Walled Lake Western had cause for celebration on Thursday, Oct. 6, as the Warriors won a division and city championship at its rival’s expense.
The Warriors defeated Walled Lake Central, 18-11, at Warrior Stadium to remain undefeated at 7-0 and claim their first Kensington Lakes Activities Association (KLAA) North Division championship with a perfect 5-0 division record and the Walled Lake City Championship with victories over Central and Walled Lake Northern.
Western last won a division title in 2007 when it was a member of the Western Lakes Activities Association Western Division. The Warriors also snapped a two-game losing streak to Central.
“It’s great for our school, our community and our alumni,” said Western Head Coach Mike Zdebski. “Our kids put a lot of time in the weight room and they wore them down.”
The Vikings came in as the two-time defending North champions, but fell to 5-2 overall and ended North Division play at 4-1.
“It’s very frustrating to out-gain your opponent 2-1 (263 yards to 140) and time of possession and not come away with a win,” said Central Head Coach Robert Meyer. “We turned the ball over inside the 4-yard line twice. You will not win many games that way.”
The Warriors will next host the KLAA Lakes Conference Championship Game on Friday, Oct. 14 against KLAA West Division co-champion Grand Blanc (5-2, 4-1).
Meanwhile, the Vikings will be home against the other co-champions of the KLAA West, the Brighton Bulldogs (6-1, 4-1).
Central and Western came into last Thursday’s game evenly matched with high-powered running games and strong defensive lines and secondaries.
After forcing a punt on Central’s first drive, Western scored first on a 37-yard field goal by Kyle Bambard in the first quarter.
Central then ended the first quarter by turning the ball over on downs at the Western 18-yard line after an almost 6-minute drive covering 62 yards.
The Vikings then forced a Warriors punt and on the next drive. Quarterback Zac Leimbach scored Central’s first touchdown on a 1-yard run. A 2-point conversion by K.J. Schultz gave Central an 8-3 lead.
But the advantage was short-lived, as Joshua Jones took the ensuing kickoff back 85 yards for a touchdown and a 10-8 Western lead.
Central then began its next drive at its own 20-yard line and fought its way down the field to the Western 30-yard line before Bryan Maxwell missed a 48-yard field goal attempt.
However, Western was flagged for roughing the kicker and the penalty moved Central up to the Western 15-yard line.
Maxwell then hit an 18-yard field goal just before halftime to give Central an 11-10 lead.
The third quarter was scoreless, but both teams fumbled deep in their opponent’s territory, with Bambard fumbling at Central’s 15-yard line and Hameed Ahmed fumbling at Western’s 3-yard line.
Western started its final drive in the fourth quarter at Central’s 31-yard line after a short punt by the Vikings’ Tim Tanzillo.
The Warriors’ rushing attack, led by Brent Zdebski, ate up the clock before Alex Buchanan scored the game-winning touchdown from 2 yards out.
Kyle Bambard led Western with 64 yards rushing on 3 carries while Brent Zdebski was held to just 45 yards on 14 carries.
Leimbach finished with 138 yards rushing on 26 carries for Central and also threw an interception, while Nick Adamowski had 81 yards on 3 carries. Schultz had 44 yards on 11 carries.
Brent Zdebski also had 9 solo tackles and a sack while Ty Sickler had an interception and 4 solo tackles.
Schultz had an interception for Central.
With two weeks left in the regular season, the Warriors’ focus will now turn to Grand Blanc.
“We have to watch a lot of film and change gears. Grand Blanc has a lot of Division 1 athletes,” Coach Zdebski said.