Varsity football preview: West Ottawa Panthers


Coming off of a tight 21-19 victory last week, the varsity football team will face a much tougher opponent in West Ottawa on Thursday. Last season, the Panthers were one of the few teams to challenge the Rangers, as a last-second hail mary ultimately gave FHC the 30-27 victory.  This was West Ottawa’s only regular-season loss in the 2018 season, as they had the most successful season in school history with 10 wins and an OK Red championship title. In the past four years, the two schools have gone 2-2 with FHC winning the last two matchups.

The Panthers come off of week one in a different boat than the Rangers, as they dominated in their first performance to beat Stevensville Lakeshore 35-10. The West Ottawa defense only allowed 174 yards from the opponent, while many players on offense had stand-out nights. They carry a few young but very talented players, including an explosive junior running back and lethal sophomore receiver. The Panthers also come into this game with a very good senior quarterback, who had 337 total yards and 3 touchdowns in last week’s game.

A big focus for the Ranger defense in this week’s practices has been tackling –  a major weak point in the Jenison game. Anything less than a stellar performance on the defensive side of the ball on Thursday will be quickly capitalized on by this explosive Panther offense.

On the other side of the ball, the Rangers will look to utilize their passing game more this week. With a big, senior-heavy offensive line up front with Joe Szczepanek, Kyle Wojczynski, and Justin Hoving, and talented receivers such as senior Tate Hallock and juniors Jackson Clay and Hayden Sarjent, a potent passing game could be the key to another successful season for the Rangers. With this tough matchup coming as the Rangers’ home opener, the home-crowd advantage may be enough for FHC to pull out a win against a seemingly even opponent.