Frenzy preview: Physical Holland Christian vs. unbeaten Byron Center

Football Frenzy

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Holland Christian football team wasn’t about to let an early setback derail its season.

The Maroons struggled in losing to Forest Hills Eastern in Week 2, but bounced back the following week with an impressive 27-14 win over defending Division 4 state champion Unity Christian.

“We had a real disappointing loss to a good Forest Hills Eastern team, but we talked about how to not let disappointment become discouragement and then become despair,” Holland Christian coach Chris Kuipers said. “And so to come back and win a big game certainly bolsters that for us and now we have to battle not becoming overconfident because this is a great football  team we’re playing in Byron Center.”

Holland Christian opens O-K Green play Friday night against unbeaten Byron Center.

After back-to-back losing seasons, the Bulldogs are off to their best start since 2016.

“This is a team that we’ve battled back and forth with in my years here and I have a ton of respect for their program,” Kuipers said. “They have quite a bit of speed and their quarterback is a challenge with his feet and he throws a nice ball. Defensively, they are so aggressive and they play so hard and physical. We have to match that physicality.”

Kuipers also pointed to a disparity in number as an obstacle for his team to overcome.

“One of the challenges is their numbers,” he said. “They have a big school and almost twice as many kids as we do, so they are going to come in waves. Unity didn’t have a lot of kids so we were able to wear them down so we’re not going to have that advantage this week.”

Holland Christian garnered attention last season with a pair of playoff wins before bowing out in the regional finals to eventual state champion Edwardsburg.

“They were pretty good last year and when you play 12 games, that’s great experience,” Bulldogs coach Marc Cisco said. “They are long and physical and against Unity, they were definitely the more superior physical team. It’s more than I’ve seen from them before and coach Kuipers has done a good job of raising expectations for those kids.”

Byron Center has played well this season behind the play of senior quarterback Austin VanderMarkt and a strong defense, as evident by double-digit wins over Forest Hills Northern, Thornapple Kellogg and Hamilton. 

“We’re gaining experience as we go,” Cisco said. “We’ve been in some ball games where we’ve had to do some good things after making bad decisions. Those things happen, but we’ve been able to survive those and they are good teaching moments.”

EDWARDSBURG EDDIES (3-0) at VICKSBURG BULLDOGS (3-0)

A pair of unbeaten teams in the Wolverine Conference will clash as Vicksburg looks to snap the 17-game winning streak of Edwardsburg.

The Eddies claimed the Division 4 state title a year ago after going a perfect 14-0 and have notched three convincing wins to open this season.

Edwardsburg has outscored its first three opponents 148-8 and has allowed only one touchdown while posting a pair of shutouts.

Vicksburg missed the playoffs last year with a 3-6 record, but has already matched that win total.

The Bulldogs also have been stout defensively, surrendering only 22 points, while averaging 35 points per game.

Edwardsburg is 7-1 all-time against Vicksburg with its only loss occurring in 2014.

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