CASS CITY — There have been easier, less stressful coaching debuts.
But not many have been more rewarding.
Cass City gave first-year varsity coach Ed Stoutenburg an introduction to remember last Friday, scoring three fourth-quarter touchdowns en route to a come-from-behind 34-21 Greater Thumb Conference crossover victory over Sandusky.
Now, the 1-0 Red Hawks are hoping to give Stoutenburg an encore presentation Thursday whey they host 1-0 Brown City in another GTC crossover contest.
“We have two (2009) playoff teams right off the bat, but after getting that one last week the kids are excited,” Stoutenburg said. “It was a big win against a very tough team. We really have some good senior leadership. Most of them are very focused and they really push each other in practice.”
The Redskins certainly pushed the Red Hawks in last week’s season opener. Sandusky held a 21-14 edge heading into the fourth quarter before the Cass City offense turned it on, scoring 20 unanswered points in the final 6:18.
Quarterback Justin Ketterer hit Josh Jensen on a 38-yard scoring strike midway through the quarter for the first score. The PAT, though, was blocked, keeping the Redskins ahead by a point.
Less than two minutes later, Brandon Stine put the Red Hawks in the lead with a 6-yard scoring run. Stine also added the 2-pointer, good for a 28-21 advantage.
Austin Osentoski put the finishing touches on the comeback, rumbling in from 15 yards with 2:02 to play to make for the winning margin.
“Sandusky turned the ball over in the fourth quarter and we were able to take advantage,” Stoutenburg said. “Once we got the jitters out in the first half, we settled down and were OK.”
Offensively, four running back had at least seven carries, led by Alex Varney’s 12 totes for 93 yards and one score. Osentoski added seven carries for 60 yards while Jensen had nine carries for 58 yards, and Stine eight totes for 43 yards.
“We actually have six running backs we can interchange,” Stoutenburg said. “We can rotate each one and keep everyone fresh. That’s a big thing for us.”
Ketterer was 10-of-21 for 140 yards.
“We have a good quarterback with a good arm,” Stoutenburg said. “We’re going to try to be as balanced as we can be on offense.”
This week, the Red Hawks will be trying to stop the Green Devils, who come in after a 49-12 win over Peck in their season opener.
Brown City lived off big plays last week against the Pirates, with six of their seven scores coming from 14 yards or more.
Tailback Nathan Primeau rushed for 169 yards on 10 carries, including scoring runs of 46 and 77 yards.
“Brown City is a tough football team,” Stoutenburg said. “It’s going to be another challenge for us.”
Now that the season has started, Stoutenburg, who has been with the program for many years as junior varsity coach, is enjoying being on the sideline.
“I like the football aspect,” he said. “That part is not a lot different (from junior varsity).
“We have a good group of kids. I have had a lot of them for three years. The kids have bought into our philosophy. We’re going to try and build on every week and not look past anyone. The most important game of the year is the next one.
“I heard a player talking the other day about a game later in the season. I told him, ‘That one isn’t going to mean anything if we don’t get this one.’ That’s how we’re taking it.”