The Student News Site of East Lansing High School

Portrait

The Student News Site of East Lansing High School

Portrait

The Student News Site of East Lansing High School

Portrait

Rolling into the playoffs

After early losses, varsity football wins out in regular season
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Photo by Maggie Carney
Jace Clarizio (11) Player of the game stands on the sideline from the win aga White Lake Lakeland on Nov. 3

In week one, East Lansing’s offense looked weak. Their play looked as if they had not come back together without last year’s leaders. The week after, Hudsonville was able to capitalize on East Lansing’s offensive disorganization. After the losses, the team was determined they could not keep losing.

After a major departure by a senior quarterback at the end of last season, East Lansing was left with a number of questions concerning who would take over for Dalen Adams (‘23). There were two candidates for the position, the first being last year’s backup, Andrew Watters (12). 

However, after some questionable play in the first two weeks of the season, he was benched for Ben Fletcher (11). When Fletcher took over the role, he had some concerns and nerves about his play–but after a quality win over Okemos, much of his misgivings washed away as he led a dominant offense for the rest of the regular season. 

“I feel like it was a big adjustment,” Fletcher said. “You know, the first two games I didn’t start and when I ended up playing so that was big [for me].”

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At the start of the season, a number of players were either injured or coming off injuries. Derrick White (12) had surgery on his wrist and had to make a major adjustment to playing exclusively defense.

“I’ve kind of accepted the fact I’m not going to be able to do exactly what I’ve done before,” White said. “But it’s nice knowing I’ve kind of got past all the bad stuff.”

One of last year’s breakout stars, Jace Clarizio (11), came into the year injured, which looked like it would cause trouble for the Trojans. However, another high-energy, high-power running back, Dwataye Sams Jr. (11), came in and helped to make up much of the power Clarizio had last year. When Clarizio came back against DeWitt, both he and Sams put up great numbers.

“I definitely have a chip on my shoulder,” Clarizio said. “I’m just trying to get better every single week.” 

Even after the Okemos win, score-aggregator Goosepoop.io still projected East Lansing to finish with a record of 3-6.  Luckily for East Lansing, they had a major game in week four against DeWitt. To beat DeWitt, East Lansing would need to make some major adjustments to their play to ensure they didn’t slip back to how they’d been playing before. 

“Going into week four, we realized we needed to make some changes, not just on the field, but also off the field and really, to ourselves,” Watters said.

At halftime, East Lansing led DeWitt 24-21. After this point, East Lansing scored 16 points to bring the score to 40-28. DeWitt scored one more time to make it 40-36, which ended up being the final score. It was only the second loss handed to DeWitt all season.

With a triumph against DeWitt in the books, East Lansing rolled with big wins against Grand Blanc, Lansing Everett, Waverly and Holt. After defeating Holt, East Lansing clinched a share of the CAAC Blue title with only one game remaining against Grand Ledge.

On Oct. 20, East Lansing beat Grand Ledge and claimed the outright CAAC blue title.

Into the playoffs the following week, East Lansing played Lansing Everett again and beat them 42-20 to get to the second round of the playoffs. In the second round, East Lansing played White Lake Lakeland and won their second consecutive district championship with a 35-7 thanks to a solid defense with linemen like Gus Greenwalt (11) holding down the fort. On Friday, East Lansing will play against Byron Center for the regional title at home on Nov. 10. 

“I think we just got to continue playing good and we’ll have a good shot,” Greenwalt said.

The game will be played at home at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased through GoFan.co and aren’t covered by the traditional athletic passes. 

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About the Contributor
Joseph Powers, Staff Writer
Joseph Powers is a member of the Class of 2024 and one of the staff writers for Portrait. This is his second year on staff as a senior. Joseph’s favorite thing about journalism is crossword puzzles, he does the Wall Street Journal every day he remembers to. In what free time he has he spends it thinking of public policy and some other stuff.

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