Lake Orion captures first ever Division 1 football title after defeating Plymouth, 21-13

Jake Thielen | MLive.com, November 27, 2010 7:46 p.m.

The first ever state championship for Lake Orion High School came on the legs of senior running back Marques Stevenson.

His 186 rushing yards and two scores propelled his team to a 21-13 victory over Plymouth in the Division 1 state championship game Saturday afternoon.

“That’s a huge milestone and a huge accomplishment for our program, the community the kids, all of us,” Lake Orion coach Chris Bell said.

Lake Orion out-rushed Plymouth 307 to 30 while completely dominating on defense. Lake Orion finishes the season with a 13-1 record.

Lake Orion exploded on the ground in the second quarter at Ford Field and entered the half with a 21-3 lead. The Dragons held off a determined Plymouth team in the second half to come away with the victory.

Bell said the game was a tale of two halves.

“We did some great things I felt offensively in the first half,” Bell said. “They made some key adjustments, and we had a hard time handling the defensive ends in the second half.”

“The credit goes to these kids for hanging in there and making plays when they had to, and also to our defense. Our defense really dug in and gave us an opportunity to win the football game.”

Bell said the defense’s play has been strong the whole year.

“The key to our season has been the offensive line and the defense,” Bell said. “If you play great defense, you’ve got a chance to win championships.

“We’ve had some very good athletes, and we’ve fortunate to score a lot of points over the years at Lake Orion, but when we’re good it’s because we play great defense.”

Lake Orion got off to a quick start in the game, scoring on its first possession on a 23-yard run by quarterback Cole Schaenzer, who was starting in place of the injured Sean Charette.

Bell said scoring first was a major difference in the game, and that the Dragons previous state finals appearance in 2008 helped the team prepare for what to expect.

“Obviously when you go out and score on the first drive, it gives you great confidence,” Bell said. “I think that kind of set the tempo for the first half.”

“I thought that was probably to our advantage, having been here. Our goal was to start fast, but then get used to the environment, and that’s what we did.”

Stevenson also stressed how important it was for Lake Orion to get on the board early.

“We knew that, especially at Ford Field since it’s a really big stage, that the team that came out fast and didn’t get taken aback by the environment was going to have a huge advantage.”

Stevenson, who holds an offer from Air Force, helped Lake Orion literally run the clock away in the fourth quarter to thwart any Plymouth momentum. His 34-yard run on a third-and-15 play allowed Lake Orion to run out the rest of the clock.

“Our offense went stagnant in the second half, but that last drive we pulled it together and I ripped off some big runs that honestly I don’t even know what happened,” Stevenson said. “Instinct just took over on a couple of them.”

Plymouth did come out in the second half with a spark from returner Victor Hicks on special teams. Hicks’s cross-field sprint turned into a 46-yard punt return for a touchdown to give Plymouth some much needed momentum.

Plymouth coach Mike Sawchuk said his team wasn’t fundamentally sound in the first half.

“I thought we came out a little awestruck in the first half,” Sawchuk said. “We put ourselves in a 21-3 hole.

“We made some adjustments in the second half and shut it down for the most part except for the third-and long in the last part of the fourth quarter.”

Plymouth standout kicker and Notre Dame commit Kyle Brindza agreed with Sawchuck that the team was awestruck at the beginning of the game.

“Going into the second half, we knew that we needed to pick it up,” Brindza said. “We were awestruck like Coach said.

“We needed to get that out of our system before the game. It ended up not happening, and it was too late. I wish it could have been a different outcome.”

Brindza kicked two field goals in the game, and also had a 70-yard punt, which was the third longest in state finals history.

Bell said the win puts Lake Orion in elite company.

“There’s the accomplishment – it’s to erase that label of good enough but haven’t yet,” Bell said. “We won our state championship.

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Posted on April 27, 2011, in MLive, Sports and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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