Football runs over Linden, qualifies for playoffs


IMAGE / Mackenzie Atkinson

Junior Isaiah Stiverson (No. 2) stiff arms a Linden linebacker as he runs upfield in Kearsley's homecoming football game Friday, Oct. 11.

Cold, wind, and rain could not stop the football team from laying a beating on Metro League foe Linden as the Hornets won 44-26. Kearsley’s sixth victory guarantees an MHSAA Class A playoff spot for the Hornets.

Senior John Brown is “happy as can be” to make the playoffs.

“There’s no other way I would’ve wanted to spend my last football season,” Brown said.

Brown credits the team’s bonds as a reason for the Hornets’ success this year.

“The togetherness that we gained over the offseason has played a huge role in our success this season,” Brown said. “The trust we put into each other just ties it all together.”

Senior Ashtyn Cohoon has dreamed of the playoffs since he was young.

“It’s been a dream since youth football to make the playoffs,” Cohoon said, “and it’s a dream come true.”

Cohoon said focus helped the Hornets put together such a solid record this season.

“The whole team was focused on our goal and we did everything we could to make it happen,” Cohoon said.

IMAGE / Mackenzie Atkinson
Sophomore Derrick Phipps (second from right) tackles a Linden player as junior Conner Cooper (second from left) runs toward the play in the homecoming game against Linden Friday, Oct. 11.

After the Hornets fumbled the ball deep in Linden territory, the Eagles drove for a controversial touchdown as the ball carrier lost the ball before crossing the goal line. The Eagles took a 7-0 lead with 6:12 left in the first quarter.

The Hornets could not convert on fourth down during their next drive: a 10-play, 52-yard sequence.

The defensive line stepped up to force a three-and-out that gave the Hornets the ball with 32 seconds left in the first quarter.

It took the Hornets 50 seconds and three plays to score as junior Isaiah Stiverson broke off a 58-yard rushing touchdown with 11:48 left in the first half.

Stiverson punched in the two-point conversion and the Hornets led 8-7.

The Eagles scored on their next drive but failed the two-point conversion. The Hornets trailed 13-8 with 9:13 left in the half.

After stitching together an eight-play, 60-yard drive, the Hornets retook the lead as junior Braylon Silvas sprinted into the end zone on a quarterback keeper. Stiverson tacked on the two-point conversion on the ground and the Hornets led 16-13.

IMAGE / Mackenzie Atkinson
Junior Braylon Silvas (No. 1) watches junior Isaiah Stiverson (No. 2) as he carries the ball upfield after the hand off. The Hornets beat Linden 44-26 in the homecoming game Friday, Oct. 11.

Brown forced Linden’s quarterback to fumble the ball on the Eagles’ next drive. The Hornets capitalized as Silvas ran 59 yards for the score. The Eagles stopped the two-point conversion and the Hornets led 22-13.

The Hornets picked off the next Linden drive and the Hornets kept a nine-point lead going into halftime.

After stopping the Eagles in their second half-opening drive, the Hornets took advantage of a scrambling Eagle defense and Silvas ran in another touchdown. Stiverson scored the two-point conversion and the Hornets led 30-13.

The defense held firm against the Eagles, forcing Linden to punt from the Hornets’ 45-yard line.

On a second-and-two run, Silvas popped off of his offensive line and rolled to the outside, sprinting down the sideline for a 47-yard touchdown. Stiverson found his way into the end zone for the two-point conversion and the Hornets led 38-13 with 2:46 to go.

The Eagles tried to mount a comeback but bad penalties took the wind out from under the Eagles’ wings.

After a 12-yard Linden pass on fourth down, the officiating crew hauled out the chains. Much drama and anticipation peaked as the officials marked the Eagles short of the first down. The Hornet sideline erupted.

IMAGE / Mackenzie Atkinson
Senior John Brown (No. 44) tries to maneuver around Linden’s offensive line in the homecoming game against the Eagles Friday, Oct. 11. Brown made four tackles, including a sack, in the game.

At the start of the fourth quarter, a high snap almost caused a Hornet safety but senior Ethan Livingston made a genius play to pick up the ball and run it before tossing it out of bounds at Kearsley’s 30-yard line.

With a touchdown at 10:31, Linden cut its deficit to a 38-19 margin.

Sophomore Kodie Josling came in clutch on the ensuing onside kick, catching the ball and hitting the ground to prevent a turnover.

Stiverson answered with a touchdown of his own, powering in a 5-yard rush to put K-Town up 44-19.

The Eagles knocked on Kearsley’s door on their next drive but a timely fumble recovery by junior Jack Porter all but guaranteed a Kearsley victory.

Linden would score for pride with less than a minute left, ending the game 44-26.

Kearsley heavily favored running the ball, amassing 602 yards on the ground to just four through the air.

Stiverson tallied 310 rushing yards in the game and two touchdowns, while Silvas ran for 269 yards and four touchdowns.

We are looking to win out and finish the season strong, hoping for a home playoff game. It’s win or go home and we’re going to be dogs and push as far as we can in the postseason.”

— Ashtyn Cohoon, senior

Sophomore Derrick Phipps and Brown led the defense with four solo tackles apiece. Brown also had a sack in the game. Junior Michael Gibson made three tackles himself and assisted on another.

Seniors Matt Monroe, La’Ron Ruffin, and Josh Truax each accumulated two stops.

With a 6-1 record, the Hornets sit at second in the Metro League’s stripes division.

In the Metro League crossover game, the Hornets will visit Brandon Friday, Oct. 18.

While the Hornets made the playoffs, they aren’t satisfied with coasting.

“We are looking to win out and finish the season strong, hoping for a home playoff game,” Cohoon said. “It’s win or go home and we’re going to be dogs and push as far as we can in the postseason.”