Usually run-first Westwood Patriots go through air to slam Bark River-Harris Broncos, 50-8
HARRIS — A crisp night in Harris was complemented by a crisp night of passing by the usually run-oriented Westwood offense as the Patriots tripped up Bark River-Harris 50-8 on Friday night.
Patriots’ coach Scott Syrjala was happy to get the win with the season winding down as his team improves to 7-1. He was also complimentary of the Broncos, who slipped to 5-3.
“It was nice to be able to come and maybe jump on them a little bit and get after them a little bit,” Syrjala said. “But, I tell you what, Coach Stenberg’s got a heck of a team. We knew that. We knew that going in, they were tough.”
The Broncos got off to a good start by forcing the Patriots to punt on their first possession. However, it would be Westwood drawing first blood with a 57-yard touchdown pass from Zachary Beckman to Zachary Carlson followed by a successful 2-point conversion and an 8-0 lead.
That 57-yarder was only Beckman’s third-longest pass of the night as he also had a 73-yarder to Marcus Boase and a 64-yard TD to Luke Olson. Overall, Beckman was a modest 10 of 14, but he gained a whopping 281 yards with an interception and three TDs through the air to go with two rushing.
Boase finished with three TDs, two of them on the ground, which was significant considering he only carried the ball two times on runs of 65 and 6 yards.
Teammate Garrett Sundberg had five receptions for 70 yards, while Beckman made two catches for 67 yards and a TD.
Westwood spread around its rushing attack as Carlson finished with 89 yards on 10 carries, including a 50-yarder, while Jayce Arsenau had 76 yards in five carries that includes jaunts of 41 and 26 yards.
For the Patriots, Syrjala was impressed with how Arseneau, a sophomore, performed on both sides of the ball.
“I’m really happy with Jayce Arseneau,” he said. “He’s struggled this year. He’s had to come up out of necessity, and he’s had to fill some big shoes with Travis Uren being out and play a big role.
“He’s not overly big, (but) he’s fairly strong, and he’s got good speed and he’s starting to trust himself. … I thought he did one heck of a job.”
Westwood outgained the Broncos 541-146, with a pair of Bark River QBs completing just 4 of 15 passes for 67 yards.
Bark River’s sole TD came in the second quarter on a sprint into the end zone by Tristan Halfaday with Trevor Lippens — who punctuated the first half with an interception — breaking through the line for the two-point conversion.
The Broncos had several other positive moments throughout the night, such as a 24-yard pass to convert on an early first-quarter third down from Ethan Ives to Kavin Frederick.
Coming into the game, the Broncos knew that Westwood posed a major challenge as injuries have hurt BR-H in some areas.
“I thought we played relatively well early,” Bark River coach Al Stenberg said. “We stopped them on the first drive, which I was pleased with, and then responded well after they scored on us.
“We had a few key injuries that really made us lose our bearings defensively in the defensive backfield, and they just instantly exploited them based on the fact that Coach (Brad) Wiljanen and Coach Syrjala are just great coaches, and they see where your weakness is.
“They hit us a couple times real quick before we could make some adjustments. Even after we made them, we just didn’t have the horses to compete with their backs.”
Up next for both teams are big regular season-ending games.
For Westwood, the season comes to a close at home against West PAC rival Negaunee on Friday.
The Broncos head to Ishpeming to battle the Hematites for West PAC Iron Division supremacy on Thursday. Both Bark River and Ishpeming are undefeated in their division.