Injuries and turnovers plague the chances for JLHS football to get their first win
JOHANNESBURG - Injuries and turnovers were the story for the Johannesburg-Lewiston football team in their 48-28 loss to Elk Rapids on Friday night.
The Cardinals started the game without a couple of key players including senior quarterback Preston Marlatt and junior fullback Noa Johnson. The depth of the roster was tested right away with multiple players getting injured throughout the game.
JLHS was down to their third-string players at some key positions but kept battling to try to get back into the game after falling down 14-0 at the end of the first quarter. The Cardinals would bounce back with a second-quarter touchdown by senior halfback Logan May.
Elk Rapids quickly responded and put the game out of reach with a 28-12 lead at halftime. A major factor of the game getting away from the Cardinals was the turnovers. The Cardinals fumbled the ball three times in crucial situations making the comeback next to impossible to achieve.
One shining star for the Cardinals was Logan May. The senior halfback led the team with 142 yards and two touchdowns. A lot of the offense was forced to run through May with Marlatt and Johnson out and he delivered with a monster game. Even more impressive for May was the fact he was running with a beat-up offensive line that was on their third center of the season.
“Logan May stepped up,” coach Smokevitch said. “He impressed with the way that he stepped up tonight. It is nice to see him take a bigger leadership role with this team.”
Defensively the Cardinals struggled to stop the passing attack of the Elks. There were times when they had Elk Rapids pinned deep but a deep pass kept the chains moving and the JLHS defense could not get off the field.
The Cardinals defense was led by sophomore linebacker Aydan Fulton who led the team in tackles and by junior linebacker Rily McVannel who accounted for the team’s only interception of the night.
The loss comes as a surprise for the Cardinals who have now lost two games in a row. JLHS football had not lost a regular-season game in three straight seasons prior to this one. Coach Smokevitch is hoping to get healthy and get their star, Preston Marlatt, back soon.
“Preston is a difference-maker,” coach Smokevitch said. “He would have been a difference-maker last week and this week. It is a big difference when he is out on the field. He is the best athlete on the field for either team."
The Cardinals are hoping to get healthy and turn the season around next week at home against Harbor Springs. The game will be at 7 p.m. and JLHS will be looking for their first win of the young season.
East Jordan hands J-L first league loss in 5 years
Drew Kochanny - The Petoskey News-Review
EAST JORDAN — There’s surprises at the start of every football season.
Look no further than Friday’s matchup between the East Jordan and Johannesburg-Lewiston for the first of 2021.
With the Cardinals coming off a semifinal run in Division 8 and three straight unbeaten Legacy Division league titles, it was safe to call J-L the favorite entering their meeting at Boswell Stadium.
That label, however, doesn’t come with an automatic win attached.
East Jordan broke off big plays and four scores of 20 or more yards to hand J-L their first conference loss since October of 2017 in a 36-12 Red Devil victory.
With a lot of his skill guys back this season, East Jordan head coach Greg Kitson felt Friday night would come down to whether or not a new offensive line could click and Kitson certainly got his answer.
Dylan Wynkoop broke the game open with a 71 yard touchdown for the Red Devils to bring on the early lead, though the Cardinals responded to that score and the next EJ score to keep things close.
Granger Kitson later scored on a 20-yard reception, Ethan Antaya ran in a 36-yard touchdown, then Antaya added a 54-yard score.
Wynkoop finished the game with 121 yards on just five carries, Antaya scored on both of his carries to total 90 yards and Kitson had five carries for 75 yards and two grabs for 29 yards.
Zander Johnecheck also ran in a one-yard touchdown and Tommy Reid finished 6-of-10 passing for 83 yards and a touchdown.
Johnecheck also led on the defensive side with 16 tackles and two for a loss, while Lee Nemecek had 10, one behind the line, and Carter Sherman had nine tackles.
There were some miscues on both sides of the ball but we got the win, we came out of it healthy, and we know that we can play even better,” added Kitson. “Getting better everyday and every week is going to be important as our schedule is filled with challenges. We have to get ready for a really good Mancelona team, we have played some really good football games with them the last two games we have played against each other and I don’t expect this one to be any different.”
The Cardinals look to grow inexperience into winning football this year
The team with the most success in the area is back and ready to compete once again for a championship. The Johannesburg-Lewiston Cardinals made it to the state semi-finals last season and after winning the conference three years in a row, the team's expectations are set high. That does not mean that the team won't have to overcome obstacles like last year.
The season started with three cancellations in a row due to Covid-19 shutdowns, but that didn’t hold the Cardinals back as they prepared for the season. Once they got approval to start practice again, the team was off and running and didn’t look back. JLHS would go on to win their first 10 games and would finish with an undefeated record within the Northern Michigan Football Conference: Legacy Division.
Having to play into December wasn’t exactly how this team had imagined their season going, but fighting through that adversity brought the team together. Their success last year speaks volumes about the culture of this team under head coach Joe Smokevitch.
The Cardinals will look a bit different this year with 15 seniors graduating from last year’s team. With only two starters returning from each side of the ball, experience will not be a strength like the year prior. Smokevitch’s team must replace two all-state offensive linemen and will only have one offensive lineman returning this year.
“We are going to have some kids starting that didn’t play last year,” coach Smokevitch said. “It’s a total offensive line rebuild. I am excited to see how well they mature and grasp everything. I am looking forward to seeing that inexperience grow into some real good football players.”
The roster will also be a smaller one as it only has 15 total players. Health will be another obstacle to overcome with fewer substitutes than the coaching staff would like. The team had the same 11 players play offense and defense last season, so they know that as long as they stay healthy their conditioning won’t be a problem.
One thing that the Cardinals do have going for them heading into this season is that their senior quarterback, Preston Marlatt, will be returning this year. Marlatt will be doing a lot of damage with his feet as coach Smokevitch calls him the “best athlete and probably the best player in the conference.” Marlatt will also move to a new defensive position this season as he will take over at the safety spot and look to use his speed to make plays that way.
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