May 22 • 06:06 AM

Imlay City opens its season with 29-14 road loss to North Branch

August 29, 2007
IMLAY CITY — The North Branch varsity football team prevented John Forti from winning his debut as Imlay City's head coach, registering a 29-14 homefield triumph in a non-league confrontation last Friday night.

With the result, North Branch ups its mark to 1-0 overall. Imlay City drops to 0-1 this season.

"The final score did not reflect how close tonight's game was," Imlay City Coach John Forti said. "We gave up a couple big plays and that proved the difference," he noted.

"I was proud of the way we played. Our team fought hard to the final whistle."

In Friday's confrontation, North Branch grabbed a 7-6 edge after one quarter was history.

The second quarter would prove scoreless.

When the action resumed, North Branch used a 6-0 third quarter advantage to pad its lead some.

That made it 13-6, North Branch, at the 36-minute mark.

North Branch then outscored Imlay City 16-8 from that point on, closing out a 29-14 triumph.

The hosts produced their 29-point output aided by a Nate Parks 64-yard touchdown run (followed by an accurate extra-point kick courtesy of Dean Baker), a Dustin Howley touchdown tote from 10 yards out; a safety; a Tommy Howland 12-yard interception return for a touchdown (followed by a successful extra-point boot from Baker); and a Dion Ciamini 52-yard touchdown run (followed by an accurate extra-point boot courtesy of Baker).

Imlay City notched their 14-point total thanks to a Darren Saunders touchdown run from five yards out; and a Saunders to Mike Guerrero four-yard touchdown pass (followed by a Saunders PAT run).

On the evening, Saunders completed eight of 17 pass plays for 127 yards as Imlay City's quarterback. He was intercepted once along the way.

John Aversano was the other Imlay City player who opted to air out the football. He connected on one of four pass plays for -4 yards. Aversano threw one interception en route to those numbers.

Their successful tosses went to five different targets. Guerrero (four catches for 79 yards), Mason Duke (one reception for 15 yards), D.J. Salet (one reception for 14 yards), Alex Maldonado (two catches for 14 yards), and Cruz Medrano (two catches for five yards) formed that group.

The Imlay City ground attack managed 94 yards on 30 totes.

Individually, Cruz Medrano (10 rushes for 53 yards) and David Sears (34 yards on seven totes) proved Imlay City's most productive ballcarriers. The remaining 13 Spartan rushes netted a combined seven-yard gain.

From a defensive standpoint, Duke (nine solos) and Sears (six) notched Imlay City's best credentials. They were backed by Salet (five solos) along with Mitch Rheaume, Ryan Baker and Cody Slingerland (four each).

The Imlay City defense also logged three takeaways. Guerrero and Baker (a fumble recovery apiece) plus Sanders (an interception) provided those.

Imlay City will look to bounce back this Thursday when it travels to Capac for a Blue Water Area Conference game. That battle is scheduled for 6:55 p.m.

Sports Editor, Kevin Kissane has been covering sports for the Tri-City Times for over 20 years and is one of the most recognizable personalities in the area. Kevin when not covering anything from little league baseball to football, or softball to basketball, can be found on the links playing his favorite sport, golf.
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