This couldn’t have been a better definition of an “Oh no, Oh yes” play for Walled Lake Western, and just the opposite for Birmingham Groves.
In the final minute of the first half and Western holding a 17-14 lead, Groves decided to punt near midfield to Western kick returner Kameron Ford, who then bobbled the ball around the 10-yard line as players from Groves came sprinting towards him ready to turn Ford into minced meat in attempt to get the ball.
“I was going to catch it and the wind blew it (further away) and I was like ‘Oh, no,’ ” Ford said. “I went to go chase it down. I dropped it and it just rolled back into my hands.”
Having the ball go back into Ford’s hands wasn’t the only good development for Western on that return.
Not only did Ford get the ball back, he turned up the field, found daylight along the sideline after getting past a would-be-tackler and sprinted to near midfield.
He then cut towards the middle of the field and dashed all the way to the end zone untouched for a 90-yard punt return for a touchdown that gave Western a 24-14 lead with 33.7 seconds left in the half and produce a momentum-killer for Groves.
“That was tough,” Groves head coach Brendan Flaherty said.
Ford’s improvisation that ended up turning into a 90-yard punt return was the signature special teams play on a night where Western dominated the kicking game.
Senior kicker John Camilleri kicked field goals of 47 and 27 yards and in the third quarter pinned Groves deep by placing a punt that was downed at the Groves 1-yard line.
Groves did end up mounting a 99-yard touchdown drive after that to cut the Western lead to 27-21 before the Warriors scored less than a minute later to go back ahead, 34-21.
In addition to his punt return, Ford also returned the opening kickoff of the second half 45 yards to the Western 35-yard line, which set up the 27-yard field goal Camilleri hit to give the Warriors a 27-14 lead.
“He’s just a dynamite kid in space,” Western head coach Mike Zdebski said of Ford. “He’s had a few of those and other real close ones. He’s a kid you have to think twice about kicking to.”
Groves not only was hurt by Ford, but also on a gamble it made on special teams after taking a 6-3 lead.
The Falcons attempted a surprise onside kick, but the ball didn’t come close to traveling the 10 yards needed and went out of bounds at the Groves 44-yard line, giving Western a short field.
The Warriors ultimately capitalized on the short field and took a 10-6 lead.
For the third straight year Walled Lake Western will be represented on the Detroit Free Press All-State Football Dream Team. This is the highest individual status award given by the Michigan AP sports writers. John Camilleri becomes just the sixth player in school history to receive this prestigious honor. He joins fellow Warriors legends Scott Naz ('96), James King ('99), Lorenzo Parker ('99), Josh Jones ('12), and Kyle Bambard ('13) who all excelled at their positions. Coincidentally, Camilleri and Bambard become the first back to back kicking combo to achieve this status in Westerns storied football history. This also marks the first time a junior from Western has been named to the squad. Congrats John!
Camilleri was also named to the Detroit News Dream Team the day before the Free Press made their announcement. Read more @ http://www.detroitnews.com/story/sports/high-school/2014/12/04/detroit-news-state-dream-team/19931345/
Congrats to John Camilleri, Kyle Thomas, and on being named to the AP All-State Team.
Camilleri took First Team Honors as Kicker. Thomas was named Honorable Mention at QB and Witkowski claimed Honorable Mention as a DB. Each had a great season in helping the Warriors to their second straight KLAA conference title.