The Coldwater football program is doing things never done before at the school.
Last Friday, Coldwater beat Jackson Lumen Christi for the first time in school history.
The Cardinals are undefeated on the season, surging toward what would be the first 9-0 regular season in school history.
Coldwater has already clinched a postseason berth, making it the first time the school will go to the playoffs three years in a row.
And with a playoff spot already in their back pocket, the Cardinals are in search of another rare accomplishment at the school – a league title. Coldwater has not won its conference since 1986.
“We are a team of firsts,” said Coldwater senior Luke Beckhusen. “First win over Lumen, we are going for our first league title in a long time, we want the school’s first 9-0 season… we think it’s all possible. It would be huge to finish off the season in the right way and get those done.”
Standing in Coldwater’s way is a Harper Creek team that has already been part of the Cardinals’ list of firsts. Harper Creek will host Coldwater on Friday. When the two teams met last year, it was Coldwater’s first win over Harper Creek in 20 years.
But things are much different than they have been in the last 20, or even 30 years, for the Coldwater football program.
Coldwater heads into play on Friday ranked No. 8 in Division 3 in the state, sitting at 6-0 and with a strangle hold on first place in the Interstate 8 Conference.
“We always knew we had the potential to have this kind of season. We knew we had to put the work in first. We came close last season and we wanted more this year, so we put the work in to get it done and we have so far,” said Coldwater junior Sam DeMeester.
Beckhusen and DeMeester are part of a talented senior group that have been a big part of this Coldwater renaissance. In 2013, Coldwater made the playoffs for the first time in school history and last year the Cardinals had their best regular-season record in school history at 8-1. It was natural to take the next step in 2015 as the team continues to make history.
“Because of what we have done recently, we have higher expectations here at Coldwater now and the kids are putting in the work and living up to those expectations,” said Coldwater head coach Jeff Schorfhaar. “They are putting in that hard work and fortunately they are seeing the results from that.
“But there are other teams that want to keep us from reaching our goals, so we have to keep playing hard and working hard each week to reach those goals.”
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Schorfhaar was the quarterback on the last Coldwater team to win a league title in 1986. Until recent seasons, the Cardinals football program was enduring a very long cold streak. Coldwater hadn’t had a winning season since 1989 until going 5-4 in 2013 – actually going 1-8 in back-to-back seasons the two years before that.
“This has been huge to get Coldwater to this level. And it’s important to me that we have. I went to this school, I have been part of the program as a coach at different levels over a number of years before becoming head coach, so it’s been very fulfilling to get the program back to being respectable,” Schorfhaar said. “People see that Coldwater is going to be a good football team again and they are going to play hard. That was our charge to get it to that level again and now we want to keep it at that level.”
As any head coach will say, Schorfhaar reminds anyone who will listen, and his players, that the Cardinals haven’t accomplished all their goals yet. Coldwater has the tough road game at Harper Creek this week, where it needs a win to clinch a share of the I-8 title, and will need a win vs. Charlotte in Week 8 to get the title outright. Then the Cardinals will face a 1-5 Adrian team in the final week of the season with an undefeated record on the line.
“People are excited about what we are doing. We beat Lumen, that was a big goal, we want to win the league, that’s a big goal, and we have never had an undefeated season ever,” Schorfhaar said. “We have taken little steps along the way. First we had to get a winning season, then try to get to the playoffs, now, we are trying to win the league.
“As some of that stuff is falling into place and everybody dreams about those things, it’s awesome to see some of that take shape. But it’s still a long, long ways away.”
Bill Broderick can be reached at [email protected] or 269-966-0678. Follow him on Twitter:@billbroderick