BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -- The Harper Creek football team remains undefeated this year but has had to overcome a few challenges to stay that way, including the loss of running back Dawson Bartlett to injury in week three.
"You know that was a huge blow," said head coach Mike Deesorff. "Dawson is a great football player and we really built our offense around him and what he can do."
The Beavers turned to senior Noah Bauserman and junior Jalenti Hervey to pick up the slack, and they've answered the call, with some help from Bartlett on the sidelines.
"At first it was really nerve wracking, but he's been great support," Bauserman said. "He hasn't stopped playing football. He`s still giving us a ton of support and advice that makes us better every single day."
In addition to the running back, senior Jackson Malone has proved himself to be a dual threat option with his arm and his legs.
"He's been an absolute monster running the ball, " Joey Tatar added. "The other day I was on the sidelines, and I was like, Dang, Dawson, you should take off Jackson's pads and give them back to him."
But even with everyone stepping up, Bartlett's loss is still felt by the team.
"Basically when we lost Dawson, our thing was we're playing for Dawson, we're doing this for Dawson" Tatar confirmed. "So, on defense, we really knew we needed to step it up, because we lost him on offense and defense, because he's a two-way player. So we play for Dawson."
Bauserman agreed. "Every single game, the running backs get together for a breakdown and say, 'Run like Dawson.'"
The Beavers hope to continue their playoff run when they host East Lansing in a regional championship game on November 10.