By Jason Wesseldyk
OTSEGO—Weather conditions were, to say the least, less than ideal for the annual gridiron grudge match between Otsego and Plainwell on Friday, Oct. 6.
But not even the wet, windy, chilly conditions could put a damper on the Bulldogs’ excitement.
Otsego used a 35-7 second-half surge to erase a one-point halftime deficit and secure the 48-21 victory.
The win was the first for Otsego (2-5) over the Trojans (1-6) since 2011 when the Bulldogs prevailed by a 37-12 final score.
This year’s rivalry game also featured a battle of first-year head coaches, with Scott McDougall at Otsego and Brian Huberty at Plainwell.
“It’s always fun to take part in rivalry games, especially ones with as much history as this one,” McDougall said. “This rivalry checks all the boxes for the ingredients needed for it to be special.”
“As someone who has grown up in this community and played in this rivalry, I understand its importance to both schools,” said Huberty, who has previous experience as an assistant coach with Plainwell. “It is always a blessing to be able to take part in this game because it is so important.
“It has been 12 years since Otsego got the better of us, so we will most certainly will be looking forward to the offseason to address our shortcomings.”
The first two quarters featured the teams exchanging touchdowns.
Otsego got on the scoreboard first on a 52-yard run by Kole Engleright only for Plainwell to answer with a 60-yard scoring run by Landon DeVaney.
In the second quarter, Nolan VanderRoest scored on a 16-yard run for Otsego before the Trojans got a 21-yard TD pass from Ryan McDaniel to Michael Gonyeau.
Plainwell took a 14-13 lead to halftime as the Trojans made both of their extra-point kicks, while the Bulldogs went 1-for-2 in that area.
Then came the second half. And it was all Otsego.
The Bulldogs scored on a pair of long scoring runs by Engleright (44 and 71 yards) sandwiched around a 27-yard interception return by Blake Marks to go up 34-14.
McDaniel threw his second TD pass—this one covering 50 yards to Marco Vega—late in the third quarter, but that’s as close as the Trojans would get.
“Hats off to Coach McDougall and his staff for the adjustments they were able to make at halftime,” Huberty said. “To me, that was a huge part of the outcome.
“We also had some crucial injuries that hurt us, especially knowing we are not a very deep team.”
Otsego closed the scoring with fourth-quarter runs of 10 yards by VanderRoest and 33 yards by Alex Raseman.
“A lot of preparation went into this game and reflects our development over the season as we continue to work towards becoming the best football team that we can be,” McDougall said.
Engleright finished with an eye-popping 209 rushing yards on nine carries. Raseman—who went 6-of-7 on PATs—added 46 yards on seven carries.
Jack Holmes went 11-of-16 passing for 192 yards for the Bulldogs.
In the loss, Huberty praised the effort he received from several of his players, including Gonyeau and McDaniel.
“Overall, I’m just proud of how our guys keep working hard even though we are not experiencing the results that we would like,” Huberty said.