Eskymos cap off dream season with state appearance

Prep football

Courtesy photo Anne Truitt Escanaba’s Hayden Haslow (9) fights for yardage against Grand Rapids Catholic Central defenders in Saturday’s Division 4 state semifinal game in Traverse City.

TRAVERSE CITY — It wasn’t the outcome they hoped for, but the Escanaba Eskymos concluded a fine football season Saturday with a 24-0 loss to defending state champ Grand Rapids Catholic Central in a Division 4 semifinal game.

For Esky, this marked its first semifinal appearance since 1981 when it captured the Class A state title.

“This was a great experience,” senior running back/defensive end Logan Carroll said shortly after the Eskymos saluted the fans who made the 250-mile trip from Delta County to Traverse City’s Thirlby Field. “I love the support. It’s an amazing feeling to get this far. I appreciate the whole Escanaba community and our coaching staff for everything they did to support us.”

The Eskymos reached the semifinals by taking care of their home field. They opened the post-season with a 40-14 triumph over Bay City John Glenn, followed by a 42-14 conquest of Alma in the district final and 39-21 victory over Williamston in the regional title game.

“This was a lot of fun,” said junior quarterback Craig Kamin. “It was great playing at home in front of our hometown fans. We were proud to represent our school and community. It’s a little hard for us right now, but the season had to end eventually.”

Late in the second quarter, Kamin lost a fumble which was recoved by University of Michigan recruit Jalen Mayfield on this chilly and damp afternoon. Senior running back Nolan Fugate then scored his second of three touchdowns a short time later.

“Mayfield a great ballplayer,” said Kamin. “They’re tough up front. They’re solid at every position. The fumble is on me. There was nothing wrong with the snap. The ball just slipped through my fingers. Everytime you hit the ground, you were in water. The ball was wet and cold.”

Carroll said he was impressed with the Cougars overall.

“Catholic Central is a phenomenal team,” he added. “They definitely made it difficult for us.”

Kamin was also impressed with Fugate, who ran for 247 yards.

“It was hard to bring him down,” he added.

“He also had a great line blocking for him. He’s a tough player, and he’s great finding the holes. I’m glad we had the chance to play them. This gave me all kinds of experience and confidence. I just have to work a lot harder than I did. I think we’ll have a good squad again next year. We’re losing a lot (through graduation), but we have players who will step up.”

The Cougars (13-0) now face Edwardsburg (12-1) in Friday’s state title contest at Detroit’s Ford Field.

Many of the Eskymos, who played on this year’s 10-3 football team, will soon begin their preparation for basketball, hockey or wrestling.