GRANDVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — The participation numbers in football at Calvin Christian have declined in recent years.

Their willingness to continue to compete, however, haven’t wavered.

A young and inexperienced Squires’ squad lost to Walther Christian Academy (IL) 40-14 Saturday afternoon at Davies Field.

“That was a pretty good team,” said Calvin Christian assistant coach Syd Harvey, who filled in for head coach Dan Kapenga who had a prior wedding commitment.

“They had nice size and brought some physicality that will prepare our kids. I honestly thought that our kids stepped up to the challenge. We had two goal-line stands in the second half with their first kids in. I was proud of them.”

The Squires were one of three teams to opt out of the O-K Silver conference this season and their ability to field a varsity team was in question.

The decision was made to not play a junior varsity schedule, instead having all 30 kids in the program play on the varsity.

“We’ve been close to not having a program the last two years, but we had a lot of kids who stuck it out,” Harvey said. “We’ve had some tough numbers the last couple years and this year we have a lot of young kids.

“I think it was a decision to whether we were going to have a junior varsity or varsity team. The tough choice is we didn’t have enough kids to have an offensive line for the junior varsity so we were stuck. We pulled them up and the goal is to try and get the kids in a little bit.”

The Squires, who dropped to 1-2 on the season, hope the experience they gain will pay dividends in the years to come.

“If you look at our roster, it is mostly freshmen and first-year players,” Harvey said. “We hope that experience will help, and we hope to get three or four wins and build some excitement and build for the future.”

Senior Corbin Bakhuyzen, a returning all-conference player who had a rushing touchdown on 4th-and-1, said the lack of depth has been an issue at times.

“It’s tough just because we don’t get as many breaks, but also the fact that we have to play both ways,” he said. “Everyone gets down on themselves after we let up a touchdown on the first drive or something like that and it’s hard to bounce back. We have the same players on the field and it’s hard to bring new energy.”

And while Calvin Christian misses playing in the Silver, they know it’s for the best.

“The Silver has some really good competition, obviously, and they always made us better, but this is a league we can be more competitive in,” Bakhuyzen said. “Today, I think if we ever had a chance to play them again it would be a different story.”

Costly turnovers plagued the Squires on Saturday and it contributed to a 34-6 halftime deficit.

They surrendered only one score in the second half and scored late on a 12-yard touchdown pass from freshman Paul Bouma to senior Luke Fynwever-Muyskens.