OTTAWA LAKE, Mich. — The Whiteford football team expected its first playoff game to be a battle Friday night.
But a combination of opponent injuries, a fast start, and a physical style of play allowed the Bobcats to enjoy a 59-6 romp over Sterling Heights Parkway Christian in a Michigan Division 8 first-round playoff game.
Whiteford (8-2) will face the winner of today’s Detroit Allen Academy-Lenawee Christian contest in the second round.
Parkway Christian ended the season 5-5.
The Bobcats jumped on top quickly, recovering a “pooch” kickoff on Parkway Christian’s 25 and scoring two plays later on a five-yard run by Colin Lake.
“Early in the game, when we got the short field and a touchdown, we got some momentum,” Whiteford coach Jason Mensing said. “At that point that momentum continued to roll for us.”
The Bobcats got a fourth-down stop on the Eagles’ first possession and drove 53 yards on six plays, with Zachary Perry capping the drive with a five-yard TD run.
Whiteford scored on the second play of the second quarter as Perry caught a seven-yard strike from John Reditt, the first of four touchdowns that made the score 44-0 at the half.
Perry scored three times in three different ways. Besides the touchdown reception, he scored on a 47-yard interception return and a five-yard run. The interception and return brought the biggest smile to the senior’s face.
“All I did was make sure I stayed in the middle of the field and stayed deeper than the receivers,” said Perry, who plays safety for the Bobcats. “Then I can just come up and make plays.”
Whiteford’s big halftime advantage was built on the back of its power running game, which in the first half rolled to 191 yards on just 23 carries.
“We were running the ball and getting big yardage every play,” Perry said. “That really gave us confidence against their defense.
“Give every single yard to our line. They did an amazing job.”
Mensing was pleased by his team’s physical play.
“The first thing we work on each week is our power off-tackle play and our counter game off of that,” he said. “When that’s what you work on and focus on, you expect to come out and perform it well.”
Lake added a 12-yard TD run in the second quarter and finished with 107 yards on just seven carries, while Perry added 49 yards and Josh Beck 40.
“Colin is small, so he gets a bad rap for not being physical,” Mensing said of the 5-foot-8 Lake. “He’s a physical little sucker. He’s a tough kid who plays downhill.”
Whiteford also benefited when several Parkway Christian standouts were injured. Senior running back Nathan Schick injured his ankle in pregame warmups, and senior Phillip Lapinski suffered a dislocated finger in the second quarter.
“When their guys got hurt, I think that caused them to not play as well as they have this year,” Mensing said. “I think that was an advantage for us.
“They had some hardship — and that was fortunate for us.”
The only disappointment for the Bobcats was that their defensive reserves were unable to preserve the shutout.
Whiteford ran its starters back onto the field when the Eagles got the ball to the 5-yard line, but Noah Allen threw a TD pass to Josiah McLain on the second play of the final quarter.
“I’m a very competitive human being, and I wanted our kids to enjoy that success — so yes, I wanted the shutout,” Mensing said. “When the ball was on the 5, I thought that was the time to [put them back on the field].
“Credit to them for making plays and scoring there.”
Contact John Wagner at: firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6481, or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.