LOWELL - Walled Lake Western traveled to Lowell to kick off the 2015 high school season Thursday night. The game featured two perennial football powers in the state, and a rematch of the 2011 state semifinal game between the Red Arrows and Warriors.
The Warriors and Red Arrows battled like heavyweight contenders, matching each other blow by blow until Western delivered the knockout punch in the game’s final three minutes. Western quarterback Kyle Thomas hit fellow senior Jake Prokes on a screen pass for the game’s final score, giving the Warriors the 42-40 victory, and handing the Red Arrows its first season-opening defeat since 1993.
The game was deadlocked at 14-14 at the half. Lowell jumped out to a 27-14 lead midway through the third quarter, and it looked like the Red Arrows were going to pull away. However, the Warriors battled back to pull within a touchdown and trailed 27-21 at the end of the third.
The fourth quarter was a back and forth battle and it was obvious that the team with the football last was going to be victorious, as 34 points were scored in the final stanza.
Western’s defense led by Jackson Neracher, Darnell Lanier, Tyler Shreve, David Langmeyer, Rob Hudson, and Javon Gabriel made a key defensive stop to force the Red Arrows to turn the ball over on downs and allow the Warriors to run out the clock to seal the victory.
Lowell quarterback Ryan Stevens threw for over 300 yards on the night and hit Gabe Steed on a 75-yard touchdown to give the Red Arrows a 40-36 lead before the Warriors came storming back. Stevens connected with Steed for three scores.
Thomas (22-32) threw for 345 and three touchdowns for the Warriors. The dual threat also scrambled for 46 yards on the ground and added another touchdown. The versatile Thomas spread the ball around for the Warriors, helping to keep things balanced for the Western offense utilizing several Western receivers on the night.
Zdebski spoke highly of his senior signal caller.
"In the second half, Thomas really settled down," he said. "He was completing the short routes and the easy throws. Even when we were down, he was keeping all of the kids' chins up. Kyle was keeping the offense focused on the next series and the next play. He did a great job leadership-wise tonight. He worked very hard to get ready for this game."
Junior slot-receiver Kam Ford finished with 109 yards receiving (7-109) and a touchdown, and junior Cody White had four receptions for 92 yards while fighting through double-coverage the majority of the night.
White made an impressive over the shoulder catch on a fine throw from Thomas down the sideline on a key third-down conversion for the Warriors in the fourth quarter. Thomas also connected with his younger brother, Justin on a twelve yard pass play, giving the sophomore his first career reception as a Warrior.
Jake Prokes found the end zone four times for the Warriors, scoring two touchdowns on the ground and two through the air. He also caught a key two-point conversion from Thomas in the final quarter. The senior tailback also was an integral part of Western's passing game as a blocker, giving Thomas the time and room to make plays throughout the game.
Ford, Gabriel, and White also played defensively for the Warriors. White, working double duty made a remarkable interception of a deep throw by Stevens in the third quarter.
Senior all-state kicker John Camilleri hit big extra points for the Warriors (5-6 on the night). More importantly, Camilleri pinned the Red Arrows deep in their own territory with twice with punts and with four touchbacks, giving the Western defense a breather at key times.
The Warriors will play on the road next Thursday as they travel to Plymouth Salem in a KLAA crossover.
Tag(s): News Walled Lake Western WLW JV WLW Freshmen