MUSKEGON — Vestaburg’s football team ran into one of the toughest opponents in Division 8 Friday night.
“They’re bigger, stronger, faster,” Wolverine coach Dan Ryckman said.
“They” were Vestaburg’s first round opponent, Muskegon Catholic Central, which dominated Vestaburg 61-8 in the first round of the playoffs Friday night.
The Crusaders (7-3) jumped all over the Wolverines (6-4) in the first quarter, scoring 34 points in a span of 6:11. Two touchdowns by Alex Lewandoski and single scores by Tommy Scott, Zach Campbell and Zach Winzer led to the 34 points.
Of those 34 first-quarter points, 20 were a result of three Vestaburg turnovers.
“It (the turnovers) made a huge difference but you still have to tackle,” Ryckman said. “We missed a lot of tackles in the first quarter.”
Turnovers were something Ryckman stressed the Wolverines couldn’t do.
“I talked to the boys on the way down here (to Muskegon) and in the pregame; zero turnovers and stop the big play and do our thing,’” Ryckman said. “I don’t think we did any of the three in the first half very well.”
Lewandoski added another touchdown in the second quarter on an 84-yard run and Blake Sanford scored two plays after Vestaburg’s fourth turnover of the game to make the score 47-0 halfway through the quarter.
It wasn’t until 1:15 left in the half when Wolverine running back Austin Blanks scored on a 15-yard run to avoid the shutout.
In fact, at halftime, Muskegon Catholic outrushed Vestaburg 201-95. Take out the 95 yards rushing Christian Benavidez had in the first half and Vestaburg had only 33 yards of offense, all on the arm of quarterback Austin Myers and the receiving arms of Jake Kimbrough.
“We weren’t able to move the ball at all,” Ryckman said. “We didn’t control the line of scrimmage and I believe they (Muskegon Catholic) did that.”
The running clock was on to start the second half, but Lewandoski scored his fourth touchdown on a 24-yard run and backup quarterback Nick Holt scampered in from 19 yards out to open the fourth quarter for the final score.
Lewandoski led the Crusaders with 157 yards on just five carries.
Benavidez went backwards in the second half, losing two yards to finish with 93 rushing yards on eight carries.
“They (Muskegon Catholic) are pretty fast and pretty big up front,” Ryckman said. “I’m not taking anything away from them.”
Myers also struggled throwing the ball, going 2-of-11 for the 33 first-half yards, getting intercepted twice.
“We played pretty good all year,” Ryckman said. “We’re not at the level of Muskegon Catholic, evidently.”
Still, Ryckman said the loss didn’t diminish the season.
“I still think the season is a success because our program knows where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve learned different defenses, we got different defensive packages, we can do more things, we can do things we’ve never been able to do, like pass.”
The Crusaders will face Fowler, who mercied Baldwin 42-0, next weekend.