[complete_gallery id=”92592″ class=”alignnone” ]Friday, October 20, 2017
Coloma High School
Watervliet High School
One of the most storied football rivalries in Michigan added another chapter Friday night as Watervliet hosted neighboring Coloma for the 107th time in a showdown that started in 1909.
The evening couldn’t have turned out much better as the thermometer read an unseasonably warm 72 degrees at kickoff. The home team got things started right taking the opening kickoff and promptly marching down the field in just four plays to take an early 6-0 lead. Coloma would respond later in the quarter with scoring drive of their own to take a 7-6 lead. The Panthers immediately responded with a scoring drive to retake the lead at 14-7. Neither team was able to punch it in again as the Coloma offense ate up huge chunks of time in the first half limiting the high octane Watervliet offense to just four possessions (the last one being right before the half with just over a minute left). The Panther defense played bend but don’t break giving up some first downs, but only surrendering the one first half TD.
Coloma started the second half with a promising drive that was ended with a beautiful interception by senior OLB Bryant Kieft who was all over a Comet wheel route. The offense, behind senior sensation QB Zack Pickens went back to work and once again with a mix of screens and runs to push the lead to 22-7. The ensuing Comet drive was snuffed out by the Panther D around midfield forcing a punt. The offense promptly drove the length of field yet again to take a commanding 28-7 lead. Coloma would not go away however, responding with a 4th quarter TD drive aided by a controversial 4th down catch that appeared to touch the ground. With the score 28-14 the Panthers took just one play to strike back. Kieft, this time in the backfield, took a handoff 62 yards to the promise land and a 36-14 Watervliet lead. Coloma, now forced to pass more, threw two fourth quarter intercpetions. Lamarrius Smith knabbed one, while Pickens grabbed the other to help seal the deal. With fireworks that rivaled any 4th of July celebration going off the home team kneeled out the clock to finish off a 36-14 victory. The win was the 5th straight in the rivalry for Watervliet. This marked the first time in the storied rivalry that the Panthers had won five in a row.
Defensively, DT Blake Kinzler led the way recording eight tackles , including two QB sacks. Junior safety Garrett Matthews had 14 tackles, while Kieft had 8 tackles and an interception to help pace the defense.
Offensively, Pickens and Kieft led the way once again. Pickens, who faced eight man coverages much of the night, was 13/16 for 181 yards passing. Pickens did major damage on the ground, rushing 23 times for 194 yards and four TD’s. Kieft was the leading receiver with 4 catches for 71 yards as well as the leading rusher with 6 rushes for 72 yards and a TD. Worth noting was the play of the offensive line who helped blow open holes for the run game all night.
The win capped a perfect regular season for the Panthers (9-0, 5-0 SAC Lakeshore). The playoffs now loom for a Panther team with the firepower to play with anyone. The road to Ford Field for the Panthers will be known Sunday evening as the MHSAA has their annual playoff selection show at 7:00 p.m. on Fox Sports Detroit Plus.