BY JAMES COOK
TRAVERSE CITY — Cadillac had two Division 1-level linemen on the field, but it didn't show on the scoreboard.
Traverse City West posted an impressive 40-11 Big North Conference victory Friday over the previously undefeated Vikings to set up a showdown of unbeaten league foes in next Friday's battle with rival TC Central.
The Titans (4-1, 3-0 BNC) negated Cadillac's huge size advantage in the trenches and stunned the Vikings by scoring on seven of their first eight drives.
"They kicked our butt and played better than we did," Vikings coach Jim Webb said. "Obviously, they played better than we did. We're going to watch film and see if anything special was going on. But they obviously wanted it a little more than we did today."
The Vikings (4-1, 2-1 BNC) had given up only 54 points in their first four games, but TC West ran up almost that many in 48 minutes.
A key to that was neutralizing massive Cadillac tackles Riley Norman (6-7, 295) and Jack Ford (6-6, 270).
"It was the greatest challenge I've ever had," said West defensive lineman James Peck, who had six tackles and a pass break-up. "I'm glad I faced it and faced it like a Titan. It felt great.
"We simply (played) ball technique and took them out by the legs and negated them getting to the linebackers and letting them roam free."
Donny Cizek was perfect in the first half, completing all 11 passes he threw for 193 yards and three touchdowns. He ended the game with 237 passing yards.
"Our linemen, they really stepped up," Cizek said. "For them to take on two Division 1 prospects the way they did was great."
West scored touchdowns on five straight drives to end the first half with a 34-9 lead.
"Our defense played really well," Wooer said. "That was key. And obviously we were able to really execute out of our spread. Donny Cizek again — and I say again — came through. On hindsight as a coach, you look back to Kenowa Hills and say, 'How come I didn't let him loose on Week One?' Between our defense and Donny and our offensive line giving Donny opportunities to throw the ball and our receivers making great catches at critical times — everything just clicked."
Cadillac drove 75 yards on the game's first possession for a 22-yard Nick Paquet field goal and West had a three-and-out to start the game. Cadillac's offense was rolling again when Zack McGuire stepped in front of a Brooks pass to Patrick Briggs and returned the interception to the Viking 39. Two Cizek completions later — to Georden Carter for 36 yards, Dustin Tucker for 9 — and the Titans were set up with a second-and-1 at Cadillac's 14. That's when Wooer called one of the game's few trick plays — Cadillac later had a failed fake punt — and unleashed a Statue of Liberty-type draw play that saw Cizek take almost the enter Cadillac defense with him on a roll-out to the right while Forrester trotted into the end zone untouched to the left.
"We caught them at the right time," Wooer said. "They were bringing a guy off the backside edge, leaving open the seam and Griffin did a good job of popping that open."
From there, Cizek hit Tyler Johnson for a 35-yard touchdown on an over-the-should catch in the end zone for a 13-3 lead and Griffin Forrester ended the next three drives in touchdowns for a 34-9 halftime lead.
Forrester converted on a 1-yard run to put West up 20-3 before Brooks busted an 80-yard keeper for a one-play drive that made it 20-9. One West's first play in the ensuing drive, Forrester caught a screen pass and took it to the house for a 65-yard score that took back the momentum and kept it on West's side.
"Our lineman did a phenomenal job," Forrester said. "And as soon as I got the ball, Jake Guyon had a really, really good block and it was all green grass from there."
The second half largely saw West grinding out clock with the running game and Cadillac able to gain chunks of yardage, but unable to convert any of its four possessions into points. The only Viking second-half points came when they hit Matt Kirkey for a safety after the Peck and Storm Eagle stopped a Cadillac drive on fourth-and-goal from the 1 the play before.
West converted its first two second-half possessions into Matt Gloshen field goals of 30 and 24 yards.
Derrick Diver and Eagle led the defense with nine tackles each. Carter, Matt Lowe and Tucker each had seven.
"Our defense (played) one to be proud of," Cizek said. "Our offense goes up against what we think is the best defense in the Big North each week. To play a team with a great quarterback like that and hold them to 11 points, that's something special."
Wooer thought Cizek's 193 first-half passing yards were a West record for one half. Brooks ran 26 times for 268 yards for Cadillac, which had 359 yards of total offense to West's 391.
Forrester caught three passes for 64 yards, Johnson added 96 receiving yards and Carter had 58.