By Dan Hardenbrook
Depth on the high school football roster is becoming more and more important, and the Newberry Indians finally got to show theirs off in a dominating 48-0 win Friday at home against Superior Central. It was a total team effort: The Indians used four different quarterbacks and had eight players carry the ball to improve their season record to 4-1.
Superior Central came in knowing they were outgunned in both skill and roster size, so they tried to slow the pace and make things harder for the Indians.
The Cougars started out moving the ball well before stalling and turning it over on downs. Matthew Rahilly scored on a short run to cap off the first drive and Gavin Nutkins found Gabe Luck on a pass to the end zone as Newberry went up 16-0. It held that way until the final few seconds of the first quarter.
As the Indians were driving again, a turnover inside the 5-yard line gave the Cougars a stop and possession of the ball. However, the mistake turned into a blessing for Newberry. With Superior Central backed up near their own goal line, the Indians defense went on the attack forcing a safety that gave the Indians an 18-0 lead and the ball immediately back.
They wasted no time making it a 10-point swing, as Matthew Rahilly ran the post safety kick right back for a touchdown. After another Newberry stop, Rahilly, now at QB, hooked up with Nutkins on a pass in the back of the endzone. The Indians led 34-0 with the safety, kick return, and touchdown pass all coming in a 3 ½ minute span of game time.
Rahilly ran back the dagger to start the second half, returning his second kickoff of the game for a score. With the lead now ballooning to 40-0, the Indians put in their second players. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, many Newberry players were in brand new spots and several JV players who were called up to fill in finished the game.
Junior Spencer Neeb, normally a fill-in linebacker and tight end, played quarterback for only the second time in his high school career. He played one half previously in a JV game as a freshman when the team only had eight remaining players.
After a nervous start that included a fumbled snap, Neeb led the Indians on a late-scoring drive and even scored the ensuing two-point conversion to cap off the scoring at 48-0 for the Indians.
JV quarterback Garrett Lewicki and running back Kadin Kellogg led the varsity offense in the fourth to finish off the ball game, with both breaking big runs to seal the victory.
The win was Newberry’s second in a row. They’ve lost only to Rudyard this season, and the Bulldogs have recently lost two games. The Indians are now in a position where they can still tie for the Great Lakes 8 East Championship if they win their last remaining conference games against Rapid River and Pickford.
Rudyard’s loss on Saturday also gives the Indians a shot to finish a game ahead of everyone else and possibly earn a home playoff game later this season. However, the Indians will face one of their toughest tests of the season, as they renew an old rivalry with the undefeated St. Ignace Saints. The Saints are in their first season of 8 Man Football at the varsity level.
The Indians and Saints will meet on Friday night, which is Newberry’s Homecoming. The JV game will kick off at 4 p.m. with the Varsity to follow around 7 p.m.