GH football scrimmages Portage Northern in leadup to opener

Nich Wolak • Aug 19, 2016 at 5:00 AM

The new Grand Haven football coach got to test out his team against another for the first time on Thursday.

Jason Tester was pleased overall with his team’s performance against visiting Portage Northern.

“The mood of each team is different,” said Tester, who was hired as the Buccaneers’ coach in May. “I’ve had rah-rah guys and teams that were kind of silent. This group wasn’t saying a lot, and I was a little leery in how they were going to approach it. (But) they answered it. We saw a lot of good things that we were looking for and what we anticipated.

“Obviously, there are going to be some things that we need to clean up. Overall, the physicality was there — for the most part. Pad level we need to fix, establishing the line of scrimmage on both sides, all of those things that are going to put you in a position to win ball games. … The execution was there at times. We’ll clean up and be ready for next week.”

Grand Haven and Portage Northern played a modified game format on Thursday. Kickoffs, punts and extra-point attempts were not live, with whistles being blown earlier on a number of tackles.

The score was not kept publically, but equaled 29-16 in favor of the visiting Huskies.

Tester, who did not appear to play his starters as long as his counterpart on the other sideline, said he was more focused on evaluating personnel than the outcome.

“We knew what guys we needed to see get a great number of reps, we knew what guys we needed to get minimal reps,” Tester said. “We want to get guys on film and evaluate those that are kind of in question. There are battles that are taking place. That’s just part of the process.”

Grand Haven looked pretty good with its starters in, forcing a Portage Northern three-and-out to open the contest, before quarterback Logan Taylor capped a drive with a touchdown pass to Brady Jonas.

The extra point put the Bucs up 7-0 with 4:17 remaining in the first quarter.

Portage Northern responded early in the second, with a back rumbling into the end zone from about 10 yards out. The extra point gave the visitors an 8-7 lead.

Grand Haven scored its last touchdown of the game late in the quarter, as speedy senior Joey Zelenka raced up the left sideline for a 30-plus yard gain. The Bucs fumbled the snap on the extra point, keeping the home team at a 13-8 advantage heading into the half.

Portage Northern followed suit late in the third quarter, taking a big play up the left sideline to tie it up at 13, before the extra point put them up by one.

The Huskies went up the middle for one more later in the quarter, claiming a 22-13 lead after the extra point.

Jonas brought the Bucs within a touchdown heading into the fourth quarter, hitting an impressive, 52-yard field goal.

Neither team offered much offense down the stretch, with Portage Northern scoring on the final play of the game via a pass to the flats.

Grand Haven opens its regular season at Reeth-Puffer on Thursday, Aug. 25.

SL, Fruitport coaches talk scrimmages

The Spring Lake and Fruitport football teams also scrimmaged on Thursday evening.

Spring Lake was at Hudsonville Unity Christian on Thursday evening, facing off with the host Crusaders, Mount Pleasant and Chippewa Hills. The teams played 15-minute sessions on both sides of the ball against each opponent.

“I think it went really well, I really do,” said first-year Spring Lake coach Daniel Start. “We had some really great competition. We had Unity Christian, who’s playoffs every year, Chippewa Hills made the playoffs last year … and they added Mount Pleasant yesterday. … We had some great competition, and we ran with them stride for stride.

Fruitport played at Oakridge Thursday morning, going for 12-minute session on both sides of the ball against the host Eagles, Cedar Springs, Holland and Allendale.

“We were pretty happy,” said Fruitport coach Greg Vargas. “We started out a little rough, a couple quarterback-center exchange issues, but once we got going, kids were comfortable. We feel like our scrimmage was solid … it was a really good measure. It was a really good quiz for us, and I feel like we passed. Not to say there’s not work to do.”

The Lakers host NorthPointe Christian on Thursday, Aug. 25, while the Trojans will be tested against Coopersville at Grand Valley State University next Saturday, Aug. 27.

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