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Firing on all cylinders Western cruises past Brighton 37-7

10/23/2016, 9:00pm EDT
By Bill Khan , Livingston Daily

WLW improves to 8-1

Sure, there was a championship at stake on the final night of the regular season.

But, as much as it stung to lose 37-7 to Walled Lake Western in the KLAA Lakes Conference title game on Friday night, the Bulldogs walked off the field knowing they have more football ahead of them.

Remembering what it feels like to lose might not be such a bad thing as Brighton prepares for the single-elimination postseason tournament. It's a reminder the team would've rather received against Walled Lake Western than against its yet-to-be-determined first-round opponent.

Brighton came into the game on a six-game winning streak, going a perfect 5-0 in the KLAA West Division.

"We were on a good win streak and we were feeling good about ourselves," Brighton running back Luke Helwing said. "This just really woke us up. It shows any team can beat you at any time, and this really good team can definitely beat you at any time. It's a great wake-up call for us. I think we're going to come back Monday and be ready to go."

While the Warriors lingered on Brighton's field, celebrating their fourth straight Lakes championship, the Bulldogs were already trying to move on.

"Next week is week one for us," Brighton linebacker Jack Aigner said. "So, we're already looking ahead."

Facing an opponent like Western, the Bulldogs got an indication of the level of competition they're likely to encounter at some point in the playoffs. Then again, they might have to go pretty deep into the postseason to face a team as good as the Warriors, the No. 3-ranked team in Division 2.

"They're a terrific team," Brighton coach Brian Lemons said. "Everyone that makes the playoffs, for the most part, is going to be pretty darn good. Our boys just have to get their heads back on straight and come to practice on Monday ready to go."

Western is 27-1 in its last 28 games within the Lakes Conference. The Warriors' only loss in an 8-1 season came by forfeit after they won 41-14 over Farmington in the season opener.

"We wanted to be the best team in the history of the KLAA, because this is the last championship game," Western coach Mike Zdebski said. "I think we solidified that, because we've won four in a row; the next closest was two."

Kyle Sanderson of Brighton eludes a Walled Lake Western

Kyle Sanderson of Brighton eludes a Walled Lake Western defender. (Photo: Gillis Benedict/Livingston Daily)

The Bulldogs were forced to play catch-up the entire night after the Warriors scored touchdowns on their first two possessions of the game, both on passes from Johnny Tracy to Michigan State recruit Cody White. A 36-yard pass from Tracy to White capped a three-play, 80-yard opening drive. Tracy then hit White from 14 yards out to make it 13-0 with 7:52 left in the first quarter.

"They came out hot," Helwing said. "That's something  we stressed in the locker room not to let them do, because they've got all those athletic  guys. We knew they were going to come out fast and hard."

The Brighton defense settled in and kept Western out of the end zone the rest of the first half, allowing just a field goal. The Bulldogs came close to getting on the board before halftime when quarterback Cameron Tullar scrambled 10 yards on the final play of the half, only to be tackled inside the 1-yard line as time expired.

The Warriors put the game away by scoring on their first three possessions of the second half. Tracy's 36-yard touchdown pass to Kameron Ford made it 23-0 with 5:46 left in the third quarter.


Quarterback rotation works seamlessly for Brighton

Brighton's only touchdown came on a 6-yard run by quarterback Will Jontz with 3:42 left in the third quarter, cutting Western's lead to 23-7.

Tracy's fourth touchdown pass of the night was White's third touchdown reception, a 12-yarder with 11:27 remaining in the game. Jalen Marshall tacked on a 6-yard touchdown run with 1:23 to go in the game.

"We've faced good receivers all year," said Brighton safety Sam Williamson, who had an interception. "We had a couple missed assignments here and there. I don't think we played our best coverage. We did the best we could; we played our hearts out. They're a good team; I give them credit."

White caught nine passes for 117 yards and three touchdowns. Tracy was 19-for-28 for 288 yards, four touchdowns and an interception.

Tullar was 10-for-21 for 160 yards and an interception.

Tag(s): News  Walled Lake Western  WLW JV  WLW Freshmen