By DOUG DONNELLY
OTTAWA LAKE – The Whiteford Bobcat football team got a special pre-game message, then went out and took care of business as they beat the Madison Trojans 67-0 and improved to 5-0 on the 2017 season.
Record-setting senior quarterback Thomas Eitniear accounted for five scores – all in the first half – as the Bobcats built leads of 32-0 after one quarter and 53-0 at halftime.
Eitniear completed a 61-yard pass to Bradyn Clark-Gilmore on Whiteford’s first play of the game, the found Clark-Gilmore on the next Bobcat possession, this time for 41 yards. Eitniear added two rushing scores in the first quarter, and then opened the second quarter with a 56-yard touchdown pass to Zach Bertz. It was the first reception of Bertz’s varsity career.
The three touchdown passes gives Eitniear 31 for his career – a Bobcat career passing record. He also passed the 2,550-yard mark for his career passing yardage as he inches closer to Gabe LaRoy’s Whiteford record of 2,801 yards.
Bertz added a 5-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter. Ty Eitniear, Logan Murphy and Jack Garrison added touchdown runs. Garrison took it in from nine yards on in the fourth quarter on his third carry of not only the game but his career. He also recovered a Madison fumble, which stopped the deepest penetration by the Trojan offense in the game.
Nathan Bauman led the Bobcat rushing attack with 96 yards on eight carries. Logan Murphy had 79 yards rushing, Thomas Eitniear 73 and Ty Eitniear 72. Clark-Gilmore had 102 yards in receiving.
The Bobcats rushed for 357 yards and scored on every possession except a one-play possession late in the second quarter in which they took a knee on the last play before the first half ended.
Eli Shelton had a big game for the Whiteford defense with five solo tackles and seven assists. Included in those 12 tackles were three tackles for loss. Abba Risley was in on eight tackles and Garrison seven.
Prior to the contest, Matt Mika met with the Bobcat players and coaching staff, offering words of encouragement to the team. Mika, a former athlete at Adrian College, was shot several times in the chest and arm in June during a Congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, Va.
“I will be throwing out the first pitch at the (Detroit) Tigers game Sunday, so I was here,” Mika said. “I know so many of the Whiteford coaches. Jason (Mensing, Whiteford’s head coach) told me that if I was in the area I should come to a football game.”
Mika, director of government relations for Tyson Foods and former Congressional aid, was on the sidelines for the Bobcat win and was introduced between the first and second quarters. Members of the Madison football team stood and applauded along with the Bobcat players, coaches and fans when Mika tipped his hat to the crowd.
Bobcat assistant coaches Kris Hoag, Jay Gilmore and Charles Butz were athletes at Adrian College at the same time as Mensing and Mika. The group posed for post-game pictures.
With the victory, the Bobcats remained tied atop the Tri-County Conference standings with Morenci at 3-0 and moved within one win of qualifying for the playoffs for sixth consecutive season. Whiteford travels to Morenci next Friday for a battle with the Bulldogs, who have won three straight after starting the season with a one-point loss to Pittsford and two-point loss to Hudson.
- The 67 points scored were the third-most in Whiteford history and most scored by the Bobcats since they set the school scoring record by scoring 76 points vs. Summerfield in 1968. The second-most points in a game for Whiteford was a 68-point effort against Deerfield in 1964.
- Whiteford is averaging 56.6 points per game through five games.
- Nathan Bauman kicked three extra points for the Bobcats, the first three successful extra-point kicks of the season.
- Whiteford has scored 131 points in the last two weeks, the most points ever scored by the Bobcats in successive weeks.
- Thomas Eitniear has now accounted for 31 touchdown passes and 21 touchdown runs in his career, a total of 52 touchdowns.