Linden — It’s been a tough season for the Linden varsity football team.
On Oct. 25, 2019 the Eagles entered Friday night’s battle with neighborhood rival Lake Fenton with a 3-5 record, losing four of those contests by a combined 23 points. The tough losses cost the Eagles a chance of making the playoffs for a second straight season.
However, the Eagles didn’t let those frustrations bother them Friday night when they played the Blue Devils for the first time since 1981. Instead, the Eagles, led by many members of their senior class, had what may have been their best game of the season by defeating Lake Fenton 60-22.
Senior quarterback Colby Kohmescher completed 25-of-32 passes for 324 yards and an eye-popping seven TD passes and fellow senior Brenden Miller caught a TD pass and caught two interceptions, leading the Eagles to the impressive victory.
“I just wanted to go out there and not forget,” Miller said. “I didn’t want to regret or dwell on how things went this season. I wanted to look forward to something good and go out with a bang.”
“It was great. We started the rivalry again,” Kohmescher said. “I was super confident in our team and what we could do offensively, and we did it. I’m proud of my team.”
“It has been frustrating because we’ve played better than a four-win team,” Linden varsity football coach Denny Hopkins said. “We didn’t make some plays down the stretch in a couple of places and it hurt us. But we learned from it.”
These kids could’ve rolled
over and just hung it up, but the last few weeks they wanted to finish at the top of their game and they did. We could’ve very easily been 7-2 or 8-1. … It’s one of those things. It’s hard because I know how hard these kids work. Those eight seniors are a pretty good group, good leaders.”
The Eagles weren’t the only team on Linden’s home football field looking back at a frustrating season. The Blue Devils (3-6) also had their share of disappointments this fall, but came out looking mighty impressive on their first drive. The Blue Devils took 5:58 off the clock, drove 77 yards in 14 plays, scoring on a five-yard TD run on a bootleg scamper by Reid Shumaker. Lake Fenton failed the two-point conversion, but led 6-0.
However, that would be Lake Fenton’s high point of the contest as the Eagles scored the next 40 points of the first half. Linden took just four plays to score on its first offensive possession of the contest, scoring on a 42-yard TD pass from Kohmescher to Miller. That would be just one of seven TD tosses by Kohmescher.
Linden’s special teams scored the game’s next points. Forced to punt deep in its zone Lake Fenton’s protection struggled, Linden’s Bryce Eliuk blocked the punt and it rolled through the back of the end zone for a safety. Linden led 9-0.
When Linden got the ball back after the safety, it took just three plays to score on Kohmescher’s 31-yard touchdown completion to Seeger DeGayner. After Carson Kelley’s second of seven extra-point kick conversions, the Eagles led 16-6 with 1:13 left in the first quarter.
Miller collected the first of his two interceptions during Lake Fenton’s next possession, and made a large gain on the return, setting up the Eagles’ next score. It took Linden just four plays to drive 33 yards and score on Kohmescher’s 21-yard TD pass to Luke Gorkiewicz. The Linden lead was 23-6.
Lake Fenton was forced to punt during its next possession and the Eagles’ offense continued their hot streak. It took eight plays to score on DeGayner’s two-yard TD reception. Linden led 30-6. After Lake Fenton failed to convert a fourth down on its next possession, the Eagles had another scoring drive. This time a surprising 25-yard completion to Kohmescher from Gavin Wildeman helped set up Kelley’s 33-yard field goal. Linden led 33-6 with 2:08 left in the half.
The Blue Devils failed to convert another fourth-down play on their next possession, setting up Linden’s 14-yard TD pass from Kohmescher to Wildeman. Linden led 40-6 with 1:08 left in the half.
The Blue Devils were able to score before the half was over. A 44-yard run by Michael O’Brien set up the Blue Devils’ 18-yard TD run by James Hamilton. Shumaker completed a two-point pass to O’Brien, but it only cut the Linden lead to 40-12 entering the half.
Linden’s offense dominated the second half, scoring three more TDs. Two were touchdown passes by Kohmescher. His sixth TD pass was a 12-yard completion to DeGayner while the seventh came on a 23-yard completion to Wildeman. The last score came on Eliuk’s 14-yard TD run.
Lake Fenton was able to score one more time in the fourth quarter. Set up by a 27-yard screen pass completion to Nathan DeMasi and a 17-yard run by DeMasi as well, DeMasi completed the drive with a 22-yard touchdown run.
Both teams looked at the positives created during the season.
“I learned to never give up,” Miller said. “The coaches will always be 100 percent behind you through thick and thin. It doesn’t matter if you’re 1-8 or 9-0, they are always going to treat you the same exact way. It’s nice knowing that the coaching staff is how they are.”
“There was only one game we lost by more than six points. We were in all of the games and our record doesn’t really show how good of a team we really are,” Kohmescher said. “I know and everyone on the team knows we were a really good team.”
“Next year is going to start tomorrow, but tonight it’s about these seniors,” Lake Fenton varsity football coach Marty Borski said. “They are a great group of kids. I can’t say enough. We had no bad days. When you end up 3-6, you’d think there’d be some crappy days in there, but there weren’t. We had a great group of kids.”
Both teams were glad the rivalry was rekindled as well.
“I love this. We are playing somebody in our own backyard,” Borski said. “We co-exist with these people on a daily basis and they are our friends and family. We had a great week of practice. We could’ve mailed it in, but we didn’t. We didn’t play great tonight by any stretch but when we are doing things as group of 11 we are not bad. … As always I take full blame because it seems like it’s the same things every week. I just couldn’t get us out of it.”
“I have the utmost respect for Marty and his program,” Hopkins said. “I’m glad he was willing to play us. Hopefully we can keep doing it. I think the communities like it. … Hopefully next year when we play it will be a little more meaningful, maybe we’ll both be getting into the playoffs. This not getting ion the playoffs two years in a row is not good. After 17 years of getting in, it’s hard.”