BELDING — The Belding Redskins scored early and often. In the process, they stunned the capacity crowd on both sides of the football field.
The Greenville Yellow Jackets had won five straight games and nine of the last 10 against the Redskins. The streak is no longer intact after the Redskins rolled up more than 400 yards rushing and convincingly defeated the Yellow Jackets 47-14.
The Redskins — now in year two under coach Joe Schwander — played outstanding on both sides of the ball. Belding totaled 541 yards of offense and held the Yellow Jackets to just 215 yards.
“They did great. This is what you work for and these kids worked so hard,” Schwander said. “Last year didn’t sit well. We are all competitors, every coach, every kid and our kids just worked extremely hard. Not to take anything away from them (Greenville), because they work hard too, but our kids were confident in what we were doing. Last year, they weren’t.
“I’m proud of the kids. This community, to see everyone out here, they needed this. This was a good thing,” he added.
The Redskins started the scoring — just 1:35 into the game — on just their second play of the season. Senior Neil McCully found a hole and raced 51 yards for the touchdown. A missed extra point gave the Redskins a 6-0 lead.
That would be the first of three scores for McCully, who finished the game with 223 yards on nine carries. He also caught four passes for 63 yards.
“He is a tremendous athlete, great kid in school and a captain,” Schwander said of McCully. “He works really hard and our goal with him is to see how good he can really be.”
After a punt by Greenville, the Redskins again scored on a big play. This time, junior Michael Walker sprinted 64 yards for a touchdown and a 13-0 advantage.
“They are a good team. There is no way around it,” Greenville coach Dave Moore said. “They did a great job running the ball. We said going in, we needed to stop the run and we needed to run the ball. We did not stop the run at all and it took us out of our game a little bit.”
The Yellow Jackets scored just 25 seconds later. Senior quarterback Ryan Davis went 43 yards on a keeper around the right side to pull Greenville to within 13-7.
Unfortunately, that was about it for the Greenville offense in the first half. Belding, though found the end zone four more times for a 40-7 halftime lead.
“We knew what they were going to do. That was the big thing,” Schwander said. “Without a doubt, our kids knew when the play started. Defensively, we shut them down. Our kids knew our assignments and knew what they were doing.”
Less than a minute after Greenville’s score, Belding quarterback Kole Hart, off a fumble snapped, picked the ball up and went 60 yards straight down the middle of the field for a score.
“I fumbled it and reached down to get it. Coach always says run to where the play is supposed to be,” Hart said. “I did, the line had a nice hole and I kept going.”
McCully followed that up with an 82-yard score on a third-and-12 play. Hart accounted for the next two scores, one on a three-yard run and the other a 30-yard pass to senior Nick Price with just 47 seconds left in the half.
“Our line was great. They opened up holes everywhere,” Hart said. “The line and our linebackers were blowing everything up. They knew their keys, were reading them and flying to the ball.”
“It was all trap, a couple of belly plays, but mostly trap,” Moore said. “We know how to defend that. We’ve done a good job for years against these guys, but we didn’t execute.”
Beldng scored on its first possession of the second half — a 24-yard run by McCully — to increase the lead to 47-7. Any lead more than 35 points in the second half initiates a running clock.
Greenville scored one final time late in the fourth quarter when senior Jake Hopkins rushed 41 yards for a touchdown.
By then, the Redskins were already in victory mode.
“It felt great. We beat them as freshmen and it’s been a two-year drought,” Hart said. “This year, we knew going into the game we could do it as long as we worked as a team and perform together. We did it and pulled it out.”
Hart threw for 93 yards, while Walker finished with 74 yards on two carries.
Carter Stephens led the Yellow Jackets with 28 yards rushing and Brennan Ramirez had four catches for 31 yards.
“We can’t hang our head and we can’t get down,” Moore said. “We have to regroup and play again next week. We don’t have time in the game to worry about what is the past. We will learn from our mistakes and get better and move on.”
Belding (1-0) travels to Lake Odessa Lakewood next week, while the Yellow Jackets (0-1) host Kenowa Hills.