November 27, 2010

Six championship stories told Saturday

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On Saturday, seven teams in the RivalsHigh 100 across the country played for state titles.

At the end of the day, five of those teams earned the right to be called champion.

Each of the six title games held its own unique story, creating its own unique piece of high school football history.

Here's a look at those six stories.

The encore performance

Michigan D3: No. 52 East Grand Rapids 35, Orchard Lake St. Mary's 27

For the second time in a row and third time in four years, East Grand Rapids (Mich.) High defeated Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary's in the Division 3 title game at Ford Field, winning 35-27.

The Pioneers (14-0) won their fifth straight title, tying a state record, and their seventh in nine years.

"Every one of these titles has been a little different, and this one is unique because it puts us in the record books," said East Grand Rapids coach Peter Stuursma, who improved to 129-13 in his 11-season career.

In the past, the Pioneers have won championships with dominant running games, but when their ground game stalled against St. Mary's, they turned to quarterback Ryan Elble. The senior threw four touchdown passes and ran for another score.

"The running game wasn't working, so I had to take responsibility for the game," Elble said. "I was able to hit some passes, and I got enough holes that I was able to make a couple plays with my legs."

Elble broke a 14-14 tie with a 7-yard pass to Nick Mulhall with 25 seconds to play in the first half, and the pair teamed up again for a 26-yard score in the third quarter. Grant Niemeic's second touchdown pulled St. Mary's within 28-20, but Elble hit Deon Jobe for a 10-yard score with 7:12 to play.

"This rivalry is a great thing for both schools and for the state," Eaglets coach George Porritt said. "Hopefully, we'll eventually win one of these. Just not today."

The game sealed with a kick

Missouri Class 6: No. 67 Rockhurst 10, No. 100 Hazelwood Central 7

Griffin Bins hit a 21-yard field goal late in the third quarter to lift No. 67 Kansas City (Mo.) Rockhurst to a 10-7 win over No. 100 Florissant (Mo.) Hazelwood Central at the Edward Jones Dome.

Rockhurst (14-0) won its ninth title and moved into second place behind Jefferson City and Valle Catholic of Ste. Genevieve, who have 10 titles apiece.

Hazelwood Central (13-1), the two-time defending state champion, had a 19-game winning streak snapped.

Rockhurst was making its 14th appearance and last won the championship in 2007.

Central, looking for its sixth title, entered the game averaging 30.4 points per game.

Rockhurst rallied from a 7-0 deficit on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Frank Arbanas to Nicholas Tyson midway through the third quarter.

The wire-to-wire champion

Illinois 7A: No. 20 Wheaton Warrenville South 28, Lake Zurich 17

At the beginning of the season, Wheaton (Ill.) Wheaton Warrenville South was the odds-on favorite in Illinois.

At the end of the season, the Tigers were still on top and raising the championship trophy.

Reilly O'Toole threw for two scores and Matt Rogers ran for two more as Wheaton Warrenville South outlasted Lake Zurich (Ill.) High 28-17 for the IHSA Class 7A title.

The back-and-forth game finally turned in the Tigers' favor late in the fourth quarter with a Matt Rogers 1-yard touchdown run that made the score 21-17.

The game looked like it would turn again, but a holding call brought back a long Jacob Brinlee run inside the Tigers' 3-yard line.

The next play, quarterback Zach Till fumbled after scrambling away from a sack.

Brinlee set the Class 7A title-game record for rushing yards with 226 for Lake Zurich, which totaled 344 yards rushing but just 21 passing.

The first-time winner

Indiana 5A: No. 90 Fishers 38, Lawrence Central 19

Koby Orris threw four touchdown passes and Taylor Halstead had four sacks to help Fishers (Ind.) High defeat Lawrence (Ind.) Lawrence Central 38-19 in the Class 5A final at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Orris passed for 191 yards and intercepted a pass on defense. Dakota Slaughter had six catches for 90 yards and a score for the Tigers (14-1), who won in their first finals appearance. The school closed in 1966 and re-opened in 2006.

"These guys have been absolutely fantastic," Fishers coach Rick Wimmer said. "We've had a great run of kids for five years and each year, each team has just taken us a little further. For this team, it was their year. It was their time."

Lawrence Central quarterback Tre Roberson was under pressure the entire game. The Indiana recruit passed for 198 yards and ran for 74 for the Bears (13-2), but he was sacked seven times. Marciellion Gardner caught five passes for 72 yards and Anthony Shelman added four catches for 55 yards for Lawrence Central.

The sweet revenge

Kansas 6A: No. 93 Wichita Heights 48, Olathe North 14

One year ago, the players from Wichita (Kan.) Wichita Heights watched Olathe (Kan.) North raise the trophy that it wanted.

It wasn't a pretty loss. But revenge certainly was.

Fast forward one year after the crushing 34-point loss, and No. 93 Wichita Heights was the one celebrating its first state title on Saturday after a 48-14 win.

Wichita Heights had a 41-0 lead before Olathe North got on the scoreboard.

Running back Dreamius Smith had 286 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries in the win.

He scored on runs of 10, 30 and 60 yards in the second half, and his first touchdown came on an 82-yard run in the first half.

"Dreamius had a pretty special day, and he's a pretty special running back," Heights coach Rick Wheeler told the Kansas City Star. "What he wanted to do was not leave anything out there."

As a team, Wichita Heights recorded 499 yards on the ground on 57 carries.

"They got out on us early, and we couldn't sustain anything offensively in the first half," Olathe North coach Pete Flood told the Star. "I felt like we had a pretty good week of preparation. It's just things didn't go well today."

The rally that fell short

Michigan D1: Lake Orion 21, No. 98 Plymouth 13

At the half, Lake Orion (Mich.) High led No. 98 Canton (Mich.) Plymouth, 21-3.

Plymouth was in trouble.

But it rallied in the second half - a rally that would come just short.

Marques Stevenson ran for two touchdowns as Lake Orion beat Plymouth 21-13 to win the Division 1 title - the first in school history.

"I think our players were a little awe-struck by the surroundings in the first half," Plymouth coach Mike Sawchuk said. "That's how we ended up in a 21-3 hole. We were better in the second half, but we just didn't get enough plays."

Lake Orion led 7-0 after one quarter, thanks to Cole Schaenzer's 23-yard run. Plymouth (11-3) got on the board on Kyle Brindza's 43-yard field goal -- the second longest in finals history.

The Dragons took a 21-3 halftime lead after scoring runs of three and 36 yards.

Plymouth narrowed the gap to 21-13 on Victor Hicks' 46-yard punt return and a 28-yard field goal by Brindza.

Lake Orion's only loss this season came at the hands of Division 2 champion No. 65 Farmington Hills (Mich.) Harrison.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Michigan state final photos courtesy of is your source for: College Football | Football Recruiting | College Basketball | Basketball Recruiting | College Baseball | High School | College Merchandise
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