FRUITPORT – If the Fruitport football team has had a strength this season, it’s been the offense.
The Trojans give up a lot of points, but until last week they were scoring quite a few, as well.
That changed last Friday against undefeated Allendale, and one factor played a very big role.
Junior quarterback Bradon Dornbos, who has been developing nicely all season, was out due to a bunch of injuries incurred in a Week 4 loss to Holland Christian.
With no Dornbos, and several other skill players taking turns at quarterback, the offense sputtered and Fruitport fell 68-7.
“With Braden out we had to make some adjustments,” said Fruitport head coach Nate Smith. “We had a handful of guys playing quarterback. But ultimately (Allendale was) much stronger up front on the line, and when that’s the case, it doesn’t really matter who’s playing quarterback.”
The good news is that Dornbos is completely healthy again and will be under center when the 0-5 Trojans host Hudsonville Unity Christian on Friday in another O-K Blue conference matchup.
That will allow other important playmakers like Kayden Beardsley and DayDay Williams, who both took some snaps and QB last week, to go back to their usual positions and give the Trojans a more potent attack.
When everyone is healthy and the offense is clicking, opposing defenses have reason to be cautious about the Trojans.
Fruitport scored 22 points in Week 2 against Grand Rapids Christian, 20 the next week against Hamilton and 27 in Week 4 against Holland Christian.
“We had quarterback-by-committee last week, based on each of their skill sets, but when you have any of those guys calling the plays, that takes away from other things we can do,” Smith said. “Bradon is healthy now and we’re hoping things will go in a better direction on Friday night.”
Despite the painful loss, Smith credited all the players who stepped up to fill in for Dornbos at various points in the game, including two young quarterbacks who are not even technically on the varsity squad yet.
“Our JV quarterback, Justin Woodard, stepped in and completed a few passes in the third quarter, then in the fourth quarter our freshman quarterback Brady Hanson stepped in,” the coach said. “I think he’s only 14 or 15.
“The beauty of our system is that they know all of our plays and we were pretty much able to still run the heart of our offense. They deserve a lot of credit for having the courage to step onto the varsity football field in that situation.”
The Trojans’ biggest issues this season have involved stopping teams from scoring. The defense was pretty solid in Week 1, only allowing 18 points against Kenowa Hills, but since then the Trojans have allowed 37, 44, 64 and 68 points.
Life will not get any easier this Friday for the Fruitport defenders. Unity Christian may be off to a not-so-great 1-4 start, but the Crusaders have still lit up the scoreboard, scoring 28, 33, 28, 27 and 31 points, respectively, in their first five games.
Unity Christian also has a history of scoring a lot against Fruitport. They have beaten the Trojans for three straight years, 60-46 in a shootout last season, 55-13 in 2021 and 51-0 in 2020.
“You can look at their record, but they still put points up,” Smith said. “They are an offensive team. It doesn’t matter what you give them defensively, they’ve seen it all at some point and know how to adjust.