COLDWATER — It may have taken three cracks after back-to-back-to-back trips to the postseason – but the Coldwater Cardinals had finally gotten their playoff victory.
And it came at home.
Behind a rushing game that combined for 339 yards on 41 attempts, the Cardinals advanced in the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 district with a 31-7 opening round victory over Parma Western on Friday.
It was Coldwater’s first playoff win ever, and Cardinals’ head coach Jeff Schorfhaar – in a huddle to his team after the game – was praising his team, acknowledging the leap the Cardinals had finally made.
“This might have been the biggest win in our program’s history,” he said. “We played well, and we are fortunate to come out with the victory. We got to get better, though. We still are making a few mistakes. You know, not horrible, but we need to continue to get better. The competition is going to be better from here on out – no question about it.”
Looking ahead, Coldwater (10-0) will play the winner of the Marshall/Vicksburg game on Saturday afternoon. After the loss, Parma Western finished its season at 6-4.
Before Friday night’s game, Coldwater had beaten Parma Western, 34-0, earlier in the season.
Early on, both teams went for it on fourth-down on their opening drives. However, only one team converted, and it was the Cardinals.
On a fourth-and-8 try from 16 yards out, Coldwater quarterback Luke Beckhusen’s play-action fake made the Parma Western safety bite, freeing open tight end Jacob Beckhusen for the touchdown grab. With 3:55 left in the first quarter, the Cardinals now led 7-0.
The Panthers couldn’t convert on two fourth-down tries in the first half. Coldwater’s defense sniffed out the two attempts by the Panthers on back-to-back drives, despite the ability of Parma Western offense to pick up five first downs.
With 6.8 seconds left in the half, Coldwater kicker Sean Delaney converted on a 30-yard field goal from the right hash to give the Cardinals a 10-0 lead.
“This is huge,” Luke Beckhusen said. “You know, the past few years we came into the playoffs and it was really hard at the end of the season. We told the guys we didn’t want that to happen again… We got that job done. We don’t know who our next opponent is, but we will get better this week. We have goals that we have set, and we want to accomplish those.”
Coldwater’s first drive in the second half went the distance in only four plays, as running back Spencer Burns capped off the two-minute drive with a six-yard plunge up the “A” gap. Coldwater now led early in the third quarter by three scores, 17-0.
But the Panthers would respond on their next possession, as Parma Western quarterback Steele Fortress rolled to his right on a fourth down and 17 and hit a streaking Jacob Lefevre in the back of the end zone for the 26-yard touchdown. The lead was cut to 10, 17-7, with five minutes left to play in the third quarter.
However, the Cardinals – behind a relentless running attack – surged up the field and scored three-and-a-half-minutes later. This time it was Sam DeMeester taking the hand-off give 21 yards up the middle, bouncing off arm tackles, before finding the end zone for the score. It was Coldwater 24, Parma Western 0 after three complete.
First drive, second play in the fourth quarter, Luke Beckhusen’s read-option keep went 29 yards and another Cardinal score. With 10:31 left in the game, Coldwater led by 24, 31-7. This was all the scoring the team needed.
Statistically for Coldwater, Burns had 92 yards on 12 carries and a score, while Luke Beckhusen had 88 yards on nine carries and two scores. Defensively, Joey Severn led the team with six tackles.