Players on the White Pigeon football team wear shirts that say “FAMILY” on the chest. Head coach Joseph Morsaw preaches it every day. They all wear emotions associated with the term on their sleeves.
And after rolling up those sleeves and securing a 30-6 win over visiting Centreville in the St. Joseph Valley League opener for both programs, the Chiefs’ family grew. Homecoming was punctuated by assistant coach Kurt Twichell’s successful marriage proposal to Kate Gilbert.
A good win and a great night.
“I’m relieved it’s over,” Morsaw said about Homecoming Week. “I told them we’re going to focus on what we need to do and it’s all about our technique.”
The Chiefs (3-2, 1-0) took just 70 seconds to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, driving down the field and punctuating the march with a 19-yard rushing touchdown by Cahil Krajniak. Donavon Gremore added a 2-point conversion. Quarterback Matt Eger found the end zone from a yard out on White Pigeon’s second drive for a 15-0 advantage.
Eger connected with Dylan Hochstetler for an 18-yard touchdown and Chas Rathburn, selected as Homecoming King, scored on a 6-yard run in the second quarter to build a 30-0 halftime cushion.
Eger rushed 10 times for 83 yards, Rathburn finished with six carries for 67 and Hunter Rummler (4-33) and Krajniak (6-31) added to White Pigeon’s 280 yards of total offense.
Defensively, the Chiefs held Centerville (1-3, 0-1) to 51 yards of total offense and two first downs. Gremore (safety) had four solo tackles and defensive end/defensive tackle Cole Sellers posted three. Sellers, a junior, doesn’t necessarily get the credit he deserves, a number of White Pigeon coaches said.
The 6-foot-1, 170-pounder said he’s only concerned about helping his teammates, and the seniors in particular, accomplish their goals.
“It means everything to win [the first league game],” Sellers said. “I’m trying to help our seniors get to where they want to be, and I’m trying to get to where I want to be. We worked really hard over the offseason and we deserve to be where we are.”
Eger and fellow QB Dylan Hochstetler combined for 5-of-7 passing for 58 yards. The Chiefs were 3-for-7 on third down.
The Bulldogs Zach Bauman got his squad on the board with 9:01 left in the game on an eight-yard scamper. Also the team’s defensive voice at defensive back, he shouted encouragement as the door seemingly shut on Centreville’s playoff chances.
“You must compete,” he said to his teammates. “It’s you against yourselves.”
With only a three-game league schedule, White Pigeon hopes to get past Bronson next week and give Mendon a battle for the crown. Morsaw admitted a scoreless second half left plenty of room for improvement, but stopping a two-game skid and opening the SJV slate with a victory is definitely something on which to build.