In a rivalry game, if you let your opponent hang around, sometimes it comes back to bite you. In Friday’s match-up between Walled Lake Western and Walled Lake Central, it looked like that might be the case early on as the Warriors were moving the ball but could only muster a 7-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
Then, with just over five minutes left in the half, the Warriors exploded for 21 points and cruised to a 42-0 victory over the Vikings.
Central looked to mix things up early as it executed and recovered an onside kick on the opening kickoff, but the Western defense forced Central into a three-and-out.
On its second possession of the night, Western took the ball at its own 22-yard line and marched down the field in just under three minutes to put the first points on the board. The drive was capped by a 1-yard touchdown run by Sam Johnson and the Warriors had a 7-0 lead with 1:09 left in the first quarter.
The Western defense held Central at bay on the next drive, but a Warrior fumble gave the Vikings some life down by only seven with 6:59 left in the first half. Another short offensive series and a short punt handed the ball back to the Warriors on the Central 36-yard line.
Western then started to do what it does best, score. The first play from scrimmage after the short punt was a 36-yard touchdown strike to Justin Thomas to give the Warriors a 14-0 lead. Another Warrior defensive stop gave Western the ball at its on 46-yard line with 2:45 left and the Warriors immediately scored on a 54-yard strike from Johnson to Thomas again, extending the Warrior lead to 21-0 with 2:37 left in the half.
The Warriors weren’t done with the first half, however, as they got the ball back one last time and pushed the ball into the end zone. Johnson fumbled the ball into the end zone and it was promptly covered by Yaseen Abdur-Rahmann for the score to put Western up 28-0.
The second half was more of the same as the Warriors held the Vikings scoreless and added two additional scores of their own -- one on a 36-yard run by Kevin Jackson and the second on a 13-yard Johnson pass to Abdur-Rahmann.
Preparation was the key to Friday’s victory. Western head coach Mike Zdebski gave his staff a lot of credit. “The coaches did a great job of setting up the game plan tonight.”
When it was mentioned that sometimes it looked like his Warrior team knew what the play was before Central even did, coach Zdebski answered, “We did. Our coaches were calling them out on the sidelines.”
On the night, Johnson was 9-of-15 passing for 208 yards and three touchdowns through the air and another score on the ground. Kevin Jackson carried the ball eight times for 123 yards and a score while Justin Thomas had four catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Rounding out the Warrior offensive effort was Abdur-Rahmann with five catches for 80 yards with one receiving and one rushing touchdown.
The win moves Walled Lake Western to 8-1 on the season and a home playoff game next week while the loss drops Walled Lake Central to 5-4 on the season and awaiting the selection show on Sunday night to see if they have the opportunity to continue their season.