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Chippewa Valley continues their post-season dominance with 28-16 win over Belleville (Story by: Terry Foster)
Players from Chippewa Valley ran across the Troy Athens High School field as if their pants were on fire after a satisfying 28-16 victory over Belleville (12-1) Saturday that places them in the Division I state finals at Ford Field against Clarkston, a spot they felt they should have been in last season.
During that moment of triumph they thought of their fans and the ebbs and flows of a 13-0 season. They even made a “Bad Boys” chant and thought of the one number that brought great pain and motivation.
That’s how many seconds away the Big Reds were from winning a regional finals game against Detroit Cass Tech last season. But a late Detroit Cass Tech drive and final second dive erased the Chippewa Valley lead and knocked the Big Reds out of the tournament, 32-26.
Players vowed to not allow a game to come down to one drive if they were in this position again. Like Cass Tech, Belleville scored a touchdown in the final minute. But CV was so far ahead that it didn’t matter much.
Chippewa Valley has made a habit of landing knock out punches. It has won 10 of its 13 games by double digits, including all four state playoff games.
Quarterback Tommy Schuster was on fire in the first half, as he fired three touchdown passes leading CV to a 21-10 half time lead. He was 9-for-12 passing for 174 yards. Two of his scores went to David Ellis and the third was by Martice Bunting, which opened the scoring.
The defense took over in the second half, forcing Bellville quarterback Christian Dhlue-Reid (15-32, 246 yards and two touchdowns) to miss on six of his first seven passes in the second half and allowed just a meaningless touchdown after the game was already decided.
“Our defense came together in the locker room,” said linebacker Jonathan Zak, who had one interception. “We prayed. We talked to each other about how far we’ve come. I think it was just a matter of who wanted it more.”
By the time Belleville mounted its scoring drive Chippewa Valley was comfortably ahead 28-10.
Chippewa Valley (13-0) faces defending champion Clarkston (11-2) in Saturday’s 1 p.m. final at Ford Field.
This allows Coach Scott Merchant to realize his dream of hosting Thanksgiving dinner with his team while preparing for the finals game.
In case anyone forgot last year’s bitter defeat Merchant hung up a laminated sheet of paper in the weight room with the score of the Cass Tech game and the number 6.8.
“Every second counts. Every play counts,” Merchant said.
Said Zak: “We were able to taste that sour taste of losing to Cass Tech. Coach reminded us of how close we were to going. Once we got to the MAC championship game we knew we could go all the way if we kept our offense going and our defense going.”