District dominance

Eskymos rout Alma 42-14

Avery Bundgaard | Daily Press Escanaba’s Cody Vandermissen (44) celebrates with teammates Logan Carroll (30) and Ryan Robinette after scoring the game’s first touchdown during the Division 4 district final against Alma Friday at Escanaba.

ESCANABA — Leading 21-14 at halftime, Escanaba coach Dave Howes tossed aside the trick-filled part of his playbook.

Instead, the Eskymos went to a fullhouse backfield, strapped up the helmets and put on a clinic in power football at chilly Escanaba Athletic Field. When the cold dust settled, the Eskymos routed Alma 42-14 for their second straight Division 4 district title.

Escanaba (9-2) will host the regional championship game Friday at 7 p.m. against Williamston, which defeated Pontiac Notre Dame Prep 47-21 for its district crown.

“We saw some things, their ends were playing way too wide for us so we went inside of them and kicked them out,” Howes said about his team’s approach that led to a 21-0 advantage in the second half. “We kept it very simple in the second half with power football. Here we come and we had Cody (Vandermissen) and Scout (Wunder) and Logan Carroll and Hayden Haslow and our linemen doing a great job. We didn’t need to pass the ball at all.”

Esky’s offensive line — a big question mark entering the season — came through again as the Eskymos piled up 277 rushing yards from scrimmage. Center Brandon Kangas, guards Johnathan Schlenvogt and Noah Tourangeau, tackles Robert Froelich and Nathan Fuson and tight end Justin VanDrese opened up plenty of running room for Esky’s backs.

Avery Bundgaard | Daily Press Escanaba’s Logan Carroll (30) tries to find room to run as Alma’s Chase Albaugh (9) gives pursues Friday night during the Division 4 district final at Escanaba.

Carroll supplied 66 yards in 13 carries for the Eskymos.

Schlenvogt, the ringleader up front, said winning a second straight district title on home turf in dominating fashion is just part of the plan.

“We have been saying our whole lives we have a special class here,” Schlenvogt said about the seniors. “We said since our freshman year our class is going down in the record books and we’re making history. We are taking it to the playoffs and we’re making a run.”

Alma (8-3) played well in the first half, especially running back Brec Alward, who rushed for 127 of his 186 yards in the first two quarters. The Panthers stretched Esky’s defense, but the Eskymos came up with an interception, two fumble recoveries and a fourth-and-one stop on Alward at the 7-yard line with 1:46 left before halftime to preserve the 21-14 halftime lead.

“We made some adjustments at halftime in the second half,” Howes said. ” (Alward) is a really good player. But we made adjustments in the second half.

Avery Bundgaard | Daily Press Escanaba’s defensive line (right) lines up against Alma’s offensive line before a snap during the first half of the Division 4 district final Friday at Escanaba.

“We had one little turnover, but for the most part, it was a dominant performance by the Eskymos. And we have another home game next week.”

Esky played smash-mouth football in the second half and delivered the knockout punch.

“They came out in a fullhouse and just ran over the top of us,” Alma coach Dan Falor said. “It’s been our weakness all year. And Escanaba is pretty good at it.”

Escanaba took the second-half kickoff and covered 52 yards in seven plays, capped by Wunder’s 9-yard TD run extending the lead to 28-14. Wunder finished with 51 yards on nine carries.

Wunder’s interception set up Esky’s next score, a 9-yard TD run by fullback Vandermissen en route to a 35-14 advantage early in the fourth quarter. Vandermissen carried seven times for 73 yards and two scores.

Esky added a final score when quarterback Craig Kamin, who passed for 64 yards, raced around right end for a 13-yard TD run for the final 42-14 count. The score was set up by Hayden Haslow’s fumble recovery off a squib kick.

Schlenvogt said Esky’s line was ready to take over in the second half.

“In the second half, usually a lot of teams, their big guys break down and get tired,” he said. “We are well-conditioned and like to keep it going. We like to call ourselves a second-half team. We keep it and pound it all four quarters and that’s why we play the way we do.”

Alma finished with 216 rushing yards and quarterback Drew Humm completed 12-of-16 passes for 153 yards.

Colton Schworer also recovered a fumble for the Panthers.

Escanaba scored on three of its four possessions in the first half.

Gavin Schwalbach’s fumble recovery on Alma’s first possession set up Esky’s first score, a 15-yard run by Cody Vandermissen.

Alma answered on a 3-yard TD run by Alward that tied the game at 7-7 halfway through the opening quarter.

On Esky’s second possession, Kamin plowed 1-yard for a touchdown and a 14-7 advantage late in the first quarter.

Alma came right back with a long scoring drive covering 73 yards, capped by Brandon Huff’s 14-yard TD run and a 14-14 tie early in the second quarter.

Kamin and Wunder then hooked up on the play of the game. Wunder went in motion and Kamin lofted a short pass to Wunder going down the left sideline. Wunder juked a defender and made a nifty run down the sideline to complete the 58-yard score and 21-14 lead.

Christer Carne also made all six PAT kicks for the Eskymos.

The game got a little heated at the end as Alma picked up a few unsportsmanlike penalties and one player was ejected.

“It’s not what we’re about,” Falor said. “It’s just seniors who are frustrated. It doesn’t excuse it. We wish Escanaba the best of luck.”

Esky will turn its attention to Williamston, which plays football in the Lansing area.

“This is the first time, this has ever happened and we want a big showing because we are coming to play,” Schlenvogt said.

The summary:

Alma 7 7 0 0 — 14

Escanaba 14 7 7 14 — 42

First quarter

E – Vandermissen 15 run, Carne PAT kick, 7-0, 7:56

A – Alward 3 run, VanBlaricum PAT kick, 6:16

E – Kamin 1 run, Carne PAT kick, 1:59

Second quarter

A – Huff 14 run, VanBlaricum, PAT kick, 9:40

E – Kamin 58 pass to Wunder, Carne PAT kick, 7:57

Third quarter

E – Wunder 9 run, Carne PAT kick, 7:47

Fourth quarter

E – Vandermissen 9 run, Carne PAT kick, 7:47

E – Kamin 13 run, Carne PAT kick, 9:07