In a crucial matchup between two Kensington Lakes Activities Association (KLAA) North Division opponents fighting to secure a state playoff berth, Huron Valley Lakeland grinded out a 21-12 victory on the road at Walled Lake Central on Friday, Sept. 28.
With the victory, the Eagles (5-1 overall, 3-1 in the KLAA North) are only one victory away from both winning the KLAA North Division title and returning to the state playoffs for the first time since their 2008 district championship season.
On Friday, Oct. 5, Lakeland will be on its home field against the division’s leader, its Bogie Lake Road neighbor school Walled Lake Northern, making this year’s edition of the Battle of Bogie Lake the most anticipated meeting so far between the two schools.
Meanwhile, the Vikings (3-3, 2-2 in the KLAA North) now find themselves needing to win their final three games in order to reach the 6-win mark to assure themselves of a fourth straight state playoff berth, starting with this week’s matchup at home against its biggest rival, Walled Lake Western, on Friday, Oct. 5.
Central was in position to pull the upset against Lakeland early as it had a 6-0 lead at the end of the first quarter on two field goals by Bryan Maxwell from 39 yards and 38 yards out, respectively.
However, Dalton Christie would carry his momentum into the second quarter from his 4-touchdown performance against Waterford Mott the previous week.
Christie first scored on a 1-yard touchdown run to cap an 8-play, 68-yard drive by the Eagles to grab a 7-6 lead.
Lakeland’s next drive would only need one play as Christie ran 66 yards for his second touchdown and a 14-6 Eagles lead.
Vikings’ quarterback Nick Krumm would then score on a 43-yard touchdown run, but Central failed on the 2-point conversion attempt and went into the locker room at halftime trailing 14-12 instead of having the score tied.
“We made a couple of tweaks to our defense and reverted back to accountability and responsibility,” Lakeland Head Coach John Maltese said of his team’s halftime adjustments.
The Eagles would increase their lead in the third quarter as Ross Heiman threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Bradley Govan for a 9-point lead, 21-12. That score was set up by an interception by Lakeland’s Beau Wilhelm.
As it turned out, those would be the only points of the second half as the Lakeland defense shut down Central the rest of the way and allowed only 220 total yards of offense from Central on the night.
Christie had a monster game as he finished with 204 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries, accounting for all but 44 of Lakeland’s rushing yards on the night.
“Christie has done a remarkable job and he’s come on strong for us,” Maltese said.
The other half of Lakeland’s rushing attack, Anthony Waite, did not play due to an ankle injury he suffered the previous week. He hopes to return for the showdown with Northern.
Zach Fedorko led the Lakeland defense with eight tackles, including two sacks, while the Eagles’ defense forced three Central fumbles.
For Central, Zac Goor had 19 carries for 118 yards, while Krumm had 12 carries for 44 yards and also completed 6-of-11 passes for 61 yards.
Matt Boulus had eight total tackles for the Vikings while Jeturi Brown and Austin Shamoun each had six tackles and Eric Rostek had five.
Brown also had a fumble recovery while Nick Timmons also had an interception.
“It was a great battle between the two teams and I am very proud of the effort put forth by my team,” Central Head Coach Robert Meyer said. “The defense made Lakeland earn every yard and Goor was a workhorse tonight. We just came up short.”
Now, both Lakeland and Central will prepare to host their biggest rivals this week with so much at stake for both teams.