With only one offensive starter — third-year center Matt Mulcahy — back from a record-setting 2011, no one was expecting Grand Haven to put up 30 in their season opener. It took awhile for quarterback Michael Penland to find a rhythm in his first varsity start, but the 6-3, 180 senior discovered it at the right time. He led the Buccaneers on a 64-yard drive in the game’s closing minutes, ultimately connecting with senior Jake Lovett for a 17-14 win over Traverse City Central, Friday at Grand Haven. TC Central missed a 46-yard field goal attempt in the closing seconds.
*Grand Haven’s Isaak Newhouse, a 6-0, 185 junior, has been labeled the heir apparent to all-state receiver Danny Cotter, now at Butler. He caught one touchdown, but in this game Newhouse’s major impact came on the defensive side. He straight out yanked away a TD pass from the hands of a TC Central receiver late in the first half. Earlier, he showed off his tackling skills by stoning one-on-one TJ Schepperly, the Trojans’ shifty senior QB. Offensively, Newhouse got a good break off the line and showed requisite straight-line speed for the position.
*The breakout player for Traverse City Central was 6-3, 210 outside linebacker Mitchell Wynkoop. You won’t find this junior on any recruiting charts now, but that will change. He twice stopped Grand Haven running backs behind the line of scrimmage, and in the third quarter laid a hit on Penland that resulted in an interception. Wynkoop was strong in coverage against the Bucs’ tight end, 6-4, 215 senior Anthony Perrier, but was a bit stiff and upright dropping back with wide receivers. That said, no passes were completed on him.
*In his quarterback debut, Penland finished 14-of-31 passing for 184 yards. The man getting him the ball, Mulcahy, is a smart, tough two-way player at 5-11, 210. In addition to his duties at center, from linebacker he led Grand Haven with 10 tackles.
*6-7, 280 senior Tyler Gildersleeve was impressive at right tackle for Traverse City Central. He has an explosive lower body and good reach. Rare for the O-K Red, Grand Haven is a finesse team and had no one who could physically match up with Gildersleeve, and despite his lack of upper body strength he repeatedly mauled them in the running game. Liked how he always kept the legs churning. Right tackle is a good fit for Gildersleeve, as he doesn’t have the nimble feet for the left side. With improved strength and awareness in the passing game, and he could go MAC on signing day.
*Schepperly makes good things happen with his legs. He’s be even more dangerous if the Trojans had a power running game to set up his jaunts around the end, but he made do. At 5-8, 175, quarterback is obviously not his natural position, but he’s a tough, rah-rah, team-first type who can rally his guys and get them going. TJ looked good on punt returns, which could be his ticket to the next level.