2018-10-21 / Sports

PERFECTION

Lightning close out regular season undefeated with SVL championship
BY JOE OSTER
810-452-2641 • joster@mihomepaper.com


Lapeer’s Phoenix Dickson celebrates his second touchdown at the end of the first half Friday. 
Photo by Joe Oster Lapeer’s Phoenix Dickson celebrates his second touchdown at the end of the first half Friday. Photo by Joe Oster LAPEER – The Lapeer football team dominated rival Davison 28-6 on Friday, winning the Saginaw Valley League-South championship outright and completing an undefeated regular season.

“Man, it’s big,” said Lapeer coach Mike Smith to his team on the field after the win. “To get into the final game and be able to claim those two things (the SVL title and a perfect record) on the last day of the regular season. We played better tonight than we had played in a little bit, and it shows. We played tough, and that’s what I really liked about tonight.”

Phoenix Dickson paced the Lapeer offense from the wildcat position, running for 121 yards on 14 carries, while scoring the Lightning’s only two offensive touchdowns on the night.


Jalen Kirkland runs out the clock in the fourth quarter, clinching Lapeer’s SVL-South title against Davison Friday. 
Photo by Joe Oster Jalen Kirkland runs out the clock in the fourth quarter, clinching Lapeer’s SVL-South title against Davison Friday. Photo by Joe Oster “Phoenix Dickson is just a heck of an athlete and competitor,” said Smith. “He’s got speed, he’s got power, but you can put him back there (lined up as quarterback) all the time. By him taking the ball (from a direct snap), we get an extra blocker, too.”

The defense capped off its season in perfect fashion, shutting down the high-powered Cardinal offense while still creating big plays of its own.

“You just want to come out and play well and play close to your best, and we did that,” continued Smith. “Defensively, we bent a little bit early. Then we buckled down and got some stops. Turnovers were big. Heck, we scored twice on defense. It was a big deal. I didn’t see that coming. (Davison) is a very difficult team to play. I’m just so proud of our players to come out, play tough, physical and execute.”

Defensive back Preston Church set the tone early for the Lightning when he intercepted a pass from Davison’s Cannon Hall on the opening drive. Church returned the ball to Davison’s 49-yard line, setting up a first-and-10 for Lapeer at the 6:00 mark in the first quarter. Lapeer’s drive ultimately stalled out and resulted in a punt. The two teams continued to trade punts for the rest of the quarter.

After a punt set up the Lightning offense at their own 20-yard line, Dickson ripped off a 46-yard run down to Davison’s 34-yard line. On the next play, Brady Apple found Drew Johnston 33 yards downfield on a play-action pass, setting up a first-and-goal from the one-yard line. Dickson then punched the ball into the end zone, giving Lapeer a 7-0 lead with 6:52 left in the half.

Facing a fourth-and-one from their own 41-yard line on the next possession, Hall was stuffed at the line of scrimmage. The measurement gave the ball back to Lapeer, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Lightning tacked on 15 more yards, giving Apple and the Lightning offense the ball at their own 49-yard line.

On third-and-two, Dickson ran for eight yards and then 11 more yards on the ensuing play. A personal foul against the Cardinals moved the ball inside Davison’s 15-yard line with 2:07 left in the half. A Dickson nine-yard gain on third-and-five gave Lapeer the ball at the goal line with less than a minute on the clock. Dickson ran the ball in on the next play, giving Lapeer a 14-0 lead heading into the half.

The third quarter began with more punts until Carson Currie returned a fumble 43-yards for a touchdown after Kyle Sahr and Evan Angus sacked and stripped Hall. The defensive touchdown gave Lapeer a 21-0 lead with 6:35 left in the third quarter.

Attempting to comeback in a hurry, a Davison trickplay that began as a wide receiver-pass turned into an interception for Lightning defensive back Dylan Fuchs at Lapeer’s three-yard line. However, the Lightning offense wasn’t able to gain any steam and punted the ball back to Davison.

The Cardinals showed signs of life at the 11:46 mark of the fourth quarter, when Payton Pizzala stripped Apple of the ball and returned it to the house. A missed extra-point left the score at 21-6.

The Lapeer defense put the game away a possession later at 8:39, when Austin Smith hit Hall while in his own end zone, and Darien Baker jumped on the loose ball for a touchdown. The fumble recovery gave the game its final 28-6 score.

Jalen Kirkland was the thunder to Dickson’s lightning on the ground, rushing for 81 yards on 18 carries. As a team, Lapeer ran for 216 yards on 44 carries.

Apple went 4-for-7 for 79 yards through the air. Johnston’s lone reception was his 33-yard grab. Trent Kreger had a 25-yard reception at tight end. Sahr also had a 15-yard catch, and Carson Butterfield finished with an eight-yard reception.

Lapeer outgained the Cardinals 301-128 in total offense and held a 27:39- 20:21 advantage in time of possession. Cody Fick also went 4-for-4 on extra-points.

“I know there’s a lot of animosity between us and Davison,” continued Smith. “It could happen, if we have success down the road, we could play them again (in the playoffs). We won the game, we won the title. That’s all that’s left that matters.”

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