Esky’s defense can’t hold off powerful Yellowjackets

By John Vrancic

ESCANABA – A stout defense wasn’t quite enough for the Escanaba Eskymos Saturday afternoon as they dropped a 34-7 football decision to a talented Detroit Country Day team.

The Eskymos limited Country Day to 77 yards rushing in this non-conference match-up. Only, they couldn’t stop senior quarterback Tyler Wiegers, who completed 11-of-16 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns.

Country Day, last year’s Division 4 state runner-up, improved to 2-3 with its second straight victory. The Eskymos are 1-4.

“We’re a good team, but we’ve been our own worst enemy at times,” said Country Day coach Dan MacLean. “We turned the ball over at crucial times in the first three games. I think this puts us in a positive frame of mind and motivation to make a run for the playoffs. A win next week would bring us to even and halfway there.”

Wieger, who will be playing at Division I and Big Ten inductee Rutgers next season, completed his first TD pass of 23 yards through the middle to junior wide receiver Jacob Hill and gave the Yellowjackets a 16-0 lead on a fourth-and-10 play with 40 seconds left in the first quarter.

“I thought our defense played well against the run, but two or three plays made the difference, said Esky coach Jim Hansen. “I think their quarterback was the difference in the game.”

The Eskymos responded early in the second stanza when Cameron Beversluis scored from 11 yards on a counter-trap play, trimming their deficit to 16-7.

“I certainly think that gave us a little momentum,” said Hansen. “We felt we could do some things offensively. But give credit to Country Day. They have a great program and excellent athletes. They have Division 1 talent and it becomes obvious on the field. They’re defintely better than their record shows.”

With 3:35 left in the second frame, Wieger found a leaping senior wide receiver and University of Michigan recruit Maurice Ways in stride between two Esky defenders on a 25-yard TD aerial, providing the Yellowjackets with a 22-7 cushion.

“That was a beautiful play on their part,” said Esky coach Jim Hansen. “Their receiver ran a good route and made a great catch.”

The Eskymos were driving in the closing moments of the second quarter as they marched inside Country Day’s 10-yard line.

Then, on the last play of the first half, senior Travis Heller’s pass was tipped as senior linebacker Cal Coffman dashed 91 yards on an interception return and a 28-6 Yellowjacket halftime advantage.

“They were in position to make a play, and they capitalized,” said Hansen. “They certainly have some fast kids.”

Country Day added another score midway through the fourth quarter when Rivers bulled his way through the middle on a three-yard run.

“I thought this was a physical game on both sides,” said Hansen.”I’m proud of the way the kids responded in the second half. Overall, I thought we did a pretty good job.”

It took the Yellowjackets just 2:03 to open the scoring as senior running back and Boston College recruit Richard Wilson scored on a one-yard run up the middle.

“We were greared up,” said MacLean. “The kids did a nice job. We needed this one. It would have been a long bus ride home if we hadn’t won. The turnover right before the half turned the game. Our defense did a better job today.”

Wilson was Country Day’s rushing leader with 50 yards on 12 carries.

Esky managed 132 yards in total offense, including 86 on the ground. Heller ran 10 times for 42 and hit 5-of-18 aerials for 46 and an interception.

The Eskymos will try to regroup and prepare for Friday’s visit to top-ranked Menominee.

Esky’s jayvees had better luck against Country Day, winning 19-14.