West Ottawa vs. East Kentwood preview


Eli Bartels

On Friday, October 7, the West Ottawa Panthers will face off against the Falcons of East Kentwood. The match up will be the Panther’s homecoming game and the first time the teams face this season. East Kentwood, coming off a 0-29 loss to Caledonia, is 2-2, making them 3rd in the OK-Red. The Panthers beat Grand Haven last Friday 35-14, upping their record to 1-3, placing them 7th in the OK-Red. Overall, both teams are 3-3, sharing the same record. Last year, the Panthers took a 37-20 loss from the Falcons. But West Ottawa is not the same football team as last year.  

   The Panthers won their first two games this year against Northview and Portage Northern, jump-starting their football program back to life after not winning a game for almost three years. The new winning style of the Panthers brought fans together and motivated players to continue with their already successful season. 

   Panther Coach Pat Collins describes how his team needs to perform to win this Friday. “East Kentwood brings in a team that has a 3 and 3 record but has posted a win against Brother Rice, who beat the number one team in the state. They are very talented and play very good defense, and have shown well against some of the best teams in the state. We have our work cut out for us moving the ball and putting points on the board,” said Collins. 

   The Falcons are known for their strong defense, which has been a key to their success throughout this season. “We will have to match their physicality and play efficient football. Although we have had a decent season, we still need to put together four quarters of football to beat the Falcons,” said Collins. “Really this season has been about us in our development as a team and program. Our team this week must be a better team than it was last week, and that’s the difference we should see on the field in order to win the game. Continuing to grow as a team will be essential for victory.”

   The Falcons share a similar story, this year being their best season since 2019. The Falcon’s overall record in 2019 was 6-5, with a league record of 3-3. In 2020 East Kentwood had a league record of 1-3, placing them 5th in the OK-Red, and in 2021, they finished 6th in the OK-Red with a 2-5 record. The Falcons are bouncing back this year. On September 6 they beat the Brother Rice Warriors with a field goal, final score 19-17. Two weeks later, Brother Rice continued on to beat the then-number-one team in the state, De La Salle Collegiate, 43-42. This impressive win over Brother Rice was the spark East Kentwood needed, moving forward with the season to win their first two league games against Grand Haven and Jenison. 

   East Kentwood coach Tony Kimbrough, shared his thoughts on Friday’s match. “I worry about all aspects of our opponent. West Ottawa is coached extremely well. So, we have to be sound in all 3 phases.” 

   So far, West Ottawa has totaled 517 passing yards, 1103 rushing yards, and 581 receiving yards. Kimbrough also mentioned what the Falcons need to execute to beat the Panthers. “We have struggled in our last two games to score points. We have to be good on first down to sustain drives. We have many areas that we feel that we have to be solid in order to win this game. If I had to focus on one, it would be our offense. Again, getting positive yardage on first down is vital to have success,” Kimbrough said.

   With both teams sharing the same overall record, this Friday’s matchup will be nothing short of a competitive game.