FHC clinches home-field advantage in playoffs; beats Wayland 35-0

Jake Heilman, Sports Editor in Chief

FHC was firing on all cylinders Friday night as they stomped the Wayland Wildcats 35-0. Early touchdowns from juniors Luke Majick, Tate Hallock, and Cam Deines, as well as senior Moise Guerrier, allowed for FHC to use a running clock the entire second half, and clinch home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

The Rangers caught an immediate break on the defensive side, as one of the first play for the Wildcats offense resulted in a fumble. Senior linebacker Andy Trapp recovered, giving FHC outstanding field position. Moise would find the end zone a minute later, giving the Rangers a 7-0 lead with 9:44 left in the first quarter.

Tate would then catch a ball down the near seam, and take it 48 yards to the house on the next Ranger possession, making it 14-0.

Sarah Obermeyer

Senior safety Nate Doolittle would come up with a big drive-stopping interception, allowing FHC to drive again. After nickeling and diming their way down the field, Luke would reach the ball over the plane on second and goal for the third Ranger touchdown of the first quarter.

Two second-quarter touchdowns would come from Cam, giving FHC a huge lead at 35-0 going into the half. This would be the end of the Rangers scoring, but not the end of their offensive success.

Sarah Obermeyer

A major part of the second half success was junior running back Noah Stout, who came into the game midway through the second quarter. FHC took a ground and pound attack and gave Noah the opportunity to get out wide and run in between the tackles.

“They were a tough team, and especially on their senior night you know they’ll play even tougher,” Noah said. “I had a lot of help from the o-line and got coached up by some of our senior running backs. It was important to get some carries towards the end of the game and keep running the clock.”

Sarah Obermeyer

Besides Noah, numerous players on both the offensive and defensive end stepped up, partially due to injuries from the previous week at Cedar Springs, but also in part to playing a struggling Wildcat team. Senior Elijah Gurley harped on the next man up mentality this team has used all season.

“Coach always says next man up,” Elijah said. “Bryce had a little ankle [injury] and we did not want to have to worry about that, and it was Doolittle’s time to step up tonight. A lot of those guys are seniors or inexperienced juniors, and they just worked really hard for us tonight.

Again on the defensive side, senior cornerback Jerqueres Beck came up huge with an interception late in the fourth quarter and kept the Wildcats scoreless. In man coverage on the far sideline, Jerqueres stepped in front of Wayland’s end zone throw and came down with the pick.

Sarah Obermeyer

FHC not only has won the OK white outright but has now clinched home-field advantage throughout the duration of the state playoffs. Last season, three of the four semifinalists in division two had home-field advantage through the regional.

“We sat down as a program and look at examples like last year,” head coach Tim Rogers said. “With three of the four teams having the home field, it’s really important we get to play on our home field and in front of our home fans. You play a little bit of a higher level when you’re at home too.”

It is unsure who FHC will face in the first round, but regardless of the draw, it’s the same game they’ve they’ve been fighting all season.

“It’s about fundamentals,” Rogers said. “We talk to our guys all the time about executing their one-eleventh, so we’re not going to do anything differently than we’ve been doing all year.”

Sarah Obermeyer

Regardless of the draw, this team has been battle tested throughout the season on numerous occasions and has proved they are ready for a multitude of things that could be thrown in their direction. For the moment, however, the Rangers can continue to ride cloud nine.

“This felt great,” Elijah said. “This whole season it seems like we’ve been riding a cloud, and it seems like all of our hard work has paid off since freshmen year. These juniors have been working really hard for us, and as seniors, we feel like if we continue to execute we have great things ahead of us.”