Whiteford senior Joel Holtz, left, takes down Detroit Allen Academy's quarterback Tavierre Thomas during the second quarter of Friday’s second-round Division 7 contest.
OTTAWA LAKE, Mich. — The Whiteford High School football team was pretty confident it would score points in its Division 8 District Final game Friday night.
There was some question whether the Bobcats could stop, or at least slow down, the high-powered offense of Detroit Allen Academy.
The question was answered emphatically as Whiteford held the Wildcats in check until the final seconds of the first half. That allowed the Bobcats to build a 45-point cushion and cruise to a 61-20 home victory.
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“We knew we were going to be able to score some points — they had given up a lot of points all year,” Whiteford coach Jason Mensing said. “It was a matter of our defense containing their quarterback and their speed.
“That’s why I was proud of the defensive effort. I know there were a lot of points on the board, and it is easy to praise the offense. But it was the defense that played really well.”
Whiteford’s district title game victory improved its record to 9-2 as the Bobcats advance to the regional finals against New Lothrop. Detroit Allen Academy ends its season with a 7-3 mark.
The Bobcats landed a quick one-two punch in the game’s opening minutes. Whiteford needed just five plays to score after taking the opening kickoff, then recovered an onside kick and scored two plays later to lead 16-0 after two minutes.
“Our kids came out with great intensity, and they had the right mind-set to compete,” Mensing said.
Whiteford senior Zachary Perry, right, holds off Detroit Allen Academy sophomore Jason Williams, Jr., during the first quarter.
While the Whiteford ground game was clicking immediately, it was the defense that allowed the Bobcats to build a big early lead against an Allen Academy squad that had scored 426 points in its first nine games.
Whiteford limited the Wildcats to 31 yards in the first quarter, and only an 81-yard touchdown pass from Tavierre Thomas to Pikaya Ellis on the final play of the first half denied the Bobcats a first-half shutout.
“They were a very athletic team,” Whiteford cornerback Colin Lake said “We had to make sure we contained, and then we wrapped up [on our tackles].
“We knew they were fast, and they wanted to make big plays. So we tried to keep them from making big plays.”
Before that long pass Thomas had completed just 4-of-12 passes for 50 yards. Thomas also connected with Ellis on a 67-yard scoring strike in the fourth quarter, but by that point Whiteford had such a huge lead the game was being played with a running clock.
“I think we did a good job of mixing our coverages up,” Mensing said of his defense, which limited Allen Academy to its lowest point total all season. “Our defensive line also played very well.
“Nathan Wingate has done a great job of using his speed as a rush end, and Joel Holtz moved from middle linebacker to a defensive tackle position, and he’s done a great job down there. Since we moved him, our line has been getting better each week.”
Meanwhile the Bobcats had 166 yards and four rushing touchdowns in the first quarter alone, and finished with 449 yards and eight TDs on the ground. Zach Perry finished with 88 yards and two scores on six carries; Lake and Josh Beck each had 87 yards and a touchdown; and Cody Kiefer added 76 yards and two TDs.
“We have so many unselfish guys [on offense],” Lake said. “The offensive line was great, and everyone was really working as one.”
The Bobcats’ fifth straight win was the final home game for seniors Lake, Perry, Troy Diller, Holtz, and Chris Sims. Mensing said that while his senior class is small, it has had a big impact on his program.
“They’ve done a great job of leading us,” Mensing said. “They’ve also done a great job of having that mentality of making the team better every week.”
Contact John Wagner at: email@example.com, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.