Hazel Park clinches share of OAA Blue Divison high school football title with 35-32 victory over Berkley
Jake Thielen | MLive.com, October 16, 2010 1:31 a.m.
Hazel Park High School rallied from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter to hand Berkley High School its first loss of the season and clinch a share of the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division football championship Friday night.
Hazel Park controlled the game early, taking a 21-7 lead midway through the second quarter, before allowing Berkley to score 25 unanswered points.
Berkley kicker Kyle Braun’s 26-yard field goal with 10:58 left in the game put the Bears up 32-21, but Hazel Park answered right back on its next possession.
Dakota Ogles scored on a 3-yard run with 6:46 remaining to bring the Vikings within five points after a failed two-point conversion.
The Vikings’ defense forced Berkley to go three-and-out on the next possession. Todd Depew’s 56-yard touchdown run on the first play of the ensuing Hazel Park drive gave the Vikings a 35-32 lead with 4:14 left to play.
Hazel Park coach Scott Guthrie was impressed with Depew’s game-winning run.
“It was a great run,” Guthrie said. “It was good blocking up front, and then he broke a couple tackles.
“It was nice to see. I was just happy to see no penalty flags behind the play.”
Berkley turned the ball over on downs on its next possession, but the Bears stopped Ogles for no gain on fourth-and-2 to get one last chance with 1:00 left in the game.
However, the Bears were unable to move the ball offensively, and time expired after quarterback Jim Birnie was sacked near midfield.
Berkley coach Jim MacDougall said Guthrie deserved credit for the win.
“I give them all the credit in the world,” MacDougall said. “I told Scott before the game that I’m going to vote for him for Coach of the Year, and he deserves it.
“He doesn’t have one starter coming back on offense, and he wins the league title. That’s pretty good.”
Going into the game, much of the focus was on each team’s star running back. As it turned out, each team relied on key contributions from its backups.
Ogles came into the game averaging 218 yards per game on the ground for the Vikings, and he had 18 touchdowns in only five games, seven of which came in one game against Auburn Hills Avondale.
However, it was Ralph Hopkins who got off to a quick start for Hazel Park. Hopkins took a pitch on the Vikings’ second play from scrimmage and raced down the left sideline for a 70-yard gain. Hopkins ran in in from three yards out a couple plays later to put the Vikings up 7-0 early.
“Our kids were all converging on Dakota,” MacDougall said. “I knew exactly what they would do – it’s what I would do.
“They’ll fake to Dakota and give it off tackle, and they did, and they broke it.”
Hopkins and Depew each topped 100 yards for the Vikings. Ogles finished with a season-low 98 yards on 22 carries, but he did score two touchdowns.
“I think that’s what they based their whole game plan on, stopping (Ogles), and so it left us opportunities to break the outside,” Depew said.
Hazel Park finished the game with 315 yards rushing as a team.
“We’ve had different backs step up each week,” Guthrie said. “It’s got to be tough to prepare when one guy comes out, and another guy comes in.”
Berkley’s Terrell Porter came into the game averaging 143 yards per game, and he was coming off a seven-touchdown performance against Birmingham Seaholm.
Porter’s 67-yard touchdown run tied the score at 7-7, but he injured his right leg on his next carry and did not return. Porter finished the game with two carries for 75 yards and a touchdown.
MacDougall said Porter’s knee was bruised, but not seriously.
“I’m not going to risk him,” MacDougall said. “He wanted to play, but I wasn’t going to take a chance.”
Backup running back Omar Sitto rushed for 63 yards on seven carries, with two touchdowns. Markeis Hampton (47 yards), Lionel Walker (69 yards) and Travaun Reaves (27 yards and a touchdown) also helped the Bears in Porter’s absence.
Hazel Park improved to 7-1 overall and 7-0 in the division with the win. Berkley dropped to 7-1 overall and 6-1 in the division.
Hazel Park has already clinched a share of the division title because it owns the head-to-head tiebreaker over both schools in second place – Berkley and Avondale, who both have one loss in the OAA.
The Vikings can clinch the division outright with a win next Friday on the road against Ferndale (5-3). Berkley will be on the road to face Avondale (6-2).