Varsity football preview: West Ottawa Panthers

Matthew Mahoney

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After defeating the Jenison Wildcats 14-7 in the infamous season opener that stretched over two days, the varsity football team shifts its attention to another difficult team from the west side of Grand Rapids: the West Ottawa Panthers. 

En route to a 6-4 record last year, the Panthers defeated the Rangers in week two in a game that took two overtimes to decide. After scoring a touchdown that would’ve tied the game up with an extra point, the coaching staff decided to fake the extra point, and the attempt failed. This gave West Ottawa a 42-41 victory, which provided some momentum ahead of the Panther’s game against Rockford. The Panthers have had a recent history of playing close games with the Rangers, as the game in 2017 came down to the wire as well. A last-second deep ball gave FHC a 30-27 victory, but the Panthers had the last laugh.

West Ottawa played a completely different style game in week one compared to the Rangers. The Panthers fell short to Stevensville Lakeshore 42-29, and the game saw many big plays and constant offensive pressure, while the defenses took a backseat. West Ottawa running back Zeke Rohl ran for two 20+ yard touchdowns, one of which went for 44 yards. The FHC front seven will look to shut him down at the line of scrimmage before he cuts through where big plays can happen.

In order to avenge last year’s loss, the FHC defense will need to pick up from where they left off against Jenison. Members of the Ranger front seven in seniors Brandon Weiskopf and Wyatt Engler will need to be huge in the pass rush as West Ottawa loves to pass the ball, and juniors Joey Wise and Jonah Spates will need to be lockdown in pass coverage. Panther receiver Blake Bosma is a huge threat in the air, and the Rangers will need to shut him down if they plan on having a defensive performance like last week.

Although, against a powerful offense like West Ottawa’s, there are bound to be mistakes and missed plays. The Ranger offense will need to come out with an improved passing game, highlighted by play from quarterbacks senior Jimmy Scholler and junior Carson Mocherman, as well as senior wide receivers Jackson Clay and Hayden Sarjeant.

The contest against the Panthers will take place at the usual time of 7:00 PM, with Friday’s game being the Rangers’ first away trip of the season. A win against West Ottawa would be huge, not only for the team’s playoff aspirations, but also for the team’s confidence ahead of a very difficult matchup with Grandville.