By Robert Mytych
The Belleville Tigers football team traveled to Ford Field by coach, walked into the stadium wearing blazers and ties in dramatic red-carpet fashion, and took over the spotlight by defeating Caledonia, 35-17, on Nov. 26 to win its second straight Division 1 State title.
The victory also set another high school record-going undefeated at 13-0 the entire season.
The Tigers knew they were going to face an equal to their own quarterback with Caledonia’s Mason McKenzie and for nearly three quarters the leader of the Fighting Scots lived up to their name by scoring first on their opening drive to take an early 7-0 lead. Then the Tigers responded with a 28-yard touchdown rush from Colbey Reed that tied the game with 1:30 remaining in the first quarter.
Another long drive in the second quarter found the Fighting Scots back on top with a first and goal from the 1-yard line to take a 14-7 lead with 3:48 left in the half.
Belleville’s Bryce Underwood settled in with his offense and connected with Adrian Walker from seven yards out to tie the game, 14-14, at the end of the first half. Caledonia capped off another long offensive drive but had to settle for a 22-yard field goal to take a 17-14 lead with 2 minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter.
The field goal ended up being the final points the Fighting Scots could manage as the Tigers slowly pulled away with a 36-yard touchdown rush by Jeremiah Beasley and a 48-yard scramble by Underwood to take a 28-17 lead with 8:34 remaining in the 4th quarter. Belleville sealed the victory with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Mychal Yharbrough with just under 4 minutes left in the game. Belleville’s Dennis Crawford intercepted a McKenzie pass that stopped the Fighting Scots on their final drive.
Colbey Reed led the rushers with 71 yards on 9 carries and one touchdown while Jeremiah Beasley gathered 57 yards on 4 carries and a touchdown. Belleville’s Adrian Walker caught 4 passes good for 47 yards and one touchdown while Mychal Yharbrough made three catches for 45 yards and also a TD. In all, the Tigers rushed for 288 yards on the ground and 155 yards in the air.
Making it to state finals was the first for Caledonia in Division 1 competition after moving up from Division 3 and winning a state championship back in 2005. The school, located just north of Grand Rapids has the fewest students out of all the Division 1 schools that competed this year.
By Robert Mytych