TRAVERSE CITY —
A little redemption can go a long way.
That's what Traverse City West is hoping for after a 36-6 victory over Gaylord on Friday.
The Titans improve to 2-3, leaving hope that the team can win the rest of its games and qualify for the playoffs after a slow 1-3 start.
"We came out with great emotion," West guard and captain David Dudley said. "We had a great push with the O-line. Everybody did their jobs. It was just good to see for once. The win was nice. I think as a team we needed it."
The Titans' other guard, Stephen Town, was selected homecoming king at halftime, the first of his two victories that evening.
"Definitely the win on the field (was better)," Town said. "We worked hard as a team, and it was really good for it to pay off. We just worked together as a team and everything came together. Our entire offensive line worked hard tonight."
TC West held Gaylord to 19 total yards in the first half, racking up 253 of their own. The Titans were moving toward their fifth touchdown in as many possessions when a Dillon Hunt interception ended that drive.
Zac Shafer scored three of West's first four touchdowns — scoring on runs of 2 and 36 yards and hauling in a 9-yard pass from Brett Kenny to lead 30-0. Kenny also hooked up with Devyn Powell for a 14-yard TD.
While the Titans were moving up and down the field, Gaylord was almost at a standstill. The Blue Devils had only one first down in the first half. Their first four possessions ended in punts and a Jesse Schwartz interception brought the fourth to a close on the first play.
Like Town, kicker Kevin Cronin was part of two wins Friday. The junior helped the Titans beat Saline 4-1 in soccer, then changed uniforms to suit up on the gridiron. He arrived part way through the second quarter, kicking a pair of extra points.
The biggest change for the Titans was getting Kenny and Schwartz back. The pair missed last week's Big North Conference opener with Cadillac with skin infections.
"Brett offensively offers so many other opportunities for us," West coach Tim Wooer said. "He can throw, he can run, he can catch. You put Schwartz and Kenny and Powell and (Jerod) Hubbard on the field and then a Shafer in the backfield, I think that is a good unit. You take two of those out, and last week we were struggling with even getting in the right formation."
Kenny ended up 10-for-14 passing for 111 yards and three touchdowns. He hit Nick Richardson on a 10-yard rollout pass on West's opening drive of the second half for a 36-0 lead to start a running clock.
Gaylord took its first second-half drive and went 76 yards in three plays, with backup quarterback Jake Cuca running it in from 17 yards out for the Devils' only score.
Gaylord's Caleb Tomes seemed to be everywhere for the Blue Devils. The junior linebacker had 19 tackles and blocked an extra point. Alex Mee added 12 tackles, and Regan Quaal and Jesse Armstrong each had nine.
Cuca led Gaylord with 76 yards rushing, all in the second half.
"I'm happy for our kids," Wooer said. "This is what they deserve. It's a great group of kids. This is what our high school deserves and this is the type of football we're capable of playing. Hopefully we can savor this and enjoy it and say, 'Hey, this is kind of fun. Let's keep going it.'"
Zane Rusinowski led the defense with six tackles, while Schwartz and Matt Beem each had five stops. Jake Fisher had three tackles and a sack.
Shafer carried the ball 11 times for 81 yards, Kenny added 55 yards rushing on 10 carries and Cody Scheuerman had 52 yards on 10 rushes. Powell finished with four catches for 54 yards.
West defensive tackle Aric Cleland left on the second play of the game with a foot injury and will be re-evaluated after X-rays.
The Titans (2-3, 1-1 Big North) now face an uphill climb to get back in playoff contention. West hits the road for the next three weeks, then closes out the regular season against rival TC Central.
"It was nice to have five games in a row at home, but there's also not a lot of great memories here," Wooer said. "Three of the first four were not a lot of fun. But we always travel well."
Up next is Dearborn Edsel Ford (2-3), coming off a 35-14 loss to Dearborn Fordson. Next Friday's game will be played at Ferris State University.
"If we can win that one, maybe it gives us a boost and a little belief that we can win out," Wooer said. "We haven't talked a lot about that. The way we've played sometimes, I don't think you can talk like that. But we threw it out there very cautiously (Friday) to say, 'Hey, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.' We can still salvage something here."
Titans hold on to playoff hopes with 4 games to go
TRAVERSE CITY —
A little redemption can go a long way.
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