BY DENNIS CHASE
TRAVERSE CITY — Traverse City Central quarterback T.J. Schepperly did his best Jalen Brooks impersonation Friday night at Thirlby Field.
Brooks, the Cadillac quarterback, rushed for 292 yards and six touchdowns last week in the Vikings 44-14 win over Petoskey.
Schepperly countered, rushing for 160 yards and two touchdowns, passing for 77 yards and two scores and returning a punt 50 yards for another tally as the Trojans blanked Petoskey 40-0 in a Big North Conference contest.
"Schepperly runs like the Cadillac kid," Central coach Tom Passinault said. "Some of our offense is similar (to Cadillac's). We didn't put in anything new. We just saw that the stuff we had worked against them. What we like about our game is we can spread people out and get people out of the box and let T.J. run. That fit right in to what Cadillac did (to Petoskey)."
Schepperly didn't waste any time, scoring on a 35-yard run on Central's third play from scrimmage.
"We watched a lot of film from the Cadillac game," he said. "We had a lot of plays for me to run tonight."
Schepperly's punt return and 25-yard scoring scamper put the Trojans ahead 19-0 at half.
The senior went to the air in the second half, completing all four of his passes. One, a swing pass to T.J. Schwannecke, went for a 28-yard touchdown. He later hit Bill Vermetten from 22 yards out.
Schwannecke used his speed, and a nice change of direction, to return a second-half punt 74 yards for a score.
"Both of our T.J.s are explosive players," Passinault said. "We have real good skill players and it's hard to get all of them the ball. Those guys drool when they get a chance to return kicks."
Schwannecke returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown in last week's home opener.
"The blockers did it all," he said. "All I had to do was run."
The win snapped a four-game losing streak to Petoskey as Central improved to 3-1 overall, 2-0 in the league.
"The kids and the coaches were really motivated to try to end that streak," Passinault said. "The big thing we said this week was that the offense hasn't really carried its weight in those losses. We challenged the offense to take control of the game. Tonight they did."
Central only had to punt twice, and Nate Pupel's punts covered 68 and 53 yards that helped the Trojans dominate field position.
"This was a huge game for us confidence-wise," Schepperly added. "We're 2-0 in the league and that's big, especially after beating a team like Petoskey that's always solid."
"We've got some momentum going and we're not going to stop here," he said. "We know we've got a good team."
All the offensive fireworks overshadowed another strong effort by the Trojan defense. Only once did the Northmen get inside the Central 20 and that came late in the game.
Schwannecke said it was important for the defense to set the tone after the Trojans kicked off to open the game.
"It started with defense," he said. "We told our defense that we needed to get a stop right now and send a message, let them know we're for real. We hit them hard and we capitalized when we got the ball back on our first possession."
The loss dropped the Northmen, the defending league champions, to 2-2 overall, 0-2 in the league. It's the first time Petoskey's lost two in a row in five years.
When asked if his team is at a crossroads in the season, coach Kerry VanOrman said, "I'm not thinking about crossroads or anything, I'm just thinking about being in a football game right now, getting the kids back into believing in what they do."