Belding football’s long trip

By Chip Burch • Last Updated 3:58 pm on Tuesday, October 04, 2011

BELDING — Belding’s football team had a big win Friday when they beat Harper Woods 46-0.
But the fact that the Redskins had to even schedule the game was quite a process, noted head coach and athletic director Joel Wilker.
“What happened is two years ago when Grand Rapids Central closed, that left a void in our schedule in the O-K Blue, and for every O-K Blue school,” Wilker recounted. “Ours was week 6. That’s a difficult week to schedule because it’s in the middle of the conference schedules. Last year we had Cadillac and they were caught up in realignment. So we were looking for week six games and the only availabilities were on the east side of the state.”
It took a while for Wilker to find Harper Woods was available.
“That was in April, so we were struggling to find any week 6,” he said.
The thought was never to just schedule eight games this year, Wilker noted.
“The farther it got you were hoping that wasn’t a reality,” he said. “Particularly for the seniors, we wanted to play all the games. We were worried that might become a reality if things didn’t work out.”
Then Harper Woods called Wilker, and the game was set. Once that happened it was a matter of getting to the game itself.
“Because we were concerned with travel in the 696 area, we left about 1 o’clock,” Wilker said. “We drove to the Brighton area where there was a rest stop. We got out and walked around. We got to a place called Memorial Park and stopped there in St. Clair Shores. We got there around 4 o’clockish. We had food and did a walk-through. We got on the bus and drove to Harper Woods. We got there about 5 to 5:30. At that point we were on our normal football schedule.”
The players were good about the long trip, Wilker noted.
“They did a pretty good job with it,” he said. “They realized when we stopped at the park they realized it was like we were leaving Belding to go to another school. On the bus ride they were relaxed, but when we got on the bus from that point it was a normal us ride. They did a good job.”
In the game, Belding rushed for 310 yards, led by Brendan Zuver with 10 carries for 91 yards and Sean Brandli with 10 carries for 60 yards.”
“They were an athletic team,” Wilker said of Harper Woods. “I don’t know if they played the same level of competition we play. That worked to our advantage. Our defense did a great job of stopping the run, and our special teams blocked a couple of punts. They didn’t make a lot of yards. Our offense ran the ball effectively. We had a lot of people play and the defense scored. It was a group effort.”
WIlker doesn’t know if the same thing will happen next season because realignment in all the O-K conferences is on hold. The latest proposal was voted down last week.
“The bottom line is we’re still waiting on the O-K Conference realignment to determine where the league will be,” Wilker said. “We have week 1 at Greenville and week 2 we have (Lake Odessa) Lakewood at our place. But we’re waiting on the O-K Conference realignment.”

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