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  • James Townsend

Raider Football tops Lansing Catholic 21-7

Portland high school hosted long-time CAAC White rival Lansing Catholic on Friday night for Portland’s 2020 homecoming game.

The Raiders entered the game 1-1 coming off a decisive 33-0 shutout over Charlotte last week.

The Cougars of Lansing Catholic came into the game 2-0 after blowout wins over Eaton Rapids and Ionia.

The first quarter of play ended with both teams scoreless.

In the second quarter of play, an interception by Portland senior Trevor Williams helped swing momentum in favor of the Raiders. Junior Reis Phillips would get the Raiders on the scoreboard first when he ran it into the endzone for a four-yard touchdown. Senior kicker Cameron Roof connected on the point after and the Raiders took a 7-0 lead.

The Raiders would strike again with only 21 seconds left in the second quarter when junior QB Haden Getchell would score on a three-yard sneak. Roof connected on the point after putting the Raiders up 14-0.

The Raiders would reach the endzone one more time with 4:59 remaining in the third quarter when Phillips punched it in again from four-yards out. Roof’s point after put the score at 21-0.

Lansing Catholic would score their only touchdown of the game late in the third on a 75-yard punt return by junior Alex Watters. Cougar junior kicker Jonah Richards would connect on the point after making the score 21-7.

The Cougar offense would threaten again in the fourth quarter, but the Raider defense would come up with a huge stop. The Raiders were able to finish out regulation deep in Cougar territory when they lined up in victory formation for the final two plays of the game.

Rushing statistics for Portland:

Reis Phillips 19 carries for 104 yards and 2 TD's

Haden Getchell 18 carries for 72 yards and 1 TD

Trent Trieweiler 9 carries for 41 yards

Caden Galey 14 carries for 95 yards

Jace Gillette 1 carry for 0 yards

Drew Miller 1 carry for 5 yards

The Raider defense held the Cougars to 149 yards of total offense.

Defensive statistics for Portland:

Haden Getchell 5 tackles

Cameron Roof 5 tackles

Reese Townsend 5 tackles

Trevor Williams 1 interception

When asked about his team’s strong defensive performance against the Cougars, Portland Head Coach John Novara said, “They are a high-powered offense. Our defense played great tonight but they are a high-powered offense. We wanted to control the ball by running it. We are a young team, and we are growing up. I thought we played physical tonight and controlled the ball, and played great defense.”

As for his team’s growth so far this season, Novara said, “I thought we were 10 times more physical than we were in the last two games. I think playing DeWitt in week 1 was a good thing for us. You have to grow up. You have to play more physical. You have to play fast. We took a tough loss to them but I think our kids are getting better each week.”

When asked about Portland keeping Lansing Catholic’s talented junior Alex Watters in check, Novara said, “He is a heck of a football player. He scares you every time he touches the ball. I thought our kids tackled better tonight and we had a lot of people around the ball. When we did miss him, there were three or four guys around him to get him to the ground. It was great team defense just running around and hustling. We kind of simplified things and let our kids play fast.”

Novara added, “We have two tough games left in our league and we have to be focused on this next game. We have to come back Monday and get back to work and just get after it. We just need to get after it because we have a tough league and we have to be ready to play each week.”

As for the Raiders putting themselves in an excellent position to continue a multi-year streak of CAAC White championships after defeating the Cougars, Novara said, “It has been great.” Referring to a row of footballs painted on the front of the press box at the PHS stadium indicating years of conference championships won, Novara said, “You know we have all those footballs up there and the kids look forward to trying to put one up there, and I think they don’t want to let the team down from the year before. We put the league championship as our first goal and we have two tough games left so we are not there yet. It was a big win for us and it gives us an advantage.”

When Novara was asked about the dominant running performance of junior Reis Phillips, he said, “He is just a big physical kid. I was telling people he was in the weight room. When we got kicked out if the weight room, he has a home gym, and he actually gained strength in the offseason when we were not allowed in the gym. He just kept working out hard. You could see it when he was running tonight, he is a big strong kid and he did a great job for us tonight and ran with some passion.”

Novara was also complimentary of his full running back corps. He said, “We didn’t expect to start the two juniors at slot this year but we had some kids that were out and were quarantined for two weeks, so we ended up starting our two juniors in front of our two seniors. They have been doing a great job and are getting better each week. We have some good running backs just chomping to get on the field. As long as they keep running hard, I think competition is good sometimes.”

Portland’s secondary had a great night stopping Lansing Catholic’s high-powered passing game. Novara said, “DeWitt has got some great receivers just like Lansing Catholic and they throw the ball so well. We didn’t get any 7 on 7’s this summer so our defensive backs had to grow up on the fly against a veteran team, and another great passing team tonight. I think they are getting more comfortable back there and they are in the right places and they are getting people on the ground.”

The Raider offensive line had a fantastic night against a much larger defensive front for the Cougars. The Portland line, led by seniors Nate Zimmerman, Josh Rutkowski and Reese Townsend, was critical in the success of the Raiders ground game.

After the game, senior guard Zimmerman said, “We really just wanted to set the tone right away and blow them off the ball. We wanted to make sure we got the run game going because that is a big part of our offense.”

As for handling the larger Cougar defensive linemen, senior center Rutkowski said, “Really all we were doing was trying to stay lower than them. We all knew that they stood up and tried to fight with their hands and get into the backfield that way and we just needed to be lower than them and push them off the ball because we saw that in their past games they really were not fighting against these kids that were not any better than us.”

When asked about preparing for their final two league games, senior guard Townsend said, “We just have to keep doing the same thing we have been doing. Keep on being aggressive.” Rutkowski added, “We have to stay focused. This was our best week of practice. We have to keep doing that every single week.”

Lansing Catholic moves to 2-1 overall and will host Charlotte (1-2) next.

Portland improves to 2-1 overall and travels to Eaton Rapids (1-2) next. The Greyhounds are 1-2. They lost to Lansing Catholic 43-0 in week one, lost to Mason 34-3 in week two, and defeated Ionia 27-21 in week three.

Editors Note: Sarah Townsend and Kayla Weller assisted with this piece.


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