Eagles riding Clark, home-field advantage in clash with No. 5 Titans

SCHOOLCRAFT — Never has home-field advantage been more critical than it will be Saturday for Schoolcraft’s football team.
Terry Haas’ No. 2-ranked Eagles (10-0) entertain No. 5 Jackson Lumen Christi (8-2) at 1 p.m. at Roy Davis Field to decide the Division 6, Region 4, District 1 championship.
The winner of the contest advances to next week’s regional against the winner between Napoleon (8-2) and Grass Lake (9-1) who play Friday at 7 p.m.
Should Schoolcraft win, the Eagles would host the regional based on having the higher playoff average of the four teams in the region.
Lumen Christi has a rich football tradition under legendary coach Herb Brogan.
The Titans finished first in the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference with a 6-1 record. Lumen Christi’s two losses this season came to 30-13 to Grand Rapids West Catholic and 24-14 to Battle Creek Harper Creek.
Schoolcraft, meanwhile, finished 5-0 for first and won the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s Central Division.
Lumen Christi defeated Watervliet 55-28 in its playoff opener, while Schoolcraft topped Constantine 40-28.
The Titans’ offenses poses a big challenge for the Eagles’ defense, which has given up just 99 points this season.
“Lumen Christi runs a power offense out of multiple formations,” Haas said. “They hustle to the line of scrimmage and run the play before the defense can adjust to their formation.
“Their favorite plays are power-off tackle, toss sweep, counter trey, fullback trap and a fullback dive. Defensively they run a 4-3, 5-3 and 3-4 sets so we must be prepared for a variety of fronts.”
Lumen Christi’s Bo Bell  is the team's top rusher for the Titans.
“Bell is very quick and elusive,” Haas said. “One coach from their league told me that he ran 40 times for over 300 yards in one game. He is their workhorse and an excellent back. We must contain him.”
The Titans, who have outscored foes 330-177, have other offensive weapons in fullback Kyle Minder, along with Dalton Keller (6-4, 240).
Other top receivers for Lumen Christi include Jacob Lathers and Cameron White.
Lumen Christi’s standouts on defense include Minder, Karim Harris and Alex Lasky at linebackers.
“We must control the line of scrimmage and their running back (Bell),” Haas said.
“Offensively we must be able to move the ball consistently and keep the ball away from Lumen Christi’s offense.”
Haas feels good about all three phases of Schoolcraft’s game.
“We have been able to move the football both running and passing,” Haas added.
“Defensively we have avoided giving up the big play and have done a good job of keeping people out of the end zone. Our special teams have been a strength all season as we have excellent cover teams and we have really good punt return teams. Our kickers and punters have also done a nice job of pinning our opponents deep.”
Schoolcraft’s offense is directed by senior quarterback Ricky Clark.
Clark was huge in last week’s pre-district win over rival Constantine. The Eagles’ three-year starter shredded Constantine’s defense for 226 yards passing on 13-of-19 completions and four TDs.
Clark completed TD strikes of 44, 47 and 12 yards to senior receiver Nolan Anspaugh and he fired a 39-yard scoring strike to Spencer Fox.
On the ground Clark rushed 10 times for 36 yards and TD dashes of one and five yards.
Clark also came up with seven tackles in Schoolcraft’s defensive secondary.
Anspaugh finished the night with six catches for 120 yards last week. Fox, Ben Crofoot and Blake Bales are also receiving threats for the Eagles.
Crofoot led the Eagles’ rushing game with 18 carries for 130 yards. Jack Hunt piled up 96 yards on the ground in 10 tries.
Schoolcraft’s other big-time playmakers on defense include Aaron Lenning and Jakob Huysken who had 13 tackles apiece last week. Fox came up with 12, while Crofoot and Thomas Meadows had nine each and Riley Piper added eight.
Kameron Snyder’s foot could be a big key in the outcome Saturday. Snyder has been money in the bank for the Eagles this season on extra-point attempts.
Scott Hassinger can be reached at 279-7488 ext. 25 or sports@threeriversnews.com.

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