"Everyone goes through adversity in life, but what matters is how you learn from it."
On a gloomy drizzly night in Ionia, Portland would have to fight through adversity to claim its 4th straight CAAC White title. Football is a game that you can’t play if you don’t have heart. Sometimes in the game, and in life, you need to have a mirror moment and figure out who you are and what you’re made of. Friday night Portland had to dig down deep and grind out a win to become who they wanted to be and that’s League Champions.
The 1st quarter would start with both teams working on feeling out the defenses with little success until the Bulldogs scored on a 64-yard touchdown pass. The Bulldogs would convert the extra point attempt. With 5:00 left in the 1st quarter Ionia 7 Portland 0.
In the 2nd quarter the Raiders would get the ball but were unable to mount a drive. Sr. P Blake Patrick was able to move the Bulldogs back with a 41-yard punt. On this possession the Raider defense stepped up when Sr. DT Bobby Brandsen came free and forced a fumble on his hit which was recovered by Sr. NT Dylan Arthur. The Raiders took over on the Bulldog 40-yard line. After 2 Bulldog penalties, the Raiders would be set up for their first score of the game when Sr. SB Jake Veale sprinted in from 20 yards out. Sr. K Tate Dziewiatowski converted the extra point. With 8:42 left in the 2nd Quarter. the Raider attack would not be done when Jr. FB Blake Meyers busted off a 49-yard TD run with 6:15 left in the half. The e tea point attempt was no good putting the Raiders up 13-7. The Raiders would put together a late drive when Jr. QB Owen Russell found Sr. WR Blake Patrick on 2nd and 9 with a 29-yard completion setting the Raiders up on the Bulldog 37-yard line with 1:07 left in the half. However, the drive and half would end when the Raiders went for it on 4th down but did not convert. Half Time Portland 13 Ionia 7.
In the 3rd Quarter, both Defenses would keep the Offenses off the board.
In the 4th Quarter the Bulldogs drove down to the Raider 2-yard line but on 4th and goal Ionia was flagged for Illegal procedure moving the Bulldogs to the Raider 7-yard line. Sr. CB Hunter Hohman broke up a pass to the end zone turning the ball back over to the Raiders on their own 7. However, the Raiders lost a 3rd down fumble setting the Bulldogs up on the Raider 13-yard line. Once again, the Raider Defense would come up with another big 4th down play to force another turn over on downs. After getting the ball back the Bulldogs mounted a late drive that was marred with Raider penalties. With 2:08 left in the game, the Bulldogs scored on a 4-yard run. With the extra point Ionia went on top 14-13. The Raider Offense wasted little time when Veale busted a run off the right side taking the ball down to the Bulldog 33-yard line with 1:30 left in the game. After a time out, Russell found Jr. WR David Svanda for a 17-yard completion setting the Raider Offense up on the Bulldog 17-yard line with 1:20 left in the game. On a crucial 3rd and 2 from the Bulldog 10-yard line, Russell ran for the 1st down with :29 seconds left taking the ball down to the Bulldog 5. On 1st down and goal Russell rolled out left and tried to run for the score but the Bulldog defense denied him for no gain. The Raiders were trailing 14-13 with no time outs. The Raider Offense ran back up to the line on 2nd down so Russell could spike the ball to stop the clock. On 3rd and goal from the 5, Coach John Novara sent on Dziewiatowski for a field goal attempt to win the game. Dziewiatowski had been quietly warming up on the sidelines during the drive. The Bulldogs called time out to try and freeze Dziewiatowski. The Raider faithful was holding their breath. The Raider players were shouting encouragement from the sidelines. The coaching staff stood confidently on the sidelines. The snap was good, the hold was good, and the kick was good. The 24-yard FG put Portland up 16-14 with 7.5 seconds left in the game. The Bulldogs had a couple plays to try and win the game but with 1.1 seconds left in the game Sr. S Cade Parmalee broke up a pass attempt to end the game while the Portland student section started the “Portland County” chant. Final Portland 16 Ionia 14.
After the game, Portland Head Coach John Novara said, "Ionia played a great football game and deserves a lot of credit, but we left way too many plays out on the field and need to play better. I am proud of our kids for hanging in there and finding a way at the end. I am also proud of them for winning the league championship again this season. It is hard to win varsity football games and I feel fortunate to come out of there with a victory."
Adversity can be a good thing. You can learn more from a close tough game than you can from a blowout. Good teams learn from these moments. When its gut check time, leaders step up and lead. Players dig deeper. Next up for the Raiders is a trip to face a 4-3 Pontiac Notre Dame Prep team. Game time is 7 p.m.
Portland 0 - 13 - 0 - 3 = 16
Ionia 7 - 0 - 0 - 7 = 14
Ionia 64 yard TD pass
Jacob Veale 20 yard TD run
Dziewiatowski PAT Good
Blake Meyers 49 yard TD run
Dziewiatowski PAT Good
Ionia 4 yard TD run
Dziewiatowski 24 yard field game winning field goal
Jacob Veale 15 for 45 1 TD
Blake Meyers 10 for 95 1 TD
Brody Smith 3 for 4
Owen Russell 3 for 11
Gavin McGregor 1 for 0
Blake Patrick 1 for 0
Owen Russell 5 for 7 78 yard
Grant Werner 9 Tackles
Griffin Summers 7 tackles
Matt Koster 7 tackles