SSC tromps on Reed City's hopes early and often
STANDISH-STERLING - Nov. 1, 2008 - Standish-Sterling's football team is playing as well as it has all season, is as healthy as it's been since August and thanks to last year's lengthy playoff run is fairly well-educated on the potential pitfalls of the post-season.
That adds up to a whole lot of bad news for the Panthers' opponents as Reed City experienced Friday as SSC took the Coyotes behind the woodshed for a 44-6 beating in their Division 5 playoff opener.
The Panthers won every phase of the game -- twice scoring two touchdowns less than 90 seconds apart on offense, forcing three turnovers on defense and recovering an onside kick and blocking a punt on special teams. And all of that, save for two Reed City fumbles, happened in the first half.
"We played a very good game all the way around," said SSC coach Paul Walderzak. "I think we had a bit too much speed (for Reed City), but they're tough. They were good hitters."
The problem for the Coyotes: you can't hit what you can't catch, and the Panthers took full advantage of their fleet-footedness. Each of the Panthers' scoring drives in the first half lasted just four plays -- except for the one on which Austin Collier hit Cole Walderzak with a 32-yard touchdown pass on the first play after a Reed City fumble in the second quarter. That made it 28-0 with more than 10 minutes to play in the first half, essentially ending the game.
It was clear from the opening kick that SSC, the region's top seed, wasn't going to take the Coyotes lightly.
"The seniors won't let that happen," Walderzak said. "Guys like Adam Gulvas, Austin Collier, Casey Potts ... this is very important to them."
Reed City did what it could early, successfully converting a fake punt for a first down to keep its opening drive alive. But that only forestalled the inevitable.
The Panther's opening drive went for 67 yards, with Trevor Trombley's 41-yard run setting up Collier's 21-yard scoring pass to Mark Lorence.
The Panthers then successfully executed an onside kick, with 5-foot-3 Casey Potts making the leap to grab the ball and regain possession for his team.
"We saw something in their game films that made us think that would be successful," Walderzak said. "We went back and forth over whether we should do it on the first or second kickoff. It couldn't have been any more perfect."
Collier ripped off a 32-yard run on the next play and eventually scored on a 16-yard run to make it 14-0.
Lorence's 31-yard catch from Collier on the third play of the second quarter made it a three-touchdown game.
"Mark had a great night," Walderzak said. "He had two touchdowns, the onside kick, recovered two onside kicks and very many good blocks on the outside."
Jaron Trombley's blocked punt with 20 seconds left in the half set up Trevor Trombley's 22-yard field goal at the halftime gun for a 31-0 lead.
Collier's 50-yard run to open the third quarter and Kevin Reeves' 22-yard run early in the fourth capped the Panthers' scoring.
Paul Wieczorek's 27-yard run with six minutes remaining was Reed City's lone score.
"I think our offensive line played well against a mobile and aggressive defensive front," Walderzak said. "And the Blackshirts (the defense) had another great game ... with one of our more physical games of the season."
The Panthers outgained the Coyotes 367-136 before emptying their bench. Collier finished with 130 yards rushing on 11 carries and threw for 94 yards on 4-of-8 passing. Trevor Trombley added 88 yards on seven carries.
Defensive leaders included Jaron Trombley with six tackles, Adam Gulvas with 1 tackles, James Bashor with five tackles and an eight yard return of the blocked punt, Jacob Bialobrzeski with seven tackles and Matt Sneddon and Josh Augustine with sacks.
The Panthers held Wieczorek, the Coyotes' leading rusher, to 62 yards on 19 carries, with half of that coming in the fourth quarter. Justin Raby led Reed City (6-4) with 86 yards on 12 carries, 40 yards coming in the final period. Dylan Ridderman was 4-of-6 passing for 82 yards.
The Panthers (10-0) host Sanford-Meridian (8-2) for the Region 1, District 2 title on Friday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m.