Whiteford hosts Detroit Loyola in matchup of state-ranked teams

By DOUG DONNELLY

OTTAWA LAKE – Whiteford will get a big test Friday when Division 7 perennial playoff team, Detroit Loyola, comes to town.

The Bulldogs are off to an 0-2 start but have played powerhouses Detroit Country Day and Grand Rapids West Catholic.

“It will be a big test for us, but it builds on the things that we need as the season goes on,” said Whiteford coach Todd Thieken. “Loyola has a lot of talented skill guys, probably three Division 1 athletes for sure.”

The Bulldogs are no strangers to success. After going 4-5 in the regular season last year, Loyola qualified for the playoffs and won two post-season games before falling to Jackson Lumen Christi. They have been in the playoffs 14 of the past 15 seasons and won a state title in 2014. Loyola also made state final appearances in 2012, 2013 and 2016.

Terrance Sims, a former semipro football player and coach, is in his first season as the Bulldogs head coach. He is the fourth different head coach in six seasons at Loyola. The 2022 team is one of the youngest Loyola squads in recent memory.

Sims has just six seniors, but they are talented. Receivers Dwight Bush and Kendrick Britt are outstanding athletes, Khamari Wright returns in the backfield while linebacker Braylon McDonald and safety Michael Williams Jr. leads the defense.

Loyola was ranked No. 5 in Division 7 in the latest Michigan High School Football Coaches Association rankings.

Whiteford is 2-0 and ranked No. 1 in a couple statewide polls after two weeks.

The Bobcats had to move some players around and overcome adversity last week before pulling away from Ida. The Bluestreaks were within six points twice in the second half, but Whiteford responded both times with scoring drives.

“The character building with that is huge,” Thieken said. “When you are used to winning you are used to a lot of things going your way. Friday things didn’t go our way. We turned the ball over three times, and we still scored 32 points.”

Shea Ruddy made a couple of outstanding plays to keep the Bobcats alive during those final two scoring drives, one on a fourth-down scramble that led to a first down, and the other on a long pass to put the Bobcats into scoring position.

“We want the ball in his hands in that situation,” Thieken said. “We have 100 percent confidence in him. 100 percent.”

Ruddy is making his 34th career start Friday. He is second all-time in Whiteford career passing lists for completions (187), passing yards (3,392) and touchdown passes (35).

Kickoff for the non-league game is at 7 p.m.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s