By DOUG DONNELLY
Whiteford took the lead last week in something it’s probably never led before. After Friday’s 61-6 playoff win over Lenawee Christian, the Bobcats found themselves having scored more points than any other high school football team in Michigan.
While it’s a fun statistic, it also is thrown out the window this week when the Bobcats take on chief rival Summerfield in the Division 8, Region 4, District 1 finals. For Whiteford, it’s a chance to win a third straight district title for the first time in school history. For Summerfield, it’s a chance for revenge for a 54-6 setback earlier this year by the Bobcats.
“It will be a great challenge for our team and program,” said Whiteford football coach Jason Mensing, now in his sixth year coaching the Bobcats.
Whiteford enters the game Friday having scored 549 points on the season – an average of 54.9 a game. On the other side of the ball, its defense is allowing a mere 10.1 points a game. That’s the fewest points per game allowed for the Bobcats since 1993.
The Bulldogs can put the ball into the end zone, too. Summerfield has scored 35, 50, 28, 24, 38, 34 and 28 points in games this season. Quarterback Brendan Zeipekis has thrown for 19 touchdowns – including 12 to Noah Cunningham. Zeipekis has completed 67 of 128 passes for 1,379 yards – tops in Monroe County and the Tri-County Conference.
Summerfield also has had success running the ball. Chris Bucher rushed for more than 200 yards last week against Morenci in the opening round of the playoffs, pushing his season total past 1,000 yards. Bucher has also caught 14 passes for 167 yards and leads the TCC in tackles with 130.
“It is a tremendous challenge playing a program as well coached is Summerfield one time let alone a second,” Mensing said. “They have some great players and tremendous support.”
First-year Bulldog head coach Ryan Lefevre said Summerfield must fix some of the things it did the first time it played Whiteford this season.
“We know we have to fix some mistakes from our last matchup, including eliminating turnovers and controlling the time of possession,” Lefevre said. “It will be a typical hard hitting TCC game, but I know our guys are looking forward to the challenge.”
Summerfield is ranked No. 15 in Division 8 according to the most recent Calpreps.com computer ranking. The Bobcats remain No. 1.
Thomas Eitniear will be making his 38th career start at quarterback for the Bobcats, including his sixth start against Summerfield. The record-setting Bobcat quarterback is closing in on 1,000 yards passing this season and has already surpassed the 5,100-yard mark for career offense.
Logan Murphy is moving up the single season Whiteford rushing charts. He’s currently No. 4 with 1,297 yards this season. The Bobcat offensive line includes four first team All-TCC performers in center Jacob Lewis, guard Jordan Book and tackles Jarret Atherton and Lucas Tesznar.
Defensively the Bobcats have allowed more than one touchdown to a single opponent just three times all season.
Abba Risley continues to lead the team in tackles while Eli Shelton has three sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. Ty Eitniear intercepted his sixth pass of the year last Friday against Lenawee Christian, the most for a Bobcat player since 2004.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Whiteford Stadium – in the woods. The Bobcats have won 14 straight games on its home field.
“We are very excited to be in the position we are,” Lefevre said. “This is a great area for small town football. And playing Whiteford makes it even better. Jason has done an awesome job with their program.”