew he had just rushed for over 200 yards 

"Our line really did a great job," Plaska said. "They opened things up for me. We are a versatile team and we have a lot of guys who can contribute. It keeps the other team guessing. We have a lot of guys up front who can push people around."

The 2-0 Dux led 20-0 at halftime after scoring three second quarter touchdowns, including Plaska's 68-yarder with seven seconds left in the half. The Broncos scored three touchdowns in the fourth and Coopersville never got closer than 13 points in the second half.

Plaska rushed for 28 yards on 13 carries in Zeeland West's season-opening win over Hamilton last week. Dux coach John Shillito said those numbers were not a motivating factor for Plaska.

"No, he didn't care in the least," Shillito said. "You know what he said (after Hamilton)? He said he liked blocking. He blocked more in that game than any game before. Our fullback doesn't block that much. Because he is such a good football player, we are using him more as a blocker. He was thrilled to be a good blocker.

"You can't imagine the quality person and the unselfishness he has for a guy who has been a three-year star for us. As a coach, you want your great players to act like that. This isn't coach talk. It's who he is."

Both teams had the ball just once in the first quarter, but neither scored. The Broncos took the opening kickoff and marched down to Zeeland's 10 but were stopped on downs. Zeeland then responded with a 15-play drive but fumbled away the ball at the Coopersville 4 early in the second quarter.

It was Zeeland's defense that broke the scoreless tie when Derek Kingshott intercepted a pass and returned it 17 yards for a touchdown.

"We moved the ball but we just couldn't score in the first half, and then we gave them one on the interception," said Coopersville coach Jim Meerman, whose team dropped to 0-2. "You can't allow that type of offense to keep the ball in their hands, and our goal in the first half was to run the ball, and we did. We just didn't put it in the end zone.

"They are a polished team, offensively and defensively. Their kicking game is sound. They are just so big and physical right down the line. It's tough to stop everything they do. We did a pretty good job early, but they wore down on us later on."

The Broncos got a big performance from senior running back Blake Waldecker, who rushed for 155 yards on 28 carries and scored on touchdown runs of 2 and 1 yards. Junior Taylor Laug capped the game's scoring with a 79-yard touchdown run in the game's final minute.

The Broncos will play another defending state champion in East Grand Rapids next week.



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Broncos Battle at EGR, Fall by a TD
Saturday, September 08, 2007
By Kelly Hill
The Grand Rapids Press

EAST GRAND RAPIDS -- After losing two fumbles Friday night, Joe Glendening was looking for redemption.

The East Grand Rapids junior found it in two touchdown runs and two interceptions as he led the Pioneers to a 14-6 victory against visiting Coopersville.

Glendening, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound running back and defensive back, fumbled the ball away in the second quarter and fumbled a punt early in the fourth quarter. He redeemed himself by scoring both East Grand Rapids touchdowns, on 1-yard runs in the second and third quarters.

He intercepted Coopersville quarterback Brett Pfahler twice in the game's final two minutes to preserve the EGR victory.

"I was trying to make up for the two fumbles I lost," Glendening said. "I was trying to pay the team back a little bit. Our offense had to drive the ball tonight, it wasn't like the first two games when we'd go 20 yards and score. Our defense started a little slow, but we picked it up."

Coopersville (0-3) took a 6-0 lead on the second play of the second quarter when senior Blake Waldecker rambled 37 yards for a touchdown. The extra-point try hit the left upright.

Glendening tied the game seven minutes later with a 1-yard blast, while Michael Wilson kicked his first of two extra points. The game's decisive score, Glendening's second 1-yard blast, came at 5:27 of the third quarter as EGR opened the second half with a 14-play drive covering 80 yards and chewing up 6 minutes, 33 seconds.

"That drive to start the second half was the turning point of the game," EGR coach Peter Stuursma said. "The things that disappointed us tonight were penalties and turnovers. When you have penalties and turnovers against a team like that, you're in for a long night."

East Grand Rapids (3-0) won without its starting quarterback, senior Cal Blair. Blair, who left last week's game against Catholic Central with an ankle injury, was replaced by junior Andrew Thompson.

Coopersville's best chance to tie the game came with just over six minutes left to play when it had the ball at the EGR 3. A fumbled snap on second down ended the Broncos' threat as the ball was recovered by EGR junior Robert Bell. Bell picked up the ball at the 5 and took it out near midfield.

The Broncos got the ball back two more times, but both possessions ended with Glendening interceptions.

"When you play good teams, you can't make mistakes," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said.



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Broncos Post Win at FHE
Saturday, September 15, 2007
By Steve Ungrey
The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS -- One win down, five to go.

The last thing Coopersville wanted to do was knock itself out of playoff contention four games into the season. The Broncos instead came through Friday and avoided something they had not done in 24 years.

The Broncos missed going 0-4 for the first time since 1983 as Blake Waldecker rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns in a 21-6 win against Forest Hills Eastern.

"Our line was doing a great job. It was persistence," Waldecker said. "We might get one or two yards and then we might break one. We just had to keep it on the ground and keep pounding away."

Coopersville got 223 of its 345 yards on the ground behind a strong rushing attack anchored by Waldecker and an offensive front that included Aaron Cook, Darrick Bolthouse, Andy Beers, Jake Daling, Nick DeKraker and Sam VanderMolen.

"The whole line just came through for us," Waldecker said. "They all did a great job. It feels great to get this win, and now we can look forward to next week."

The Broncos held on to the ball for around two-thirds of the game with a short-gain offense that led to two first-half scores. Waldecker's 5-yard touchdown run was followed by a 9-yard pass from Brett Pfahler to Sam VanderMolen.

A 2-yard keeper by FH Eastern quarterback Karl Crist cut the Hawks' deficit to 14-6 in the third quarter, but Coopersville closed the door on Waldecker's second score, a 7-yard run.

Waldecker even gave the Broncos hope for a kicking game that has been spotty at best by knocking in his own extra point.

"I thought up front we moved the ball really well, and defensively we did well up front, too," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said. "We just have to cut down on our turnovers, and we can do that by coming back Monday and working on it."

The teams combined for seven turnovers, three of those coming in the final minute of the first half.

What saved Coopersville in the end was its third-down conversion success. The Broncos converted eight times on those plays, including three times in the opening touchdown drive.

"Credit the Coopersville kids for that," FH Eastern coach Tim Gibson said. "They made those third-down plays and we didn't do it. We didn't do well in that department, and that came into play.

"We knew we'd be tested physically tonight by a big-time program with big kids. I thought we stood in there toe-to-toe and hit."

Coopersville has all the incentive in the world to keep winning. Not only would five more wins clinch a playoff berth, it likely would result in O-K Blue Conference success.

Meerman and his team are not thinking that far ahead.

"We came up short the first three weeks, and this win really helps us out," Meerman said. "Now we get to go home finally and play again".



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Broncos Run to 40-14 Win

     Coopersville rebounded from an early 6-0 deficit to score 37 consecutive points in the first half and blast Rogers. Blake Waldecker rushed for 244 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Broncos. He also kicked two field goals. Rogers was led by Kyle Lieckfelt, who passed for 311 yards and two touchdowns.

     The win brings the Broncos record to 2-3 overall, and tied for first place (2-0) in the OK Blue.

     The Broncos will be home again on Friday against Wyoming Park for Homecoming.

R--Rakeyme Banks 25 pass from Kyle Lieckfelt (kick failed)

C--Tim Jewell 29 run (kick failed)

C--Blake Waldecker 35 run (Waldecker kick)

C--Waldecker 4 run (Jewell pass from Brett Pfahler)

C--Waldecker 11 run (kick failed)

C--FG Waldecker 33

C--Caleb VanTimmeren 15 run (kick failed)

R--Ben Ivy pass 27 from Lieckfelt (kick failed)

C--FG Waldecker 27

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING--Rogers 15-30 (Kurkijian 12-21), Coopersville 60-460 (Waldecker 20-244).

PASSING--Rogers (Lieckfelt 23-42-5-311), Coopersville (Flagg 5-7-0-80).

RECEIVING--Rogers (Ivy 12-163), Coopersville (Nick DeKraker 2-38).



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Homecoming Win Evens Broncos Record

Blake Waldecker scored six touchdowns, including the last one on a 55-yard run and netted 203 yards rushing to lead Coopersville. The Broncos scored 22 points in each of the first two quarters and led 44-14 at just halftime. Wyoming Park's Mark Thrash scored four touchdowns, including an 86-yard kickoff return, and rushed for 111 yards. Coopersville's Taylor Lang had a 23-yard touchdown run.

The Broncos travel to Cedar Springs for a showdown of league leaders on Friday.  Both teams are 3-0 in the OK-Blue.

The scoring recap from the Wyoming Park game...

 

C--Blake Waldecker 47 run (kick failed)

WP--Mark Thrash 5 run (Justin Wagner kick)

C--Waldecker 1 run (Waldecker kick)

C--Waldecker 7 run (Travis Jebb kick)

C--Waldecker 16 run (Waldecker kick)

WP--Thrash 25 pass from Rumiel Benson (Wagner kick)

C--Waldecker 33 run (Nick DeKraker pass from Brett Pfahler)

C--Taylor Laug 23 run (Waldecker kick)

WP--Thrash 14 run (kick failed)

C--Waldecker 55 run (kick failed)

WP--Thrash 86 kickoff return (Wagner kick)

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING--Wyoming Park 35-188 (Thrash 12-111), Coopersville 46-373 (Waldecker 15-203).

PASSING--WP, Benson 5-10-1-74. Coop., Pfahler 3-6-0-33, Eric Flagg 0-4-0-0.

RECEIVING--Wyoming Park, Wagner 2-36. Coopersville, DeKraker 1-22.



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Broncos Take Over League with 14-6 Win at Cedar Springs

Friday, October 05, 2007

By Jeff Chaney

The Grand Rapids Press

CEDAR SPRINGS -- The Coopersville Broncos picked the perfect time to play flawless football.

Traveling to a hostile Red Hawks Stadium and playing an undefeated Cedar Springs team with the O-K Blue Conference championship and their own playoff lives on the line, the Broncos went up by two scores at halftime and held on for a 14-6 win Friday night.

"I think we rocked them in that first half," said Coopersville coach Jim Meerman, whose team has won four consecutive games after dropping its first three non-conference games.

"That first half was our best half of football of the year," Meerman said. "We wanted to hold the ball in that first half and get up on them, because we talked all week about how explosive they were."

Led by junior quarterback Brett Pfahler, senior running back Blake Waldecker and physical offensive and defensive lines, Coopersville controlled both lines of scrimmage and the tempo of the first half.

Pfahler completed 7-of-9 passes for 92 yards and rushed for one touchdown, and Waldecker carried the ball 18 times for 78 yards and a score in the first 24 minutes.

The Broncos tallied 173 first-half yards, more than 100 yards more than Cedar Springs to take a 14-0 lead.

"We knew they were good, they were state ranked and we knew we had to come out and play perfect football," said Pfahler, who completed 8-of-12 passes for 100 yards and one interception.

"My line did a great job for me tonight. I was barley touched, they opened holes and our receivers caught the ball," Pfahler said. "This is a huge win for us because the conference championship was on the line and the chase for the playoffs."

The Red Hawks made adjustments at halftime and shut out the Broncos' offense in the second half.

Then Cedar Springs trimmed the lead to eight points late in the fourth quarter on an Andy Stanley 3-yard plunge, but the Red Hawks rally fell short when senior quarterback Jon Cole was sacked and he fumbled the ball on a last-minute drive.

Pfahler took three knees after that to end the game.

"They did play a perfect first half," Cedar Springs coach Brian Busen said. "It was amazing that they just kept making plays in that first half when they needed to. They are a championship team, they are where we want to be."

The Coopersville win keeps the Broncos' hopes alive to make the playoffs for a ninth consecutive year.

"Our team is getting better," Meerman said. "We made too many mistakes early in the year, and you can't do that against good teams. Tonight we played well -- this was a big win for us."

COOPERSVILLE 14

CEDAR SPRINGS 6

Coopersville (4-3)    7 7 0 0 -- 14
Cedar Springs (6-1)   0 0 0 6 --  6

C--Blake Waldecker 3 run (Waldecker kick)

C--Brett Pfahler 1 run (Waldecker kick)

CS--Andy Stanley 3 run (kick failed)

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING--Coopersville 44-133 (Waldecker 28-100), Cedar Springs 33-94 (Stanley 9-62).

PASSING--Coopersville, Pfahler 8-12-1-112. Cedar Springs, Cole 12-18-0-103.

RECEIVING--Coopersville, Sam Vandermolen 4-47. Cedar Springs, Jason Hendges 6-68.

TACKLES--Coopersville, Mike Willacker 12. Cedar Springs, Jordan Kelley 10, Casey Pike 10.



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Broncos Win 5th Straight, Sparta Next
Saturday, October 13, 2007
By Steve Kaminski
The Grand Rapids Press

COMSTOCK PARK -- Coopersville's 24-7 win against Comstock Park on Friday night proved to be a microcosm of the season for the Broncos.

Coopersville started slowly, then came storming back.

The Panthers jumped out to a 7-0 first-quarter lead, but Coopersville answered with a pair of second-quarter touchdowns to take a 16-7 halftime lead and grab control of the game.

The victory gave the Broncos a share of the O-K Blue championship and was their fifth consecutive win after starting the season 0-3. A win over Sparta next Friday will secure a playoff berth and win the Championship outright for the Broncos, who were state runner-up in Division 4 a year ago.

"It was a long start (to the season), but our kids did not quit," Broncos coach Jim Meerman said. "We told our kids that we just wanted them to get better, that was our goal, and we played each game with that intent, to get better.

"We weren't even thinking championship after our third game. We just wanted to win. From there, it has taken off. It's because our seniors are strong and they stayed together."

Meerman has guided the Broncos to seven conference championships in the past nine years. But Comstock Park struck first on its first drive of the game when the Panthers marched 58 yards for a touchdown. Quarterback Erik Caswell capped the drive with a 13-yard strike to Tommy Greer.

The Panthers threatened to stretch their lead later in the first after Travis Kusmierski intercepted the Broncos at the Comstock Park 40. The Panthers drove into Coopersville territory but were stopped on downs at the 35 yard line.

Comstock Park held Coopersville to three touchdowns, but the Broncos converted all three of their 2-point conversion attempts.

"We are real young, and we are coming along," Comstock Park coach Steve Gough said. "I couldn't be more proud of our kids. We have been getting better the last three weeks, and I think we made a little bit of a statement. We have been playing real tough and hanging in there."

Coopersville senior Blake Waldecker rushed for 189 yards on 28 carries, and his 2-yard touchdown run with 4:33 left in regulation iced it. The Broncos also scored a second-quarter touchdown on Kyle Kunnen's 6-yard run, and they scored later in the first half when quarterback Brett Pfahler threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Tim Jewell.

"Field position hurt us," Meerman said. "We threw an interception and dropped a kickoff, but we got into our game plan. Give Comstock Park credit. They played hard and they played well. They have improved since day one. They have a good program."

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING--Coopersville 53-264 (Waldecker 28-188). Comstock Park, 34-99 (Kusmierski 12-36).

PASSING--Coopersville, Pfahler 4-82-1-58. Comstock Park, Caswell 6-15-1-67.

RECEIVING--Coopersville, VanderMolen 2-40. Comstock Park, Greer 2-25.

TACKLES--Coopersville, Kunnen 10 1/2. Comstock Park, Kyle McCarthy 8 1/2.

 



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Broncos Clinch Title, Playoff Birth!
Saturday, October 20, 2007
By Chad Simcox
The Grand Rapids Press

COOPERSVILLE -- Running back Blake Waldecker led Coopersville to a big win Friday night at a rainy and blustery Robinson Field.

The 5-foot-8 senior rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns in a 32-0 rout over conference rival Sparta. The victory, Coopersville's sixth of the season, boosted the Broncos to their ninth consecutive playoff berth. It also gave them the O-K Blue title outright, as they went undefeated in conference play.

"Tonight was a total team effort," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said. "To shut out Sparta, that's a great effort defensively".

 The Broncos' defense came up with two fumble recoveries and forced the Spartans, missing senior running back Zach Priest, into several mistakes.

Coopersville was equally damaging on offense, chewing up 224 rushing yards.

Leading the way was Waldecker, who opened the scoring for the Broncos on the first possession of the game. An opening 40-yard kick return set up Coopersville at the Sparta 20-yard line. Waldecker danced into the end zone from 16 yards out three plays later. He finished the scoring drive by drilling the extra point to give his team a 7-0 lead.

"The offensive line did a tremendous job of opening up a hole," Waldecker said. "I just ran straight through into the end zone."

Waldecker scored again in the third quarter on a 4-yard run. His extra point was the final score of the night.

The play capped what has been a huge year for the running back. He finished the regular season with 1,390 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns.

"I owe it all to the offensive line," Waldecker said. "It starts with them, and they do a great job."

The Broncos, who opened the season 0-3, now take their show on the road in the playoffs. They finished last season as state runners-up in Michigan's Division 4.

"Now we start over," Meerman said. "We want to get back to Ford Field."

After Waldecker's first touchdown, the Broncos found the end zone two more times in the first half. The combination of junior quarterback Brett Pfahler and senior Tim Jewell was responsible for both scores. The two hooked up for an 8-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-goal play early in the second quarter.

They found each other later in the quarter on a pitch-and-run from 23 yards away.

Coopersville also scored on a 1-yard run by junior Taylor Laug in the third quarter.

The Spartans dropped to 4-5 overall after the winning the O-K Blue last season.

 



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Broncos Advance to District Final with 28-0 Win
Saturday, October 27, 2007
By Steve Kaminski
The Grand Rapids Press

COOPERSVILLE -- The state high football playoffs started this weekend, but Coopersville has been dealing with do-or-die pressure since Week 4.

The Broncos won their seventh consecutive game with a 28-0 victory over Orchard View in Division 4 action Friday night. Coopersville, which started the season 0-3 after finishing runner-up in the state last year, will battle Chippewa Hills next weekend.

"I'm extremely happy with these kids because they just didn't quit," Broncos coach Jim Meerman said. "They kept coming to practice and they kept getting better. They just never quit, and that's why it has been a fun group to coach."

Coopersville scored touchdowns on its first two possessions and led 15-0 at halftime. Tim Jewell scampered 12 yards for Coopersville's first touchdown, then Blake Waldecker plunged 1 yard for the other.

Coopersville poured it on in the third quarter. Junior quarterback Brett Pfahler fired a 22-yard touchdown pass to Nick DeKraker and Waldecker scored his second touchdown from 2 yards out.

Pfahler completed his first five passes and finished 9-of-13 for 148 yards.

"He keeps his cool and made some big plays tonight," Meerman said. "I have seen him get better all year in practice and in the games. He's a good kid."

Coopersville made big plays throughout the game, converting 7-of-10 third-down plays. But arguably the biggest play came on defense.

The Cardinals were facing 4th down and less than a yard at the Coopersville 7 on their first possession after falling behind 7-0. Coopersville's Jarod Host wrapped up running back Matt Latsch short of the first down. Coopersville then marched 93 yards for its second score.

That was as close as the Cardinals would get.

"That was big," Meerman said. "Defensively, we came into the game not wanting to give up the big plays, and we had to tackle well. I thought they did a great job with that. Our coaches made adjustments and slowed them down a little bit."

Orchard View completed the season at 6-4.

"We are a very young team, and our seniors battled hard, but we just don't have very many of them," Orchard View coach Hal Holman said. "We are proud of them, and our future looks good.

"Coopersville is an outstanding team. They executed very well, especially when they needed it. They made big plays, and we didn't. We wish Coopersville well."



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Broncos District Champs Again!
Friday, November 02, 2007
By Steve Kaminski
The Grand Rapids Press

REMUS -- The Coopersville Broncos weren't going to let a little second-half adversity slow them down, not after everything they have overcome this year.

The Broncos held off Chippewa Hills 24-19 in Friday night's Division 4 district championship game, sending Coopersville into next weekend's regional round against Upper Peninsula foe Kingsford.

Coopersville, now 8-3 after starting 0-3, forced four first-half turnovers and cashed in touchdowns on two of them to build a 21-7 halftime lead.

The Broncos led 24-13 in the fourth quarter when the Warriors closed in after David Gossett ran 10 yards for a touchdown with 10:37 left in the game.

But the Broncos were able to run out the final 4:58 to seal the win. Blake Waldecker, who left the game after bruising his leg, returned and rolled up 26 yards on the drive to help finish off the Warriors.

"These kids don't quit," Broncos coach Jim Meerman said. "We played a good football team today, a very talented team. But I thought our kids played well. Maybe it was the schedule that we played at the beginning of the year when we played some really good teams.

"You would think they would have had their heads down a little bit at the end, but they kept fighting and put a nice drive together at the end of the game. We moved the ball when we hadn't been able to run the ball."

Coopersville junior quarterback Brett Pfahler threw three first-half touchdown passes to spark the offense. Pfahler completed nine passes for 136 yards.

Adam Raak helped set up the game's first score when the Coopersville senior recovered a fumble at the Warriors 24. Pfahler fired a 19-yard touchdown pass to Tim Jewell moments later.

The Broncos regained the lead, 13-7, later in the opening quarter when Pfahler tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Sam VanderMolen. Pfahler's 37-yard screen pass to VanderMolen gave the Broncos possession at the Warriors 4.

Coopersville pulled further ahead in the second quarter. The Broncos were facing third-and-17 at the Warriors 34 when Pfahler hit Nick DeKraker with a pass over the middle. DeKraker broke two tackles and rambled into the end zone.

Warriors quarterback Alex Wilson completed his first nine passes of the game, including a 23-yard touchdown pass to Taylor Leonard in the opening quarter to tie the game, 7-7.

Wilson completed 21-of-26 passes for 200 yards.

Wilson also threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Cole Hansen in the third quarter, cutting the deficit to 21-13. But the Broncos answered with a 28-yard field goal from Waldecker.



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Broncos Come Up Short in Regional Final
By Kelly Hill
The Grand Rapids Press

MARQUETTE -- Coopersville's run was ended by the run.

The Broncos' run of eight straight wins ended at the Superior Dome on Saturday night when Kingsford ran for 338 yards in a 21-14 victory in the Division 4 regional championship game. Flivvers tailback Ryan Kleisner led the rush with 115 yards on only 11 carries. He scored twice, on runs of 41 and 45 yards. Fullback Josh Droese ran for 106 yards and scored Kingsford's other touchdown.

"They moved the ball on the ground better than we did," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said The Broncos rushed for only 65 yards. "We have been able to shut down the run, but (Kingsford) has been scoring 35-40 points on every team they've played."

With its offense sputtering in the first half, Coopersville trailed 14-0 at halftime.

"We had some people open but we didn't complete the passes," Meerman said. "Their defensive line dominated the line of scrimmage. Actually their line won both sides of the ball. In the second half, we played much better though."

The Broncos got on the scoreboard in the final minute of the third quarter when junior quarterback Brett Pfahler hit senior Sam VanderMolen with an 8-yard touchdown pass. They drew to within seven in the first three minutes of the fourth quarter when senior Blake Waldecker scored from seven yards out and Pfahler found Tim Jewell with a pass for the two-point conversion.

Coopersville looked to be driving for what could have been a tying score late in the game, but on third down from midfield, the Broncos were called for offensive pass interference. Instead of having a first down deep in Kingsford territory, they were penalized 15 yards and lost the down. Pfahler was sacked on the ensuing play and the game was virtually over.

"That play was big because we were moving the ball," Meerman said. "The loss of down hurt us a lot."

Pfahler completed 13-of-25 passes for 159 yards. "Coopersville took a lot of stuff away from us," Kingsford coach Chris Hofer said. "I don't think we expected them to throw the ball as much as they did, and as well as they did. They are a good team. Teams from the Grand Rapids area play some of the best football in the state."

Coopersville, having lost in the state championship game last year, was hoping for a return visit to Ford Field.

"We wanted to head back there again," Pfahler said. "We wanted to go back there, to win a state championship, especially for the seniors."

Said Meerman "We had a great run, losing our first three and then coming back the way we did. The kids didn't quit all year and they didn't quit tonight, either. We hate to see these seniors go. We were looking to go back, everyone would like to, but it didn't happen."



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Broncos Drop Season Opener
Saturday, August 30, 2008
By Jeff Chaney
The Grand Rapids Press

HAMILTON -- David Ptacek did damage all over the field.

The Hamilton senior quarterback/defensive back ran for two scores, threw for a touchdown and had an interception return for a touchdown in the Hawkeyes' 30-13 victory against visiting Coopersville on Friday night.

"This was a big win," said Ptacek, who finished the game with 67 yards rushing and 95 yards passing. "Last year we lost to Zeeland West in our first game ... so we wanted to come up big tonight."

Ptacek's first touchdown was a 15-yard scamper on his team's first drive, set up by a 63-yard run by running back Austin Schild.

After holding the Broncos on the first of two fourth-down conversion attempts on the ensuing drive, Ptacek scored his second touchdown nine plays later when he went in from 18 yards out and secured a two-score lead just eight minutes into the season.

"It was a lot of people out there, but Dave did his part, he is special," Hamilton coach Chris Myers said.

"This was a big win for us. They are a really good football team."

Coopersville wasn't about to go down without a fight.

The Broncos' first break of the game came early in the second quarter when defensive back Ryan Kelly made an acrobatic interception of a Ptacek pass.

Three plays later, Coopersville quarterback Brett Pfahler hit wide receiver Eric Flagg with a 32-yard touchdown catch that cut the Hawkeyes' lead in half at 14-7.

Ptacek repaid that favor right before halftime when he stepped in front of a Pfahler pass and returned it 40 yards to give his team a 20-7 lead.

"That interception return for a score really hurt us," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said. "They took it to us. But we did come back right after halftime and scored, so we were in the game."

The Broncos went on a 12-play, 76-yard drive after halftime, capped by a 4-yard touchdown run by running back Taylor Laug to make it a one-score game.

Hamilton kicker Dakota Sale hit a 21-yard field goal later in the third quarter to push the lead to 10, and Ptacek ended the scoring late when he hit Schild for a 52-yard touchdown pass.

"I can't tell you how hard these kids worked for this,"

Myers said. "We started getting ready for this game in January."

Schild finished the night with 162 yards rushing on 13 carries. Laug led the Broncos in rushing with 108 yards on 25 carries.



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090508 ZW
Broncos Run Past the Dux, 19-8

, September 06, 2008

COOPERSVILLE -- Zeeland West had just pulled within five points when Coopersville's Taylor Laug gathered in a kickoff and ran into one of his blockers.

He bounced, though, and then dashed 84 yards for a touchdown to lift Coopersville to a 19-8 non-conference win Friday night.

"It was supposed to be a middle return and it was clogged," Laug said. "I ran right into my own guy, but then just cut back and there was the daylight. I went 'thank you.' "

Laug finished with all three touchdowns for the 1-1 Broncos, all of which came in the second half of a game that was scoreless at halftime.

The senior tailback and defensive back finished with 155 yards rushing, including a 48-yard touchdown run that gave the Broncos a 13-0 lead through three quarters.

Zeeland West, 0-2, suffered six turnovers, including three lost fumbles and three interceptions. The Dux, known for their wing-T rushing attack, also lost the rushing battle 193-159.

They scored their only touchdown on a 50-yard pass from quarterback Andy O'Connor to Joe Gaiser with 11:31 remaining in the game.

Laug's kick return for a score followed 15 seconds later.

"That was a gut-buster," Zeeland West coach John Shillito said. "We made a big play to score, and got the (two-point conversion) to set us up to take the lead if we score again.

"Then you get a great play by that kid. He saw green, and he was faster than us."

Coopersville coach Jim Meerman was elated that his team forced turnovers. The Broncos lost last year to the Dux, and still remember the 2006 loss in the Division 4 state championship game at Ford Field.

"That is what I'm smiling about -- we made Zeeland West pass," Meerman said. "Not to take anything away from Hamilton, but we didn't play well last week. All the things we did in this game, we didn't do last week. We decided we had to get better, we had a good week of practice and a great game."

Shillito thought Coopersville made great plays for the most part on the interceptions, but he didn't like the lost fumbles.

"We had a bushel basket full of mistakes -- you can't put the ball on the ground like that," he said. "Really, we were right there, but they made more plays than us."



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Broncos Explode in 4th Quarter for 49-28 Win
By Tim Murray
The Grand Rapids Press

BELDING -- For the second game in a row, the Coopersville defense turned in a clutch performance.

After forcing six Zeeland West turnovers a week ago, the Broncos' ball-hawking defense came up with two timely turnovers in a 49-28 win against Belding on Friday night.

Coopersville (1-0 OK Blue, 2-1 overall) kept Belding (0-1, 0-3) out of the end zone late in the first half, when Bryan Koster recovered a fumble on his own 5-yard line. D.J. Lillibridge's 45-yard interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter sealed the game for the Broncos.

"I think somebody tipped (the pass), and I just grabbed it, saw a lane and just started running," Lillibridge said. "We just stayed after it and kept pushing and pushing."

Lillibridge's interception ended what was a long night for a Coopersville defense that surrendered 338 rushing yards. Belding running back Zach Watts carried the ball 25 times for 196 yards and four scores.

"Defensively, we struggled for a while, but I like the way our team made some adjustments late in the game," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said. "(Watts) got to the corner on us a few times, and we didn't expect that. That hurt us early."

Coopersville countered Belding's run-oriented attack with a balanced offense, and had five players account for the six offensive touchdowns. Taylor Laug led the way for the Broncos' ground game, collecting 131 yards on 21 carries, while Brett Pfahler hit 8-of-12 passes for 171 yards and three scores. Pfahler added a 1-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter.

"Coopersville does a very good job of doing multiple things, which puts a lot of pressure on your defense," Belding coach Joel Wilker said. "We fought hard, but they got us on a few plays."

Down 20-7 in the second quarter, Watts rushed Belding back into the game with a touchdown from the 2-yard line. He gave Belding its first lead of the game in the middle of the third quarter, bursting into the end zone for his third score of the game.

"He's just a tremendous athlete and competition," Wilker said of Watts. "He just put it all out there tonight. He's a special player.

"We are always confident that if we execute, we are going to get some yards. That is kind of our tradition."

Watts found the end zone again in the third quarter, answering Coopersville's touchdown pass from Pfahler to Brandon Jansen, to deadlock the teams 28-28 entering the fourth quarter.

A pair of Broncos rushing touchdowns from Pfahler and Jansen gave Coopersville a late 42-28 lead, setting the scene for Lillibridge's interception.

"This game was just what I expected," Meerman said. "We knew it was going to be hard fought. It is every time we come here."

COOPERSVILLE 49

BELDING 28

Belding (0-1, 0-3)   7  7  14  0   28
C'ville (1-0, 2-1)   14  6   8  21  49

C--Taylor Laug 41 run (Chet Andrews kick).

B--Zach Watts 3 run (Caleb Young kick).

C--Eric Flagg 45 pass from Brett Pfahler (Andrews kick).

C--Caleb VanTimmeren 31 pass from Pfahler (kick failed).

B--Watts 2 run (Young kick).

B--Watts 5 run (Young kick).

C--Brandon Jansen 14 pass from Pfahler (Laug run).

B--Watts 20 run (Young kick).

C--Jansen 11 run (Laug run).

C --Pfahler 1 run (Andrews kick).

C--D.J. Lillibridge 45 interception return (Andrews kick).



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Broncos Improve to 2-0 in League, 3-1 Overall

 The Broncos scored in the first 3 minutes of the game,

and had a 20-0 lead at the end of the 1st quarter. The Broncos did

all of their damage on the ground running up 258 yards. Taylor Laug

had 2 touchdowns, as did Tyler Umlor.

 

C--Taylor Laug 1 run (Chet Andrews kick). 

C--Laug 13 run (Andrews kick).

C--Caleb VanTimmeren 35 run (kick failed).

C--D.J. Lillibridge 1 run (Andrews kick).

C--Tyler Umlor 2 run (Andrews kick).

C--Umlor 8 run (Andrews kick).

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING --GR Central 28-106. Coopersville 51-258 (Laug 9-72).

PASSING --Coopersville, Brett Pfahler 2-6-0-28.

RECEIVING --Coopersville, VanTimmeren 1-17.

TACKLES--Coopersville, Nick Sherman 9.



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OK-Blue League Standings
Click on the title to check out the current league standings for the OK-Blue!

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Broncos Keep Friendship Trophy, Win 49-14
Saturday, September 27, 2008
By Matt Vande Bunte
The Grand Rapids Press

COOPERSVILLE -- His first pass was intercepted, but that didn't stop Brett Pfahler from airing it out. In a performance befitting the crown he donned at halftime, the senior quarterback threw early and often to spark a 49-14 homecoming win Friday for Coopersville.

It was the 22nd win in the past 25 games against rival Sparta, and it kept the Broncos tied atop the O-K Blue Conference with West Catholic, their opponent in the season finale.

"Coach is a genius with play calling," said Pfahler, who threw for 222 yards and two first-half touchdowns. "He spread it out, and I just kind of read it. We've got some tall, fast receivers to throw to and that helps."

Sparta (2-3, 2-1) struck first after junior Luke Rykse intercepted Pfahler's first pass. Sophomore quarterback Cameron Cooper threw to Tyler Thompson, who slipped a tackle and raced 73 yards before getting tripped up near the goal line. Cooper took it across on a bootleg to make it 6-0.

But the lead lasted just 11 seconds, as Coopersville senior Taylor Laug burned through a seam up the middle for a 90-yard kickoff return. Then, Pfahler went to work.

On his next 11 passes, the lone incompletion came on a third-down play when his receiver slipped. No problem. Pfahler calmly held the pocket and connected on a fourth-down pass that led to the first of three touchdowns as the Broncos took a 28-6 lead 13 minutes into the game.

Pfahler hit 5-of-6 passes for 74 yards on a 90-yard drive that Laug capped by leaping over a pile from two yards out. The signal-caller later pump-faked a defender and found Caleb VanTimmeren on a 28-yard scoring strike to make it 21-6, then tossed a screen pass to Laug, who picked his way through a host of blockers for a 38-yard score.

"I thought we threw the ball real well in the first half," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said. "They sent nine guys to stop the run, so we opened it up."

Sparta got a burst of life out of the locker room when Daniel Konkle bounced off a tackler at the line and sped 83 yards to make it 28-14. The Spartans took advantage of Coopersville penalties on both sides of the ball to gain a first-and-goal at the 6-yard line.

But Broncos senior Ryan Kelly dove to knock down a third-down pass and laid out to block a field-goal attempt.

"It was early in the half, and I felt like we had some momentum. We wanted to leave that drive with something positive," Sparta coach Steve Zurek said about his decision to try a field goal. "If the points go on the board and we stuff them again, it's a great call. Obviously, at 49-14, it's the wrong call.

"We just can't find a way to put points on the board."

After an interception return by senior Bruce Veeneman and a blocked punt, Coopersville (4-1, 3-0) added a pair of 2-yard scoring drives to blow the game open.

COOPERSVILLE 49

SPARTA 14

S--Cameron Cooper 2 run (kick missed).

C--Taylor Laug 90 kickoff return (Chet Andrews kick).

C--Laug 2 run (kick failed).

C--Caleb VanTimmeren 28 pass from Brett Pfahler (Aaron Euddles pass from Pfahler).

C--Laug 38 pass from Pfahler (Andrews kick).

S--Daniel Konkle 83 run (Chris Phillips pass from Cooper).

C--Laug 2 run (Andrews kick).

C--D.J. Lillibridge 2 run (Andrews kick).

C--Josh Schumaker 2 run (Ryan Kelly kick).

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING -- Sparta 30-166 (Konkle 12-93). Coopersville 35-134 (Pfahler 6-33).

PASSING --Sparta, Cooper 5-19-1-106. Coopersville, Pfahler 13-21-1-222.

RECEIVING --Sparta, Tyler Thompson 1-73. Coopersville, Eric Flagg 4-91.



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Broncos Stay Unbeaten in League, 5-1 Overall

The explosive Broncos won their fifth straight, and they scored 40 or more points for the fourth consecutive week. Travis Laug scored Coopersville's first two touchdowns, running the opening kickoff back 96 yards and intercepting a pass and bringing it back 45 yards for another score. Zach Yeo scored a pair of touchdowns for the Red Hawks.

COOPERSVILLE 55

CEDAR SPRINGS 20

C--Travis Laug 96 kickoff return (Chet Andrews kick)

C--Travis Laug 45 interception return (Andrews kick)

C--D.J. Lillibridge 62 run (kick failed)

CS--Zach Yeo 9 run (kick failed)

CS--Yeo 6 run (Matt Sheeley kick)

C--Taylor Laug 3 run (Andrews kick)

C--Bret Pfahler 7 run (Andrews kick)

CS--Shane Bratt 87 run (Sheeley kick)

C--Caleb VanTimmeren 18 run (Andrews kick)

C--Taylor Laug 17 run (Andrews kick)

C--Tyler Umlor 8 run (Andrews kick)

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING--Coopersville 42-379 (Lillibridge 3-109, Taylor Laug 13-107), Cedar Springs 39-232 (Bratt 6-96).

PASSING--Coopersville, Pfahler 5-8-1-96. Cedar Springs 3-10-2-26 (Sam Sanders 2-8-1-17).

RECEIVING--Coopersville, Eric Flagg 3-72. Cedar Springs, Cory Draves 2-13.

TACKLES--Coopersville, Jake Lemieux 6. Cedar Springs, Scott Vodry 8.



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Broncos Enter Playoff Pool with 6th Win

The Broncos won their sixth in a row after jumping out to a 28-20 halftime lead, and finished the game off in the 2nd half for the 42-22 final. Tyler Umlor rushed for 142 yards and scored on touchdown runs of 50 and 4 yards. T.J. McCutcheon passed for 236 yards and threw touchdown passes to Beau Deubridge and Trevor Crittendon.

C--Caleb VanTimmeran 9 run (Chet Andrews kick).

CP--Beau Dubridge 76 pass from T.J McCutcheon (kick failed).

C--Travis Laug 8 run (Andrews kick).

CP--Shawn Jackson 14 run (pass failed).

C--Laug 6 run (Andrews kick).

C--Tyler Umlor 50 run (Andrews kick).

CP--Trevor Crittendon 61 pass from McCutcheon (run successful).

C--Eric Flagg 5 pass from Brett Pfahler (Andrews kick).

CP--safety.

C--Umlor 4 run (Andrews kick).

TEAM STATISTICS/LEADERS

RUSHING--Comstock Park 25-59 (Jackson 10-55). Coopersville 42-284 (Umlor 21-142).

PASSING--Comstock Park, McCutcheon 11-25-1-236. Coopersville, Pfahler 9-14-0-79 .

RECEIVING--Comstock Park, Crittendon 5-92. Coopersville, Flagg 5-48.

TACKLES--Comstock Park, Tyler Jenks 8. Coopersville, D.J. Lillibridge, Ryan Kelly 6.



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Bronco Win Sets Up Showdown at West Catholic

The Broncos 42-14 win over Forest Hills Northern sets up a Championship game on Friday at West Catholic.  Both teams enter the game 6-0 in league play, and the winner will wear the OK-Blue crown for 2008.

The Broncos won their seventh in a row after taking a 28-0 lead. Brett Pfahler threw a pair of touchdown passes to Eric Flagg and Taylor Laug rushed for two more scores. FHN's Dan Michaud passed for 82 yards and one touchdown.

Forest Hills Northern (1-7)    0 0 14 0 -- 14
Coopersville (7-1)            14 7 21 0 -- 42

C --Taylor Laug 44 run (Chet Andrews kick)

C -- Eric Flagg 9 pass from Brett Pfahler (Andrews kick)

C -- Caleb VanTimmeran 17 run (Andrews kick)

C -- Laug52 run (Andrews kick)

FHN -- Leighton Watson 83 kickoff return (Mike Sadler kick)

C --Tyler Umlor 7 run (Andrews kick)

C --Flagg 27 pass from Pfahler (Andrews kick)

FHN -- Taylor Wolf 16 pass from Dan Michaud (Sadler kick)



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Sunday, October 26
Broncos Finish 2nd in OK-Blue
Saturday, October 25, 2008
By Dean Holzwarth
The Grand Rapids Press

GRAND RAPIDS -- West Catholic was feeling Blue after Friday night's regular-season finale against Coopersville.

There wasn't a hint of sadness after its dominating display of football at Falcon Stadium.

In its first season in a new conference, West Catholic won the O-K Blue Conference championship with a 35-0 win against the Broncos.

Both teams came in with unbeaten conference records.

West Catholic (7-0 Blue, 7-2 overall) finished the regular season with seven consecutive wins after back-to-back losses to start the season.

"I think our defense, more than anything over the last seven weeks, has continued to improve, and it's a huge credit to my defensive coaching staff," said Falcons coach Dan Rohn, whose team won the final City League title last season. "(Assistant coach) Todd (Conrad) definitely has those kids playing well. All week, we preach playing as 11, and they did that tonight."

West Catholic used a smothering defense to buck Coopersville's offensive attack. The Falcons picked off quarterback Brett Pfahler four times.

Falcons' defensive back Curtis Burns had two interceptions, one of which he returned 60 yards for a touchdown on Coopersville's first possession of the second half.

"I saw it deflect, and as soon as I caught it I didn't think I could run fast enough," Burns said. "Tonight, we came out and executed, and we were in the right place at the right time to make plays."

West Catholic was especially stout against the run, and limited the Broncos to 63 yards on 30 carries.

Senior linebacker Max Dunneback had a game-high 14 tackles, and senior Brian Gay was the anchor of the defensive line and also had a sack.

"Tonight we had a good game plan on defense, and we stuck to it," Gay said. "I thought it was going to be a closer game because they are ranked and have a good team, but we dominated. And winning the Blue feels amazing, especially after coming out

0-2."

West Catholic started slow with a turnover and a muffed punt, but a 14-play drive that took five minutes ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Nick Ford to Jake Visser.

Zac Smith's 4-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the first half put West Catholic up 14-0.

Smith, who had seven catches for 75 yards, added a 30-yard score in the fourth quarter, and Josh Sweedyk sprinted 62 yards for another.

"We're disappointed that we didn't win, but we lost to a good football team," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said. "We didn't make things happen and they did, and our defense was on the field way too long.

"We have to bounce back. We're in the playoffs, so we'll go from there."



Broncos Suffer Opening Night Loss 21-0

, August 28, 2009

COOPERSVILLE -- Hamilton came up with two big strikes in its first five offensive plays to fuel a 21-0 win against Coopersville on Friday night.

After a strong defensive stand, Hamilton quarterback Evan Mudd teamed with Aric Spotts on a 64-yard pass to put the Hawkeyes in the end zone on their third play from scrimmage.

On their next possession, the Hawkeyes needed just two plays to score again on a 55-yard pass from Mudd to Nate White for a 14-0 lead with 31 seconds left in the first quarter.

"Evan has worked real hard; he's a heady kid," Hamilton coach Chris Myers said. "He's smart with a lot of God-given ability. He can throw it and he can run it."

Mudd completed 7-of-14 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns, and Spotts rushed for 123 yards on 11 carries and caught two passes for 76 yards.

The Hamilton tandem did a nice job of taking over for graduates David Ptacek (quarterback) and Austin Schild (running back), who made up much of the team's offense last season.

"Everyone else was concerned with replacing David and Austin," Myers said. "Aric Spotts came through tonight. He's worked his tail off. It's good to see kids like that, that deserve good things happening to them."

The defense came through as well.

Hamilton's Todd Scholten picked off a pass by Travis Smith in the second quarter. He later helped Cody Buresh stuff a Coopersville drive on fourth-and-1 from the Hawkeyes' 36-yard line.

"I felt fortunate that we were only down 14-0 at half," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said. "We moved the ball on them, but we didn't establish big plays. We had quite a few first downs.

"They hurt us with a couple big plays early, but I thought we made adjustments. Defensively, I thought we settled down a bit in the second half, but we fumbled the punt and gave them great field position (on Coopersville's 34).

"They are a very well-disciplined team and well prepared. You're going to have to play well to beat them."

Hamilton scored its final touchdown on a 16-yard run by Spotts in the third quarter.

"We were expecting a dogfight coming in here and playing those guys," Myers said. "They have a good football team and they will be fine. Their kids are well coached and they played hard tonight.

"We had big plays and our kids tackled well and at times blocked pretty well tonight."

Smith completed 14-of-27 passes for 163 yards and rushed for 54 yards on eight carries to lead Coopersville. Ryan Fenna rushed for 46 yards on 17 carries.

Adam Koning and Dylan Raymond had nine tackles apiece for Hamilton.



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Broncos Drop Tough Game to Zeeland West

, September 03, 2009

ZEELAND -- Playing with its third-string quarterback because of injuries, Zeeland West held off Coopersville 16-8 on Thursday.

The Dux lost starting quarterback Andy O'Connor this week during practice. Derek Postma left the game in the second quarter with a dislocated elbow.

Enter Sam VandeWaa.

"I'm proud of Sam VandeWaa," Zeeland West coach John Shillito said. "To have stepped into that situation and lead us the way he did, I'm just proud of him for his own personal fortitude to stay on the course and be ready, because that's not very easy.

"You can't say enough about it. He's a solid, solid kid."

After Coopersville's opening drive deep into Zeeland West territory, Kham Kitterath sparked the Dux (2-0) with a pickoff on their own 15-yard line.

"I thought Kham made a big play," Shillito said. "He read it great and that was a huge play at that point in time."

The Dux scored on their second play of their possession on Zach Voet's 80-yard run. Joe Gaiser ran in the two-point conversion for an 8-0 lead.

Voet finished with 124 yards rushing on 14 carries, and Gaiser had 82 on 20.

"Zach's been a great runner for us ... for a junior who had no varsity experience," Shillito said.

In the third quarter, the Dux came up with another big defensive stop, this time on a fourth-and-one on their 37-yard line.

"We made mistakes," said Coopersville coach Jim Meerman, whose team dropped to 0-2. "They're just too good of a team for that.

"We're not all on the same page yet."

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Gaiser stretched Zeeland West's lead by scoring on from 10-yards out. Voet's conversion run gave the Dux a 16-0 lead with 11:55 remaining.

Coopersville scored its first touchdown of the season with 6:05 left in the game.

Ryan Senna scampered 15 yards to put his team on the board, and then quarterback Travis Smith connected with Jordan Salinas on the conversion pass to end the scoring.

Senna led Coopersville in rushing with 60 yards on 11 carries, and Travis Smith completed 6-for-13 passes for 48 yards.



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vs. FHN
Saturday, October 10
Broncos Move to 5-2; Set Up Showdown with WC
COMSTOCK PARK -- Although he was intrigued by the idea of his team playing at Fifth Third Ballpark, Coopersville football coach Jim Meerman said he would have preferred that Friday night's O-K Blue Conference game was played at Forest Hills Northern on FieldTurf.

With a steady rain falling, the home of the West Michigan Whitecaps baseball team stood up to the water pretty well, but the dirt infield became muddy, which caused for sloppy play.

But Meerman's Broncos held on for a key league win, beating the Huskies 34-24 to remain undefeated in the league and set up a showdown against West Catholic next week at home.

"This really isn't me -- I wish we could have played on FieldTurf, especially tonight," Meerman said. "It was a little sloppy out there, but it's a win and we're right where we want to be."

Coopersville (5-2, 5-0) was first to take advantage of the wet conditions, recovering Forest Hills Northern's fumble on the first play from scrimmage.

Three plays later, Coopersville senior quarterback Travis Smith hit senior wide receiver Brandon Jansen for a 36-yard touchdown pass and 7-0 lead.

The Broncos then recovered the ensuing kickoff but were unable to take advantage when a 31-yard field goal was blocked after a 9-play drive.

That seemed to spark the host Huskies, who scored on a 40-yard run by junior running back Leighton Watson.

Coopersville took advantage the rest of the first half, scoring twice for a 21-6 lead to end the half.

"Coopersville is a very well-coached football team," Forest Hills Northern coach Jeff Rapelje said. "Their team does not make a lot of mistakes, and for us to make the mistakes that we did, you can't do that against a team like Coopersville."

The Huskies (5-2, 1-4) responded in the third quarter.

Coopersville fumbled on the kickoff to open the second half. Forest Hills Northern's Alden Solon's 21-yard touchdown run put the Huskies within striking distance.

The Broncos offensive line then took control, which led to an 8-play drive that was capped off by Travis Laug's 4-yard run for a 27-12 advantage.

"We made less mistakes than they did, but it was hard to keep the kids focused tonight," Meerman said. "But when we needed to move the ball, we did, and when we needed to stop them, we did."

The Huskies added two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, but Coopersville was too far ahead.

"We have been getting better week by week," Rapelje said. "We just made too many mistakes tonight, especially on defense."

Sophomore running back Ryan Senna led Coopersville with 189 yards on 29 carries.

Watson paced Forest Hills Northern with 92 yards on 15 carries and two touchdowns.


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Broncos Handle Rams for League Win

COOPERSVILLE 48, G.R. CENTRAL 0: Coopersville (1-0, 1-2) opened O-K Blue conference play by thrashing Central (0-1, 0-3). The Broncos bolted out to 28-0 first quarter lead which increased to 41-0 at halftime forcing a running clock for the second half.

"We were able to contain their offense by not allowing any big plays and also did a nice job moving the ball," said Coopersville coach Jim Meerman. "It was a good way to get our first win and we want to build off this."

On offense, sophomore running back Ryan Senna scored two first-quarter touchdowns with 37 and 1-yard runs after Andy Beers opened with a 27-yard gallop to pay dirt. Brandon Jansen had a big night receiving and hauled in a 36-yard toss from Travis Smith for the next tally. A 22-yard run by Zeke Hecksel and a Nathan Flagg 1-yard plunge finished the first half onslaught. Chadd Pfahler's 40-yard touchdown run in the third quarter provided the final margin of victory. The Broncos amassed 406 total yards (311 rushing and 95 passing) during the game.

Defensively, rover back Beers was all over the field attacking the Ram offense with four first hits and gathering an interception. Travis Laug also picked off two tosses to thwart the Central offensive attack.

The Broncos will travel to rival Sparta in O-K Blue conference play this Friday, and Meerman looks forward to the challenge.

"It is always a good game between these two schools. They also got their first win, so we will both be looking to build some momentum for the season" said Meerman.



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Coops Claims Friendship Trophy - Again

SPARTA - Jim Meerman wasn't quite sure what sort of football his young team would deliver this year.

The Coopersville mentor learned a lot about his Broncos on Friday night. After dropping their first two games, the Broncos are hitting their stride with a power rushing attack that is beginning to recall the Coopersville teams of old. That was a great sign for Meerman, but bad news for the host Spartans.

Led by speedy sophomore tailback Ryan Senna, the Broncos broke a halftime stalemate and unleashed three consecutive rushing touchdowns to muscle past Sparta 28-14. The win put the Broncos (2-0, 2-2) as one of the early frontrunners in the O-K Blue Conference race.

"We made some mistakes in the first half that I thought we should have capitalized on, but I thought we played a great game," said Meerman. "I thought defensively we shut their quarterback (Sparta junior Cam Cooper) down most of the night. He's a very talented kid, and that was our worry coming in.

"We kept him contained, and offensively we knew we had to run the football. We thought we're a little bigger up front, and I thought the Senna kid ran real well. (Senior Andy) Beers did a nice job. They took away our pass, but we ran the ball real effectively, and I think we ate up a lot of the clock in the second half."

The Broncos' big game-changing break came on Sparta's first drive of the second half. Facing a first-and-26 from their own 8-yard line after a holding penalty, the Spartans coughed up the ball, giving the Broncos possession from the Sparta 3.

Senna promptly marched in for the 3-yard touchdown run, and junior Chet Andrews booted his second extra point of the game for the 14-7 Coopersville lead. The Broncos didn't look back from there.

After stopping the Spartans on their next drive, Senna and the Broncos went right back to work with a 46-yard scoring drive. This time Senna and Beers combined to drive Coopersville to the Sparta 14, where senior Travis Laug scored on a reverse for the 20-7 Bronco lead.

The Spartans couldn't get anything going offensively in the second half, but the Broncos continued to roll. Coopersville orchestrated a 53-yard, nearly five-minute fourth-quarter drive that culminated in an 11-yard touchdown by Beers. Senna also scampered for 34 yards on the drive that gave the Broncos a commanding 28-7 advantage after Laug's 2-point conversion run.

Sparta closed the game with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Cooper to senior Kyle Schoonmaker as time expired. Senior Nolan Rau's second extra-point kick made it a more respectable 28-14 game, but it was too little, too late for the Spartans.

"I thought in the second half for us was a big mistake down on our goal line," said Sparta coach Steve Zurek. "That fumble in that game really turned the momentum. From there Coopersville just started playing Coopersville football. They manage the clock so well; they run downhill so well. That's a big, strong football team, and they did a great job tonight."

Both teams had their fair share of chances in the first half. On their first possession, the Broncos drove 66 yards and took 5:56 off the clock. But they turned the ball over on downs, giving the ball back to Sparta at the 15-yard line.

Sparta then drove 85 yards in 14 plays, culminating in a 5-yard run by Cooper with 9:32 left in the second quarter. But the Broncos answered immediately with a 57-yard run by Senna and a 23-yard scoring scamper by Laug to notch the game at 7-7.

Senna had 154 yards on 23 carries for the Broncos, while junior Rob Reens anchored the defense with seven tackles.

Junior Dan Konkle led Sparta with 47 yards rushing and 39 yards on three catches. Cooper went 8-of-13 for 82 yards, and sophomore Tony Hill had 15 tackles.

Sparta (1-1, 1-3) faces Grand Rapids Central on Friday, while Coopersville hosts Cedar Springs.



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Broncos Play Like Royalty in Homecoming Victory
COOPERSVILLE 28, CEDAR SPRINGS 7: Coopersville jumped out to a 14-0 halftime advantage and went on to post a 28-7 O-K Blue victory against visiting Cedar Springs Friday night.

The Broncos, now 3-2 overall and 3-0 in the O-K Blue, got on the scoreboard early in the second period when sophomore Ryan Senna, who finished with 82 yards on 13 carries, scored on a 14-yard run. Sophomore Jordan Salinas later hauled in a three-yard scoring pass from senior quarterback Travis Smith. Smith finished with five-of-seven passing for 110 yards and a score.

"We were a little sluggish in the third period," said Coopersville veteran coach Jim Meeriman. "We moved the ball up and down the field all game but were unable to put points on the board. We let them stay in the game and that's always dangerous, but the interception for a touchdown in the third period gave us a lift."

Senior Travis Laug picked off a Cedar Springs pass and returned it 41 yards for a score in the third quarter. Cedar Springs countered that touchdown with a 20-yard run by Shane Bratt, the only score for the Red Hawks, now 2-3 overall and 1-2 in the O-K Blue.

"We're playing a lot of young players this year," Meeriman said. "Our front four on the defensive line are all underclassmen. They're getting better every game but we have a tough game against Comstock Park next week."



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Broncos Rain on Comstock Parks Parade

COMSTOCK PARK - The Coopersville Broncos have shown nothing but gutsy play all football season. Friday night's rain-soaked showdown at Comstock Park was no exception.

Led by sophomore power running back Ryan Senna, the Broncos literally rained on the Panthers' Homecoming parade by breaking a halftime stalemate and scoring 19 unanswered points in the second half. The 19-0 shutout victory improved Coopersville's record to 4-0 in the O-K Blue and 4-2 overall, all after starting the season 0-2.

"Tonight we were a little sluggish in the first half, but I was happy in the second half," said Coopersville coach Jim Meerman. "I thought we did some nice things in the second half. We've been playing good defense, and that's keeping us in ball games too. We've got a young team; we're starting eight underclassmen on defense.

"So we're getting there."

Defense was the order of the day for both teams, but the Broncos finally found the scoreboard on their opening drive of the second half. Coopersville senior quarterback Travis Smith twice connected with sophomore receiver Jordan Salinas on the drive, once for 42 yards to the Panthers 23-yard line. Three plays later, Smith rifled a pass to a wide-open Salinas down the left side for a 36-yard touchdown pass.

Junior Chet Andrews' extra-point kick made it 7-0 Broncos with 8:29 left in the third quarter.

Neither team took advantage of the other's miscues throughout the remainder of the period. First, the Panthers turned the ball over on downs at the Coopersville 32-yard line after a holding penalty. But CP senior Kyle May picked off a Bronco pass, only to have Coopersville senior Dan Zemaitis recover a Panther fumble three plays later.

The fourth quarter, however, belonged to the Broncos. Coopersville began by marching 47 yards in 12 plays to the Panthers 6, culminating in a 23-yard field-goal by Smith with 6:43 left to play.

Then things got worse for CP when a holding penalty on the kickoff pinned the Panthers back at their own 12. On fourth-and-1 from their own 21, the Panthers fumbled the ball, recovered it, then pitched it backwards until it was fumbled again in the end zone. Coopersville senior Corey Senna pounced on the ball for a touchdown and a 17-0 lead with 4:50 remaining.

Later, Comstock Park committed a penalty in its own end zone on its next drive, resulting in a safety for the Broncos and the 19-0 final score.

The first half was a story of punts and turnovers amidst the soggy playing conditions. Coopersville senior Andy Beers recovered a CP fumble 5:21 into the game, only to have his Broncos punt it away. In the second quarter, the Panthers, anchored by a balanced rushing attack, drove 50 yards to the Bronco 12 but lost the ball again to a fumble.

Coopersville then drove 73 yards, but it turned the ball over on downs after Panther senior Justin Lyon broke up a Bronco pass on a fourth-and-2 from the CP 15. The scoreless halftime scoreboard displayed the results of a thorough defensive slugfest.

Ryan Senna led all rushers with 105 yards on 20 carries, and he's been the anchor on a Bronco team that suffered some early injuries this season.

"He's a sophomore; he's gutty," said Meerman. "He's a gutty kid. He keeps banging. He does a nice job for us already and he's just a sophomore. We lost (Tyler) Umlor early, and that hurt us. He got banged up a little bit, so we had to rely on (Senna) more. And he's come through for us."

Smith went 6-of-12 for 132 yards for Coopersville, while Salinas had four catches for 110 yards and a touchdown. Salinas and junior Garrett Carpenter led the Bronco defense with seven tackles apiece.

May banged out 65 yards on 17 carries to lead the Panthers (2-4), while sophomore Tyler Gruszka had 11 tackles.



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Broncos Play Tough, but Can't Control WC

 

COOPERSVILLE -- The West Catholic football team had not faced much adversity through the first seven weeks of the season.

The undefeated Falcons have been nearly injury free and have outscored opponents 331-83.

But this week, the flu bug stung West Catholic. It could not have come at a worse time, with a game at Coopersville on Friday with the O-K Blue Conference title at stake.

The Falcons had five players sidelined by illness, including two starting linebackers, against the Broncos, who were undefeated in the league and looking to knock defending conference champion West Catholic from its perch.

The first half played out that way, with Coopersville and West Catholic exchanging punches. The Falcons exploded in the second half and pulled away for a 29-0 win at Robinson Field.

"We needed this," West Catholic coach Dan Rohn said. "We have been on a little bit of a run, and I wanted to see how we would handle some adversity and our backs to the wall."

The first half mainly was a battle of field position and punts.

The Falcons (6-0, 8-0) broke through for two scores on a 31-yard field goal by Gabe Audu and a 1-yard touchdown run by running back Loren Suggs for a 10-0 advantage.

The second half was much different for the explosive West Catholic offense, coming up with big play after big play.

The first big play came two plays into the second half when West Catholic senior quarterback Nick Ford, who was celebrating his birthday, connected on a 76-yard pass to Zack Smith.

One play later, Suggs scored on a 17-yard rushing touchdown and the Falcons were off and running.

"A lot of credit goes to our senior quarterback," Rohn said. "He made big plays and put us in position to succeed."

Ford struck again later in the third quarter when he hit Dan Pittman on a 49-yard touchdown pass and capped off West Catholic's scoring on a 51-yard touchdown run.

"I think, physically, we played ball with them," Coopersville coach Jim Meerman said. "They had been punishing every team they have played up to this point, so by that view point I was happy.

"But I told the team that if you want to win championships, you have to make big plays, and that's what they did."

West Catholic finished with 376 total yards, and Coopersville (5-1, 5-3) had 150.

"I'm proud of my team and staff," Meerman said. "We lost to a good team."



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