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FOOTBALL: Seaholm remains unbeaten in OAA Blue with win over Berkley

BERKLEY – Stephen Guenther threw a pair of touchdowns and Aaron Ware returned a fourth quarter punt 54 yards for another score as visiting Birmingham Seaholm defeated Berkley, 30-9, in an OAA Blue Division battle on Friday.

Seaholm improved to 3-1 overall and 3-0 in the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division.

Berkley fell to 2-2 and 2-1.

“It’s huge,” Seaholm coach Jim DeWald said of Friday night’s victory that kept the Maples unbeaten in the division. “There is so much parity in this (Blue) league. It was a great first half. We were excited. It was 3-0 and I told them that’s why we do what we do.”

Guenther, a 5-foot-11 senior, led a balanced running and passing game for the Maples, while special teams also came up big on Friday.

Ware, a 5-10, 170 pound kick returner, cradled the ball after receiving Berkley’s sixth punt of the night, cut left, then found a seam up the right sidelines to give the Maples a commanding 16-2 cushion with 9:42 left.

Seaholm’s ground game continued to control the ball in the second half. But it was Guenther connecting with crafty 6-1 back Jake Martin on a 4-yard scoring pass with 2:13 left to seal the win.

The Bears, however, did not quit as Eric Hudson, a speedy 6-foot senior, returned a kickoff 86 yards with 1:55 remaining to cut Seaholm’s lead to 23-9.

“I saw a great team in Berkley,” DeWald said. “They went to a spread T offense, but our defensive coordinator did a heckuva job. Our defense played hard – they played with energy.”

Seaholm power fullback Jack Mentag added a 9-yard TD run with 1:16 left to expand the lead to 30-9.

“The final score was not indicative of the game tonight,” Berkley second-year coach Jeff Burnside said Friday. “This was a 3-0 game at halftime.”

Seaholm’s stellar defense, led by end Karl Marback, and Zach Granett, created a key turnover late in the game when cornerback Austen Park returned an interception 47 yards to the Maples’ 17 with just 3:03 left.

The Maples were also the beneficiary of a shanked punt that kept them in Berkley territory midway through the third quarter. But on the very first play from scrimmage after the punt, Guenther, a senior quarterback, connected with Tyler Scott on a 39-yard scoring pass for a 10-0 lead with 6:03 left in the third. Scott, a 6-foot-2 wide receiver, made not one but two moves to deke out two Berkley defenders and waltzed in the end zone untouched.

“They are a great reading defense,” Burnside said of Seaholm’s defensive backs and linebackers. “They just read very well.”

The Bears cut the lead to 10-2 when a host of Berkley players tackled Guenther in the end zone with just 1:46 left in the third.

“Our defense was playing great, and their defense was great, too,” Burnside said. “I told Jim (DeWald) that was one of the best defenses I have ever seen. But we drop a pass have a ball batted down.”

Berkley senior quarterback Alex Agbay opened the second half with a 39-yard pass play to his primary target - Joshua Coleman, but then tossed an interception to Seaholm’s Dylan Kanaan on the very next play to stifle a Bears drive.

“We just couldn’t finish,” Burnside lamented.

A 36-yard field goal by Michael Levitsky with 24 seconds left gave Seaholm a 3-0 lead at the half. Levitsky also added the extra point kick that gave the Maples a 10-0 advantage.

The only points of the first half were made possible when Guenther found a rhythm with playmakers Scott and Martin in the second quarter.

The Maples drove to the Berkley 39 when Guenther found Matt Brown for a 22-yard gain down the seam with 48 seconds left. But Berkley cornerback Kevin Bibby, a 5-foot-10 senior, knocked down a pass near the end zone and Seaholm was forced to kick the field goal.

Kole Bishop, Matt Koerner and Emman’uel Bellamy were on most plays defensively for the Bears in the first half.

“We were well prepared for this game,” Burnside noted about the Bears’ game plan. “We needed to make a play but we didn’t finish.”

Seaholm’s Vestevich, a 5-foot-8 receiver, beat Shephard to the corner in a battle of two standout athletes and Guenther then hit him on a perfect pass for a 27-yard gain inside Bears territory.

Berkley opened the second quarter with a screen pass that resulted in a 10-yard loss. But Borden-Sanford nailed two of his four second half punts inside the 10 yard line.

Coleman, a 5-10 junior, hauled in a 17-yard screen pass to put the Bears in Maples territory in the early going, but a personal foul penalty wiped out a great play. Still, Alec Sanom, a 5-foot-6 junior, put together a nifty first down run that ended the first quarter on a high note for Berkley.

Veldo Funwie, a 6-2 senior, had a nice 5-yard tackle for a loss when he sacked Vestevich on a third and 5 early in the game.

Berkley senior Eric Hudson ran the fly sweep and Josh Jones, a 5-7 junior, ran it up the gut for the Bears early and often.

Jeremy Shephard blocked a Seaholm punt to start the Bears at the 32 on its first drive of the game. But the Maples used a big 12-yard sack for a loss to force the Bears to punt.

Borden-Sanford punted 38 yards to the Seaholm 1-yard line that pinned the Maples offense early in the contest.

Seaholm started Friday’s game at the 30 after a 16-yard game-opening kickoff return. But the Maples offense sputtered and went three-and-out.

Berkley came into the game following a non-league loss to Saginaw and OAA Blue Division victories over Birmingham Groves and Bloomfield Hills Andover, which has since terminated its varsity football program after only 11 players dressed for practice last week.

Prior to Friday’s game, Seaholm had defeated Ferndale and Royal Oak, but lost to Detroit Country Day.

Last Updated: 9/15/2012 3:53:34 AM EST

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