Much anticipated matchup
Walled Lake Western traveled to South Lyon on Friday night to play their fourth straight road game to open up the 2020 season. The Warriors and Lions have split the past two contests with Western winning 40-10 last year and South Lyon taking the 2018-game 12-7. In both seasons, the winner of the Western/South Lyon game went on to capture the LVC crown. The Western faithful are hoping that this is the case again this fall after the “Road Warriors” topped the Lions 35-24 in a hard fought LVC-battle.
Lions strike first
After a strong defensive series, the Lions forced a Warriors’ punt on the first possession of the night for Western. South Lyon sent junior Quinn Fracassi deep to receive Max Mouranie’s kick and the speedster wasted no time finding the end zone as he sprinted 60 yards across the goal line for the game’s first score. After a successful two-point conversion, South Lyon led 8-0 with 10:12 left in the quarter.
Time to Regroup
With the leadership of its seniors, Western did not panic and the Warriors bounced back quickly. Senior quarterback and “Mr. Football” candidate Zach Trainor connected with fellow senior wide receiver Justin Gabriel for a 61-yard touchdown strike. After junior Adam Lampela split the uprights, Western trailed 8-7 with 9:45 left in the opening quarter.
Defense wins championships
The Warriors’ defense led by seniors Val Savaya, Jake Dzialowski, Jonathan Abele, Al Schram, Alex Gasiorowski, Carson Barringer, and juniors Aidan Vaughan, Zack Gammo, and Max Mouranie has started to click as a unit in recent games. Friday night was no different as the Western-D forced a South Lyon three-and-out on the Lions’ second series of the game. Abele would then return a Lions’ punt to the South Lyon 40-yard line to set up the Warriors’ second score of the contest.
After a first down toss to Gabriel for 16-yards, the Warriors found themselves in the red zone. On the next play, Trainor hit sophomore wide receiver Darius Taylor for a 24-yard touchdown pass give Western its first lead of the night. The Warriors would lead 14-8 at the end of the first quarter and would never trail the Lions again.
The defense would step up twice more in the first half. First with a fourth and goal stop with the Lions knocking on the door at the Warriors’ three-yard line, and later in the second quarter, when South Lyon rolled the dice again, deciding to go it on fourth and one on the Warriors’ 34-yard line. A tribe of Warriors stuffed the Lions’ ball carrier as Western forced another turnover on downs. South Lyon would manage to score on a 26-yard field goal by senior Chris Chinavare before the half and both teams headed to the break with Western on top 14-11.
Scoop and score
It was the Warriors’ defense again that got things going quickly in the second half, forcing a South Lyon fumble after a pass completion. The ball did not lay on the carpet for long before Mouranie scooped it up and sprinted 30-yards to pay dirt to put the Warriors up two scores again, 21-11 with 11:47 in the third quarter.
Both teams exchanged punts before South Lyon pulled within one score again when senior Jack Petsch caught a 28-yard touchdown pass to cut the deficit to 21-17 at the end of the third quarter.
Western would go on to score 14-unanswered points in the game’s final stanza as Trainor would find tailback Pierce Muthui-Edwards for a three-yard touchdown pass and later would hook up again with Gabriel for a 54-yard bomb to put the game out of reach at 35-17. South Lyon would score a late touchdown when junior quarterback Dawson Skupin connected with junior Colin Stewart for a 9-yard touchdown pass with twenty-five seconds left to play. Western put its “hands-team” on the field for the onside kick, and sophomore Wil Ludwig recovered the pigskin to secure the 35-24 victory.
Pacing the Warriors’ offensively was Trainor who threw for a school record 429 yards (29-35) and four touchdown passes. Muthui-Edwards, in his first start at tailback for the Warriors rushed for 109 yards on 17 carries and caught 5 passes for 62 yards and a score. Gabriel had a career-high 11 catches for 133 yards and two touchdowns, and Taylor hauled in nine passes for 103 yards and a touchdown. Abele had another strong game, playing both ways and catching six passes for 71 yards, and Lampela was a perfect 5-for-5 on extra point attempts.
Week 5 Home Opener
With the victory, Western is tied with Lakeland for the top spot in the LVC as both teams are 3-0 in the conference. Western (3-1, 3-0 LVC) will host district rival Walled Lake Northern next week in the first home game of the season for the Warriors with a 7:00 PM kickoff at Dick Watson Field.