So that was fun, right?
After months of sneak peeks, predictions and practices, high school football finally returned to Blue Water Area this past week. Some teams traveled as far as Ann Arbor and Saginaw, while others stayed in their own backyard.
There is certainly no conclusion to be drawn from Week 1. It’s still too early. But ask any player or coach and they’ll tell you that he’s realized something about his team in the last few days.
Here’s what we learned from opening week.
BWAC Isn’t Just Real, It’s Better
This is not to say that the BWAC it was not really before. It’s more of a reminder, as the small conference did big things in Week 1.
The BWAC teams finished 6-1 and outscored their opponents 152-90. Victories by Almont, Armada, and Croswell-Lexington all came along the way. But it was Armada who had possibly the most impressive victory of the group.
The Tigers upset Marine City, 28-27, in double overtime on Friday. It was the Mariners’ first loss at East China Stadium since Nov. 8, 2019.
Armada trailed 21-7 after three quarters but tied it with two touchdowns in the final 10:20 of regulation. The Tigers took their first lead in the second overtime on Kyle Coenen’s eight-yard touchdown run.
Marine City responded with a touchdown of their own. However, the Mariners decided to opt for the two-point conversion. Armada’s Vinny Fodale then made the winning play and brought down Marine City quarterback Jeffery Heaslip at the 3-yard line.
Sure, it was just Week 1. But the BWAC couldn’t have asked for a better start.
Take Note of the Port Huron Northern Offensive
In 2021, the Huskies’ strength was their defense. That’s likely to be the case in 2022. But in Thursday’s season opener, Northern’s offense was history.
The Huskies’ 44 points against St. Clair Shores Lake Shore were the most they’ve scored in a game since 2019. More importantly, that score was the result of a well-balanced offense.
Quarterback Dylan Bloink was 7 of 12 for 79 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 35 yards and three touchdowns on nine attempts.
Bloink also spread the wealth through the air. Three different Huskies had multiple catches in Danny Moore (three catches, 51 yards, one touchdown), Jacob Kerrigan (three catches, 50 yards, one touchdown) and Max Williams (two catches, 13 yards).
Running back Reace Buckhana had 76 yards and a touchdown (the first of his career) on 15 carries.
While Lake Shore isn’t the MAC’s class, this is essentially the same team Northern beat at home last year, 7-0. Compare that to Thursday’s 44-12 loss, which also came at Memorial Stadium, and the difference is heartening.
The next crop of quarterbacks is here
For some teams, a new season arrives with a new face under center. That was the case for several area schools, whose quarterbacks made their first career starts in Week 1: Almont’s Trenton Kruse, Armada’s Lucas Pratt, Cros-Lex’s Gavin Espinoza, Imlay City’s Matt Evans and Peyton Ellis of St Clair.
As far as early starts go, this group held its own. The five quarterbacks combined 25 of 54 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns against three interceptions. No player threw more than one selection.
Those numbers won’t jump off the page. But considering everything that can go wrong in the passing game at this level, they’re solid for five kids trying their hand at signaling for the first time.
Three quarterbacks came away with wins, including Espinoza, who shined in his debut. The junior was 4-for-11 passing for 44 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
Everyone learned something in Week 1. For these five, it was what it’s like to play the most important position in the game under the lights. Your next lesson comes in Week 2.
Contact Brenden Welper at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BrendenWelper.