ESCANABA - The Traverse City Central Trojans didn't just spoil Escanaba's home opener Thursday night, they made a statement that won't soon be forgotten.
In outright dominating fashion, the Trojans controlled the line of scrimmage from start to finish and trounced the Eskymos 50-6.
"We were very ornery all week in a positive way," said Traverse City head coach Tom Passinault. "We had a tough loss last week to Grand Haven and the kids came out mean and nasty. We had the win in the first quarter."
Keith Shelton | Daily Press
Traverse City running back TJ Schwannecke jukes around Escanaba defenders before running to the endzone in the first quarter Thursday evening at Escanaba. For more photos see cu.dailypress.net.
To be more specific, the Trojans technically had the win with 9:38 remaining in the first quarter as they took a 7-0 lead on Joe Schepperly's 5-yard run.
Traverse City certainly displayed prowess running the ball, as they outgained the Eskymos (1-1) on the ground 365 yards to 110. They scored on their first three possessions and led 21-0 after the first quarter. Meanwhile the Eskymos were getting beat on nearly every play at the line as offensive playmakers such as Dave Falish, Jake Walker and Cameron Beversluis had little room to work with. The Trojans were able to hold the Eskymos on their side of the 50 until just seconds remained in the first half when, by virtue of a roughing the kicker penalty, the Eskymos reached Trojan territory.
By then, Traverse City had a 28-0 lead and the game well in hand.
Standing out for the Trojans (1-1) was sophomore running back and touchdown machine Joe Schepperly. He racked up 150 yards on 10 carries and crossed the plane of the endzone five times.
"We were rolling on the ground. When you can run the ball like that, it really dispirits the opponent," said Passinault.
If the display on the scoreboard wasn't enough, with a couple minutes remaining in the first half, Falish took a hard hit, went down and didn't get up as the crowd went silent.
Escanaba 0 0 0 6 - 6
TC-Central 21 7 15 7 - 50
TC - J. Schepperly, 5-yard run, Gorter kick, 9:38
TC - Schwannecke, 20-yard run, Gorter kick, 6:04
TC - J. Schepperly, 11-yard run, Gorter kick, 1:33
TC -J. Schepperly 2-yard run, Gorter kick, 3:29
TC - J. Schepperly, 55-yard run, 2pt conversion run, 8:25
TC - J. Schepperly, 2-yard run, Gorter kick, 1:54
E - Heller, 16-yard run, kick failed, 6:19
TC - Prather, 53-yard run, Gorter kick, 1:48
Total Yardage - Traverse City, 393 (365 rushing, 28 passing) Escanaba, 142 (110 rushing, 39 passing)
Escanaba - Dave Falish (4-5, 17 yards); Travis Heller (2-5, 22 yards, 1 INT)
Traverse City - TJ Schepperly (3-4, 28 yards); Sean Williams (0-1)
Escanaba - Dave Falish (8 att., 40 yards); Cameron Beversluis (5 att., 15 yards); Jake Walker (8 att., 12 yards); Travis Heller (9 att., 36 yards, 1 TD)
Traverse City - TJ Schwannecke (5 att., 67 yards, 1 TD); Sean Williams (1 att., 8 yards); Nate Pupel (4 att., 17 yards); Joe Schepperly (10 att.,150 yards, 5 TDs); Ethan Campbell (2 att., 13 yards); TJ Schepperly (5 att., 38 yards); Eston Prather (3 att., 72 yards, 1 TD)
Escanaba - Cameron Beversluis (1 catch, 3 yards); Travis Heller (1 catch, 1 yard); Ben Kleiman (4 catches, 35 yards)
Traverse City - Billy Vermetten (1 catch, 18 yards); Drew Reamer (1 catch, 10 yards); TJ Schwannecke (1 catch, 0 yards)
Falish was later carted off the field, holding an ice pack over his face. It turns out the injury isn't serious.
"Falish got a hand to the eye," said Escanaba head coach Jim Hansen. "His eye swelled up shut a little bit, but he should be alright."
Travis Heller came in to replace Falish and did an admirable job while displaying a powerful, if unrefined arm. He was 2-5 passing and scored the Eskymos only touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 16-yard run.
"I thought Travis did a nice job coming in and trying to command the offense and lead," said Hansen. "He did the best job that he could."
Escanaba had poor field position for nearly the entire game, thanks to another one of the Trojans' weapons, kicker Jake Gorter, who nailed the Eskymos with four touchbacks and booted the kickoff into the endzone nearly every time.
"Jake's a great kicker, a college (level) kicker," said Passinault.
Falish compiled 40 yards on the ground on 8 carries before his injury. He was 4-5 passing for 17 yards.
The Trojans put an exclamation point on their big game on their final drive, when Eston Prather, who wears number 79, rumbled for 72 yards on three carries and a touchdown.
"I thought they controlled every aspect of the game. It's that simple," said Hansen. "I give a lot of credit to Traverse City. Obviously we have a lot of work to do. We're not going to make any excuses. I Myself, as a coach, have to do a better job."
Escanaba's season resumes Sept. 8 when they host Cedar Grove-Belgium, Wis. at 1 p.m.