The stakes were clear. And they couldn’t have been any higher for members of the Fennville football team.
A win over Bloomingdale in their regular-season finale would secure not only a share of the SAC North championship, but also a playoff berth for the Blackhawks.
It didn’t take Fennville long to prove it was up for the challenge.
On their first offensive play from scrimmage, the Blackhawks got a 30-yard scoring pass from senior quarterback Mitchell Leonard to classmate Cejhay Svay And with that the rout was on as Fennville led 34-0 at halftime on the way to a 42-0 victory.
The divisional title is only the second league crown for the Blackhawks in the past two decades. The last came in 2010, which is also the last time they appeared in the playoffs.
“This game is huge for us,” said Leonard, who completed 10 of his 12 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns. “For (Fennville) to only have won one championship in the past 20 years was unacceptable and we wanted to be the team to change that.
“It means a lot. To see that conference championship … We knew if we put in the hard work and had the heart to keep pushing forward it was doable and we did it.”
The celebratory scene after the game was a far cry from two weeks earlier when a 26-20 loss to rival Saugatuck left Fennville at 4-3 with perennial power Gobles looming in the week ahead. Several Blackhawk players were in tears, many of them inconsolable.
“You would have thought the sky was falling,” third-year coach Brian Sackett said with a smile.
But a stunning 22-12 upset win over state-ranked Gobles changed all that.
“It was tough after the loss to Saugatuck, with the whole rivalry and everything,” said Sackett, a 1998 Fennville graduate. “It was emotional. But that next Monday leading up to the Gobles game I could see things started to shift. The guys started believing in themselves again and they knew they could beat Gobles.”
For full story, pick up a copy of the October 30 issue of The Allegan County News or subscribe to the e-edition.