CASS CITY — In just two short weeks, first-year Cass City coach Ed Stoutenburg has endured a shootout and a slugfest.
The good news is his Red Hawks have showed they can win both kind of games.
After the offense put up major points in a Week 1 victory, the Cass City defense came to play here Thursday night against Brown City. The Red Hawks squelched the Green Devils at the end of each half, limiting them to 130 total yards in a hard-fought 7-6 Greater Thumb Conference crossover win.
“Wow, I am just very happy right now,” Stoutenburg said. “Do they come any tougher than that or what?
“It was a great effort from our defense. We rose up to what we needed to do. They dug in hard when we needed it.”
Brown City had its chances. The Green Devils drove inside Cass City territory on the game’s final possession, but a 15-yard unsportmanlike penalty and sketchy time management enabled the clock to run out. The Green Devils also saw a potential scoring drive stall at the 1-yard line at the end of the opening half.
“We need to work on the two-minute drill — it’s my fault,” said Brown City coach Scott Banks. “We just didn’t do a very good job at the end of each half.”
Cass City’s lone score came midway through the second quarter on an 8-yard run from Alex Varney. He also added the game-deciding PAT.
Nathan Primeau answered for Brown City late in the third quarter on a 1-yard dive. The Green Devils, though, were thwarted on their potential go-ahead 2-point try when Cass City’s Brandon Stine sacked quarterback Trenton Wood.
“We had the right play called, but we had some confusion and didn’t convert,” Banks said.
Cass City won despite four turnovers, including two fumbles, an interception and a botched punt.
“We definitely have a few things we have to work on — we have to get better,” Stoutenburg said. “We knew it was going to be a very tough game coming in here. Brown City is a very good team.”
Overall, Josh Jensen led the Red Hawks with 58 yards on 16 carries while Varney added 43 yards on 13 carries and had three receptions for 47 yards. Quarterback Justin Ketterer completed four passes for 50 yards.
The Red Hawks scored on an 80-yard, six-minute drive, converting a couple of critical third-and-short situations en route to the end zone.
Meanwhile, the Green Devils couldn’t take advantage of the Cass City turnovers. Brown City’s Jon Marks recovered a Red Hawk fumble at the Cass City 28-yard line with 2:15 to play in the half, but the Green Devils couldn’t score. They actually converted a fourth-and-nine inside the 15-yard line late, driving all the way to the 1 when time ran out.
They did the same thing at the end of the game, taking over at their own 40 with 4:10 left. The Green Devils drove to the Cass City 25 with less than two minutes to play on a completed pass near the sideline. The Brown City coaches actually thought their receiver went out of bounds to stop the clock. Instead, the clock kept running — and their questioning of that call led to an unsportsmanlike penalty.
“I didn’t say anything bad to the referee,” Banks said. “I am not quite sure what happened. All I asked was if he was out of bounds why was the clock still running.”
The penalty moved the ball all the way back to near midfield. With no timeouts, the game ended with Wood getting sacked as time expired.
“The kids played their hearts out,” Banks said. “We knew Cass City would be physical and this would be a hard-hitting contest. Both teams I thought were exhausted at the end.
“Cass City is a good football team and they are going to win some games this season.”
Primeau and Cody Anderson each had 48 yards rushing for the Green Devils.
Defensively for the Red Hawks, Mitch O’Dell had nine tackles while Nick Adkins and Corey Haney added seven stops each. Jensen and Alex Zaleski added six tackles.
For Brown City, Primeau had 13 tackles and an interception while Anderson and Travis Yonkowski added eight stop apiece.
Cass City will look to make it three straight victories when it opens GTW play next Friday at home against winless Bad Axe.
“We’re excited about the start,” Stoutenburg said. “But we just take it one week at a time.”
Brown City hosts 1-1 North Huron next week.
“I think we’re going to be pretty upset next week,” Banks said. “We will learn from this one, regroup and get ready for North Huron.”
WHAT I THINK
This week, Cass City showed it can win with its defense, limiting a very good Brown City team to 130 total yards. The Green Devils, though, didn’t do themselves any favors. Sketchy time management killed a potential scoring drive at the end of the first half. And then a questionable unsportsmanlike penalty hurt them at the end of the game.
Both of these teams have the potential to make the playoffs.