MIDDLEVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — It didn’t take long for Middleville Thornapple-Kellogg senior Trent Johnson to realize that this season was going to be much different than past ones.
“We knew in the summer, during two-a-days, that we had something special,” Johnson said. “We were all pulling together, and this is the best chemistry we’ve ever had here and it really shows in how we play.”
The Trojans are in the midst of a major turnaround and they kept it going Friday night with a convincing 44-7 homecoming win over rival Wayland.
Thornapple-Kellogg remained perfect at 4-0, while handing the Wildcats their first loss of the season.
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The Trojans have already surpassed their win total from the previous two seasons. They went winless in 2016 and finished 2-7 a year ago.
“It’s their second year in the system, so offensively, the guys have bought into it,” Thornapple-Kellogg coach Jeff Dock said. “We’ve simplified the defense and we’ve trusted our kids to come out and make plays and run around and have a lot of fun. We try to get them to not think and just play, and play hard.”
The Trojans jumped on the visiting Wildcats early by scoring a pair of touchdowns in the first five minutes of the game.
Jordon Roobol tossed a 48-yard halfback pass to Cole Schoobridge to get Thornapple-Kellogg on the board. Quarterback Gabe Nelson then capped off another drive with a three-yard run to give the Trojans a 13-0 advantage.
“This was a huge game for these guys, a huge game for our community and a huge game for the program in general,” Dock said. “Anytime you can get those nerves out in a positive manner I think everyone gets to take a deep breath.”
The second quarter proved to be more of the same. Schoobridge hauled in another touchdown catch from Nelson that covered 28 yards, and then Johnson took a pitch and scampered in from 11 yards out.
The Trojans held a commanding 27-0 lead at halftime.
“We weren’t used to winning, but we have a good team this season,” Schoobridge said. “Coming out week 1 with a win over Hastings was a big confidence booster, and it’s just gone up from there.
“This game was insane and it was a big rivalry. They were 3-0, we were 3-0, and we pulled it out.”
The Trojans added a pair of touchdowns and a field goal in the second half, but it was their defense that rose to the challenge time and time again with big plays.
Thornapple-Kellogg stymied Wayland’s offense with several key sacks and held them scoreless until the final minute of the game.
“They had some athletes and No. 5 (quarterback Carson Sevigny) is as slippery as they come,” Dock said. “Our defense flew around and there were great tackles in space. They did their job and played outstanding.”
Added Johnson: “Our defense showed up and played tonight. It took them awhile to get into the end zone and I’m proud of how our defense played. Our offense was just marching and time of possession was a major key for us.”
The Wildcats prevented the shutout late as backup quarterback Zac Jones scored on an eight-yard run.
Thornapple-Kellogg’s 44 points was the most in a game since 2004, when they tallied 50 points against Wyoming Park.