ST. JOSEPH — St. Joseph’s football team was clicking on all cylinders Friday night.
First-year Bears coach Andrew Pratley’s unbeaten team posted an easy 55-7 Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference West Division victory over outmanned Niles in a game that featured a running clock with 10:22 left in the third quarter.
“We executed on both sides of the ball a lot better than we did in our opener,” noted Pratley, whose Bears improved to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the West. “Our defense against the run was very good tonight.”
The St. Joseph defense led by defensive end senior Corbin Kalin, who had six tackles, including two sacks, and two others for lost yardage. The unit held Niles to negative-6 yards rushing. Niles’ lone touchdown, the first against a St. Joseph team since 2015, came with 7:03 left against the Bears reserves.
“Corbin Kalin (6-2, 200) is a very aggressive player from his defensive end spot,” praised Pratley, who returned nine starters on defense from a 5-5 team. “But our whole defense played very well, except for a couple long pass completions.”
Other top defenders for the Bears were Carter Vonk, Brent Huff and Riley Klaer.
The Bears’ wide-open offense, led by Pratley’s son, junior quarterback Troy, scored easily and often.
St. Joseph put three TDs on the board for a 20-0 lead after the opening period. It then added two more in both the second and third quarters for a 48-0 lead, before Niles scored on a 3-yard run by quarterback Brayden Lake. That following a 33-yard scamper by Skylar Means.
Pratley, on target most of the game, completed 13 of 19 aerials for 157 yards and four TDs to Luke Hedstrom, Griffin Shinrock, Briggs Mosher and Nick Borre. He also scored on a 5-yard run.
The Bears’ other touchdowns came on runs of 47 yards by Jeremiah Sterling, a 20-yard scamper by reserve quarterback Andy Blomgren and a 9-yard run by Dylan Kole.
“I’ve always liked a wide-open offense,” added Pratley. “I don’t know where the rumor started that I didn’t.”
St. Joseph travels to Mattawan next Friday night in another SMAC West game, before hosting arch rival Lakeshore the following week.
“Right now all we’re focused on is Mattawan,” said coach Pratley in reference to the fact that St. Joseph has lost the last seven games played against the Lancers.
Bears 55, Vikings 7
Niles 0 0 0 7 — 7
St. Joseph 20 14 14 7 — 55
SJ — Luke Hedstrom 42 pass from Troy Pratley (Brent Hull kick)
SJ — Griffin Shinrock 7 pass from Pratley (Hull kick)
SJ — Jeremiah Sterling 47 run (Huff kick)
SJ — Pratley 5 run (Huff kick)
SJ — Briggs Mosher 19 pass from Pratley (Huff kick)
SJ — Nick Borre 4 pass from Pratley (Huff kick)
SJ — Andy Blomgren 20 run (Manuel Villalobos kick)
N — Brayden Lake 3 run (Drew Gourley kick)
SJ -— Dylan Kole 9 run (Villalobos Kick)
First downs 10 23
Total net yards 160 465
Rushes-yards -6 308
Passing yards 166 157
Comp-att-int 11-17-2 13-19-0
Fumbles-lost 4-2 0-0
Penalties-yards 2-9 10-62
Punts-avg. 3-32.7 2-30.5
TOP INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
Rushing — Niles: Skylar Means 2-36. SJ - Sterling 6-99, Kole 6-49, Pratley 9-36, Johnathan Porter 7-32.
Passing — Niles: Brayden Lake 11-17-2-166. SJ: Pratley 13-19-0-157.
Receiving — Niles: Javond Bell 6-100, Jamison Zimmerman 5-66. SJ: Mosher 2-33, Sterling 2-31, Shinrock 5-26, Borre 2-20.
Tackles — Niles: Dylland Canniff 5, Matt Thompson 5. SJ: Corbin Kalin 6 (2 sacks), Carter Vonk 4.
Records — Niles 0-2, 0-1 SMAC West; St. Joseph 2-0, 1-0 (SMAC West).