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FOOTBALL: Pioneers open with non-league win over Rams (PHOTO)
Gabriel Richard junior Tyler Blaszczak rushed for 167 yards and scored on runs of 13, 43 and 51 yards as the Pioneers opened the season in a big way with a 49-12 victory over non-league rival Flat Rock Friday night.
When an athletic team wins a big game at Gabriel Richard High School, that team, its coaches and its fans take great delight in gathering in front of the school and ringing the big iron victory bell.
During football weeks the past few years, that bell has been mostly silent.
So you could understand the building excitement on the Richard sideline Friday night as it became clearer and clearer that the Pioneers were going to open the season with a non-league win over visiting Flat Rock.
“They really want to ring that bell,” said second year Coach Tom Michalsen, still wet from an ice water shower courtesy of his players.
Really, the ringing of the victory bell was a foregone conclusion early on this night. The Pioneers scored three times in the first half and four in the second and rolled to a 49-12 victory
Flat Rock started the game with a 65-yard kickoff return to the Richard 15-yard line.
Richard’s John Crawford caught Flat Rock’s Cody Ratcliffe and prevented a touchdown.
Michalsen said after the game that Crawford’s play was a huge one.
“He never quit,” the coach said. “He kept going and got him.”
The Richard defense fed off the TD-saving tackle and rose up as Flat Rock ran four plays on its first possession and lost yardage on three of them while turning the ball over on downs.
Richard turned around and marched the ball 75 yards on nine plays, scoring on a nine-yard Tyler Riney run with 4:57 to play in the opening quarter.
The first of seven point-after kicks by Quinn Satckpoole made it 7-0.
On its first three possessions Richard ran 21 plays. Flat Rock ran 13 and the result was to be expected as the Pioneers built their lead to 21-0 on a 13-yard TD run by Tyler Blaszczak and a 30-yard run by Devin Dickow.
Flat Rock finally got on the board midway through the second quarter on a three-year run by quarterback Brandon Kish. The score was set up by a fine catch by Ratcliffe, who was on the receiving end of a 40-pass from Kish.
Richard recovered a Flat Rock onside kick and looked ready to score again and the half wound down, but Ratcliffe tipped a Jacob Lipetsky pass, intercepted it and returned all the way to the Richard 30-yard line.
But with time running out in the half, Flat Rock was thwarted by the Richard defense again.
Richard came out and salted the game away with two third-quarter touchdowns and then added two more in the fourth.
Blaszczak, who was the game’s leading rusher with 167 yards, added 51- and 43-yard scoring runs to his resume.
Lipetzky got in on the act with a three-yard run and back-up quarterback sophomore Josh Blasczak spotted a gap in the Flat Rock defense and exploited it with a 56-yard TD run on a quarterback sneak right up the middle.
For the night, Richard rolled up 444 total yards, 420 of it on the ground. In addition to Tyler Blaszczak, Riney rushed for 109 and Dickow added 30.
Flat Rock was held to negative yardage rushing, although Kish completed eight passes for nearly 160 yards.
Michalsen gave credit to his big senior offensive line, led by Pat McBride (6-foot-4, 265 pounds) and Colton Jarrat (6-5, 270), and to the off-season conditioning of his team.
“We hope to show people things are a little different around here now,” Michalsen said.
Richard is home Friday to play Everest Academy in the second of three straight home games.
Flat Rock has the unenviable task of hosting Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central Friday in its Huron League opener.
Last Updated: 8/31/2013 12:04:54 PM EST