Warren Conner Creek forfeits SSC game after one half
STANDISH-STERLING — It may not have been worth the trip for Warren Conner Creek Academy West, but Standish-Sterling's football fans didn't care.
In yet another unusual turn in the Panthers' 2008 season -- which so far has an unblemished 4-0 record -- SSC had to wait until after 9 p.m. to get its first home game of the year started. The Conner Creek squad, a third-year program that had forfeited its first two games and had yet to play a game this season, suffered a flat tire on its team bus south of Saginaw. Standish-Sterling sent one of its own buses to retrieve the team; the Conner Creek bus arrived about an hour after the SSC bus returned with the Panthers' opponents.
The game was over almost as soon as it started as the Panthers quickly raced to a 42-0 halftime lead, then could only watch as the overmatched Conner Creek squad decided at halftime to call it a night.
"This is just a bizarre season," said SSC coach Paul Walderzak. "After they had their flat tire, it took them a while before they even called us. I was afraid after the wait we'd be too loose, but it didn't turn out to matter."
The Panthers' first home game of the season Aug. 28 was cancelled when Beaverton was forced to forfeit after scheduling another game for the same night. SSC's next two games were on the road, and another forfeit would have left the Panthers with just two home games for the year.
During the wait, many of the Panthers listened to the Ogemaw Heights - Tawas Area game on the radio, while a sizable group of younger kids held an impromptu punt, pass and kick contest on the field.
When the game finally started, the stands were still two-thirds full.
Backup quarterback Trevor Trombley, making his first start at the position, ran for two 6-yard touchdowns and threw an 8-yard scoring pass to Mark Lorence, and Josh Augustine recovered a fumble in the end zone to give SSC a 28-0 lead after one quarter. Casey Potts added a 13-yard run in the second quarter, and Derek Beardsley recovered another fumble in the end zone late in the second quarter.
Trombley, usually a running back, started behind center in place of Austin Collier after Collier was ejected from last week's contest at Ogemaw Heights and received a mandatory one-game suspension. Officials assured Walderzak that the Conner Creek game counted as a played-contest.
The Eagles replaced Oscoda on SSC's schedule after the Owls' exit from the NEMC. The mismatch demonstrated how difficult it could be to find mid-season opponents when leagues are in the middle of their conference schedules. With the NEMC down to just five teams, schools must schedule four non-conference games, including one "mid-schedule" contest due to the league's odd number of teams.
"It was disappointing, because we thought they would be more competitive than that," Walderzak said. "But Austin served his time, and (injured players) Adam Gulvas and Jaron Trombley got some rest.
"Hopefully starting next week we'll start to see something normal."
The Panthers host Tawas (3-1, 1-1), which lost its first game of the season, 28-19 to Ogemaw, on Friday.