Last year, Walled Lake Western trounced Saline to open the 2011 season en route to a 7-0 start, a division title and a trip to the Division 2 state final four.
But on Friday, Aug. 24, the Hornets returned the favor and stung the host Warriors, 27-14, exacting a measure of revenge for last season’s embarrassing loss.
“We made a lot of inexperienced mistakes on turnovers. We had dropped balls offensively and had trouble being detailed on assignments,” said Western Head Coach Mike Zdebski.
Saline jumped out to a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter on Tyler Palka’s 14-yard touchdown pass to Caleb Luckett and Palka’s 70-yard touchdown run.
The Hornets’ first touchdown was set up by a Western fumble.
The Warriors bounced back with 14 points on rushing touchdowns by junior quarterback Kyle Bambard and senior Josh Jones to go into the locker room at halftime tied with the Hornets.
But Western would be shut out in the second half, as Palka threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Gage Hammond in the third quarter, followed by Palka’s 25-yard touchdown run in the fourth after Western muffed a punt.
It was an impressive win for a Hornets’ team that debuted their first-year head coach, Joe Palka, last Friday.
Bambard led Western with 90 yards rushing on 23 carries, while Jones was held to 12 yards rushing on six carries and three receptions for 44 yards.
However, Bambard also had two lost fumbles and was also 0-for-4 on field-goal attempts, a disappointing start after a strong kicking performance during the entire 2011 season.
Jake Neracher was Western’s leading receiver with 70 yards on five receptions.
On defense, Zach Prokes had two sacks and seven total tackles.
“(Saline) was a tough team, and they ran every formation,” Zdebski said.
Western will look to get Friday’s loss out of its system as it prepares to host South Lyon East tomorrow, Thursday, Aug. 30. The Cougars are coming off a 25-22 victory over Waterford Kettering on Aug. 24.
“The faster we can correct these things, the better we’re going to be,” Zdebski said.