from staff reports
GAYLORD — T.J. Schepperly ran for 196 yards and three touchdowns and completed all six of his passes for another 71 yards and two scores as Traverse City Central clinched the Big North Conference football championship Friday night with a 43-19 win at Gaylord.
"Every year we go into the season with two goals — No. 1 to win the Big North Conference and No. 2 to make the playoffs," Trojans coach Tom Passinault said. "To be where we are after week eight, already having wrapped up the league and a playoff berth, is a tremendous feeling for the players and coaches."
Central is 5-0 in the Big North. The Trojans earned a share of the title by beating Gaylord, then won it outright when Ogemaw Heights defeated Traverse City West, which was in second.
Central is now 7-1 overall.
"We talked this week about getting that seventh win," Passinault said. "It's never happened (at Central) since the split. You would have to go back to 1991 — 21 years ago — for the last time (a Central team won more than six games). The boys are proud of their accomplishment."
Schepperly scored his three rushing touchdowns in the first half as Central built a 30-7 lead. He completed a 33-yard pass to T.J. Schwannecke to set-up his second six-pointer, a nine-yard keeper. That put Central ahead 17-7.
Schwannecke added 37 yards rushing on five attempts and caught four passes for 47 yards. Schepperly's touchdown passes went to Billy Vermetten and Schwannecke.
"The T.J.s were probably the fastest kids on the field tonight," Passinault said. "They're tough guys to stop. We were the better team tonight."
As a team, the Trojans piled up 433 yards in offense, 357 of that on the ground. Gaylord had 181 yards in total offense.
Central closes out the regular season next Friday at Cadillac.