Paw Paw’s playoff run ends at Edwardsburg

By: 
Butch Hindenach • pawtwice@bloomingdalecom.net
     The Edwardsburg defense turned out to be too much blue to get through for Paw Paw’s runningbacks Friday.  The Eddies bottled up the Redskins all night to claim the District title.   Haley Hagen photo

   EDWARDSBURG - Early Friday evening, Paw Paw’s football team headed south for a District final football game at Edwardsburg, an unfriendly place for the Redskins and any other football team in Southwestern Michigan for the past decade. It would be the second meeting of the two schools this season, both on the Eddies’ home turf. Despite a 41-0 blowout loss in September,  Paw Paw’s football  warriors held out hope of an upset. The team had improved as the season wound down, after all. 
   But, it was not to be.
   The orange and blue-clad Eddies quickly asserted their abilities, and moved on in tourney play with a dominant 49-10 verdict.  Paw Paw’s offense, which had struggled the past two weeks despite big wins, never got going. The Redskins ended the evening with over 60 yards of negative rushing yardage.
   With few first downs, the Reds did not run a lot of plays, and, in fact, their leading rusher and touchdown producer Kurtis Carr had only one running attempt all evening. 
   At the same time, in their usual mode of operation, the Eddies chewed up ground yards, ending with over 400 by the end of the game. The Eddies have had little trouble all season compiling an 11-0 record thus far, scoring 575 points, while allowing just 66, and earning a No. 3 state ranking in Division 4.
   In what was at least somewhat of a moral victory, neither team scored in the first period, the first time this year Edwardsburg has not scored in the initial quarter. It took merely 30 seconds in quarter two to remedy this, when the hosts scored a touchdown and two-point conversion. After the Redskins went three-and-out, the Eddies marched 74 yards to up the score to 16-0, and added shortly, a 60-yard drive to the endzone for a 24-0 lead.
   On the ensuing kickoff, Kurtis Carr brought the ball back 64 yards to the 19 for Paw Paw, and with 0.05 on the game clock, Jose Valverede kicked a 26-yard field goal to put the Reds on the scoreboard.
   The ’Skins received the second half kickoff and got to the 29   after Karsen Barnhart ran a dozen yards for a first down, only to fumble and lose the ball at the end of the play.  It was the longest run of the game for Paw Paw, and made Barnhart the team rushing leader for the evening. It also was the only run from scrimmage for the season for the 6’5”, 285-lb. University of Michigan 2019 re-cruit.   
   The home team crossed over the goal line three more times in the third quarter, creating a running mercy rule clock the rest of the night. The Eddies scored once more with nine minutes remaining in the game; and finally with 1:10 left to go, Paw Paw  scored a touchdown on a nice 43-yard pass from Mason Popp to Peter Frey.       
   It was a difficult way to end what has been a season with  more success than may have been expected, finishing with an 8-3 win-loss record, and the first playoff appearance since the 2014-15 season. 
   The future for the Red and White is hopeful, with some quality juniors returning and a sophomore class that posted a 7-1 record, and twice in three years has held the Eddies to a one- touchdown win in their meetings.
   Not to be forgotten is the large contribution made to this successful season by seniors Kurtis Carr, Caleb Schmitt, Jacob Matheny, David Marshall, Karsen Barnhart, Peter  Frey, Zac Agnone, Michael Lobretto, August Sylvester, Noah Barr, Caleb DeCamp, Sean McConnell, Robert Courter, and Dylon Antles.

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