Zeeland East players hold up Josh Blauwkamp's jersey after beating Muskegon last Friday.
Zeeland East senior Josh Blauwkamp lays on the turf after breaking his leg last Friday against Muskegon.
Zeeland, Mich. (WZZM) The Zeeland East Chix Friday night celebrated one of the greatest wins in program history even as they fought through bitter disappointment. The Chix beat Muskegon 40-39 to cap a perfect 9-0 regular season and win the O-K Black title in their inaugural season in the conference. But they lost senior running back Josh Blauwkamp to a broken leg in the first quarter.
"Josh is a great kid," Chix coach Derek Pennington told WZZM Tuesday. "He had surgery Monday and we're all wishing him the best. Our kids obviously are bummed out about Josh but at the same time football injuries happen and we have to have guys step up and fill the positions he played. We've got other kids but you don't replace a Josh Blauwkamp."
The Chix face rival Zeeland West in round one of the district playoffs in Division three. The Chix beat the Dux 60-52 in a magnificent double overtime game in week two. "It's a great opportunity to play West again," says senior lineman Patrick Banks. "I love the atmosphere of the East-West game. It's a big rivalry. They're tough. They're small but they're really tough. Josh is a great football player but we have a thing called "next man in" and I think our guys will practice hard and we'll have another guy in there on Friday."
Zeeland West, meanwhile, is the reigning state champion in Division 4. The Dux were moved up a division in this year's playoffs and meet their cross-town rivals for the first time ever in the postseason. "We're excited to be playing," says head coach John Shillito. "It's one of those things where sometimes you're surprised with the draw and sometimes you're not. We were a little surprised but we're excited. They're a good football team we know that. They've won a lot of tough battles. I think our kids have got to show up and play hard on both sides of the ball."
Join WZZM's "13 On Your Sidelines" for scores and highlights from across West Michigan in week one of the playoffs this Friday night at 11:15.