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Detroit Catholic Central outruns Walled Lake Western 28-7 (Story)
Detroit Catholic Central backup running back Nazem Beydoun pumped a wicked fist into the air on a pumped up CC sideline after Keegan Koehler, the man he lost the job to, ripped off another breath taking run Thursday night at Wayne State’s Adams Field. The fist pump and scream came during the final moments of the Shamrocks 28-7 season-opening victory over star-studded Walled Lake Western.
“He’s a dog,” screamed Beydoun. “Oh my God, you can’t stop this guy.”
Everybody stood at attention for Koehler. How could you not after he raced for 243 yards on 25 carries and scored two touchdowns. Even though he was voted most outstanding player, made Division I athletes grasp and gasp for air and had teammates and fans calling his name, he still must tussle with other men for the starting running back job when CC plays again.
Koehler won a close battle against Alabama transfer Bryson Trantham for the starting job, a decision that was not made by coaches until the final scrimmage.
“He was amazing tonight,” said CC coach Dan Anderson. “We saw that in the scrimmage. He was making reads. He was a man out there. He ran it really well but there are some things we need to clean up. We are not anywhere close to where we need to be.”
Things did not begin well for Koehler. He fumbled on his first carry as Western controlled the early stages of the first quarter behind the passing of quarterback Sam Johnson (Boston College) and pass catching of Cooper Anderson and Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen. But Western failed to run the ball effectively on the Shamrocks stingy and physical defense.
The coaches did not give up on Koehler and he quickly brushed aside the fumble. He scored on first quarter touchdown runs of 10 and 6 yards after Western twice drove into CC territory but watched drives stall.
Johnson fired the ball all over the place, but often missed his target or watched his receivers drop passes. Catholic Central yielded the flanks to Western but plugged up the middle while pulling away from the Warriors.
Koehler said the entire team was pumped to face a team that bragged of having tons of Division I athletes.
“We just wanted to come out and work our butts off,” he said.
Catholic Central led just 14-7 at half time when Warrior receiver KJ Jackson scored from six yards out.
But CC dominated defensively in the second half. The light turned on for defensive end Mike Harding who pushed people around and sacked Johnson twice. He also harassed him into hurried throws which resulted in a number of incompletions and three interceptions.
Koehler hardly looks like the second coming of Barry Sanders but he and the horses up front played like the second coming of Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys offensive line.
“We just have a good group of kids who play hard together,” Anderson. “That is the way it was under (former coach) Tom Mach. That is what I learned from Tom Mach.”
Another thing passed down from Mach is nothing is guaranteed. Even if you command curtain calls after a commanding performance it does not mean you will be the leading man in the next show. Koehler showed his greatness for one magical night. Now he must prove it all over again during practices away from the public eye.
“Every week is a challenge,” Anderson said. “That’s the way it is here. It’s a challenge every week.”