Tommy Vento’s near-record day propels Farmington Hills Harrison past Lowell, 38-28, in the Division 2 high school football championship game
Jake Thielen | MLive.com, November 26, 2010 7:49 p.m.
Tommy Vento threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns on 19-of-32 passing as Farmington Hills Harrison defeated Lowell, 38-28, in the Division 2 high school championship game Friday afternoon.
The championship was Harrison’s 13th championship overall and first since 2001. The Hawks finished the season with a 14-0 record.
Vento’s 310 yards through the air were the second most ever by a quarterback in a championship game. The record of 318 yards was set by A.J. Westendorp of Holland Christian in 2008.
Vento’s first touchdown came on a 26-yard pass to Aaron Burbridge on Harrison’s opening possession, which gave the Hawks an early 7-0 lead. Vento and Burbridge connected again on a 10-yard fade route to the corner of the Ford Field end zone in the third quarter.
Burbridge finished the game with eight catches for 123 yards and two touchdowns. Burbridge also had six carries for 33 yards, and he caught a two-point conversion pass from Vento in the third quarter.
“Aaron has great speed and he’s a great athlete,” Harrison coach John Herrington said. “He’s a go-to-guy that you always can count on.
“When it’s tough, you can go to him, and he’s going to make the play for you.”
Vento’s third touchdown pass of the day was a 56-yard strike to his brother, Jake Vento, who caught the ball in stride and outran the Lowell defender down the left sideline. That score stretched the Harrison lead to 10 points early in the fourth quarter, and that was as close as Lowell would get.
Jake Vento had six catches for 161 yards and a touchdown.
Tommy Vento said that opposing defenses have trouble preparing for all of the weapons on the Hawks’ roster.
“It’s almost like the defense has to pick their poison,” Vento said. “We started off going to Aaron and when they double covered him, we got Devin (Funchess), Garius (Coleman) and Jake.
“We got a lot of guys that we just put the ball out there and they’ll go get it.”
Jake Vento agreed with his brother’s assessment.
“We have great receivers that you can’t leave uncovered because if you double cover one guy, the other guy’s going to catch it and have a big play,” Vento said.
Tommy Vento gave the credit for his performance to his teammates.
“The line played amazing, and the receivers got open,” Vento said. “There are 10 other guys out on the field and it came down to about every single one of them.”
Harrison trailed 14-10 at halftime, and 21-10 midway through the third quarter, before four straight turnovers by Lowell changed the momentum of the game.
“We went into the half behind, I think that’s only a few times that we’ve ever done that,” Jake Vento said. “None of us put our heads down, and none of us got mad over it.
“We just all agreed that we had to step up in the second half and just give everything we had.”
Jake Vento said he was impressed with the way Tommy kept his composure, despite the deficit.
“One thing about his leadership that I’ve noticed all season is that he always keeps his poise and always stays calm,” Vento said. “No matter what happens, he doesn’t get mad at anybody else except for himself. That’s a good thing to look up to.”
Lamarr Marshall’s interception with 6:46 left set up Burbridge’s second touchdown of the game and brought the Hawks within five points after a failed two-point conversion attempt.
“When Lamarr got that pick … it sparked something in all of us,” Tommy Vento said. “We didn’t have it in the first half, and they kind of took it to us.
“We knew we had to get it, and it just lit a fire. Everyone was clicking after that – offense, defense and special teams. We took it to them, and we never looked back.”
Lowell quarterback Gabe Dean fumbled on the Red Arrows’ next possession, setting up Tommy Vento’s 1-yard touchdown run that gave Harrison the lead for good.
“Turnovers were a big part of the game, as always,” Herrington said. “Once we got the turnovers, we had to capitalize on them because we knew if they got the ball back they would just run it, and run it and run it.
“We were able to do that and get the lead, and once we got the lead it changed the momentum.”
Tommy Vento said his team didn’t lose confidence despite being down by 11 points in the third quarter.
“I didn’t know when we were going to pick it up, but this team has a lot of heart and it was just a matter of time before we did pick it up,” Vento said. “I was hoping it wasn’t going to be too late, and obviously it wasn’t.”
Herrington said he didn’t want to rank this year’s team compared to his previous teams, but he said he was proud of the way the team played.
“This team played I think the hardest schedule that any of our teams played, Herrington said. “You play (Rochester) Adams, Lake Orion, Berkley’s best team, Farmington’s best team, Brother Rice and (Warren) De La Salle.”
“I’m very proud of them for accepting all those challenges, and this was just as big as any of them.”
Tommy Vento said that the Hawks had been confident about winning the state championship at the start of the year.
“I knew that with Harrison you always got a threat of going all the way,” Vento said. “I just knew that this team had a lot of heart.
“We’re all friends, we’re all family. We knew that we could do it if we put our minds to it.”
Herrington said it’s too early to think about next year, but he is looking forward to having players like Burbridge and Jake Vento returning.
“We do have a lot of players coming back, but we lose a lot of good ones,” Herrington said. “We take it one year at a time.”
Posted on April 27, 2011, in MLive, Sports and tagged championship, division 2, farmington hills harrison, football, ford field, high school, lowell, mhsaa, mlive, playoffs. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.