Almont wins its first-ever district, 28-21
|The Almont football team celebrates their Division 5 district title win Friday against Livonia Clarenceville. photo by Kevin Kissane.|
November 12, 2008ALMONT — Almont earned their first-ever top district placing, accomplishing the feat with a 28-21 triumph against host Livonia Clarenceville in a Division 5, Region 4, District 1 championship confrontation last Friday night.
With the result, Almont (9-2) advances to this Friday's regional title tilt where Jackson Lumen Christi (9-2) provides their opposition. That matchup lists a 7:30 p.m. starting time. Livonia Clarenceville finishes at 9-2.
"This is a great feeling winning our school's first district title," Almont Coach Jeremy Ferman said. "Our school has been this deep in the playoffs before (the 1996 edition made it to the quarterfinals as well) but back then only 16 teams in each class made it," he noted.
"I am so darn happy for our whole team and especially the six seniors. This group did not get as much respect as our two previous teams did, but they sure stepped it up when they had to tonight."
In Friday's confrontation, Livonia Clarenceville struck first.
That happened when Levonte Brooks found the endzone via a tote from nine yards. His touchdown came with 2:58 showing on thefirst quarter clock.
Brad Pozniak followed it up with an accurate extra-point kick, giving Livonia Clarenceville a 7-0 edge at the time.
That advantage, though, would prove shortlived.
Just 1:15 later, Almont bounced back with a 30-yard touchdown run by Steve McClure and a succesful extra-point kick courtesy of Ben McNally.
That made it a 7-7 ballgame. There was now 1:43 showing on the first quarter clock.
The next 13 minutes-plus would see the scoreboard count remain the same.
Then came a play that would change the complexion of the game.
With 18 seconds showing on the second quarter clock, Almont quarterback Neal Zott took the snap from center. He dropped back, back and back again as a host of Livonia Clarenceville defenders converged, each appearing as though they were about to lower the boom on the fleet-footed signal-caller.
Zott headed left, hoping to bide his time. Then, he changed direction and sprinted toward the right sideline as Livonia Clarenceville continued to their efforts to chase him down.
However, their attempts would soon prove futile.
Zott, showing great presence, stopped on a dime and lofted a pass down the field. It was caught by Garrett Savage in the endzone for a touchdown, bringing the Almont followers on hand to their feet.
The clock now read all zeroes but their still was a bit more work for Almont before they could head to their lockeroom.
McNally added an accurate extra-point boot, staking Almont to a 14-7 advantage at the halftime break.
When asked by a reporter whether the play before the half went as planned, Ferman couldn't help but smile.
"I really coached him up on that one," Ferman kidded. "That was one of those plays people will be talking about for some time," he noted.
The highlight reel touchdown could have demoralized a lesser team, but instead it just reminded Livonia Clarenceville of the formidable foe they faced.
Livonia Clarenceville came out strong to start the third quarter, taking just 2:35 to put up some points. That series drew to a close with a Darryl Whitaker touchdown tote from three yards out.
Pozniak proved true on the extra-point attempt, squaring the scoreboard count at 14-14 with 9:25 showing on the third quarter clock.
On the ensuing possession, Almont would anwer that tally. Again the touchdown-producing play was of the unconventional variety.
This time McClure took a handoff from Zott at the Livonia Clarenceville 26-yard line, broke containment and appeared headed for the endzone. As he neared the goal-line, he shifted the ball from one arm to the other to avoid an oncoming defender.
While doing that, McClure dropped the ball on the ground. It bounced right back up to him and he took it the rest of the way to paydirt.
McNally followed it up with an accurate extra-point boot, giving Almont a 21-14 advantage with 6:11 showing on the third quarter clock.
Down, but not out, Livonia Clarenceville would battle their way back from some adversity again.
This time around Whitaker got the job done, punching it in on a tote from two yards out. Pozniak's extra-point boot also met with success.
That made it a 21-21 ballgame. There was now 18 seconds remaining on the third quarter clock.
The score would stay the same at quarter's end.
Then, about midway through the fourth quarter, Almont went back out on top. That happened when McClure delivered an 11-yard touchdown tote and McNally connected on an extra-point kick.
Their efforts gave Almont a 28-21 lead at the time. There was now 6:11 remaining.
To Livonia Clarence-ville's credit, they refused to quit. The Trojans dug in and marched the ball down the field, hoping to acquire the equalizer.
That led to a fourth-and-11 situation at the Almont 23-yard line.
It was there Whitaker dropped back to pass and directed a throw to a receiver who was standing near the goal-line.
Enter Almont defender Steve Cassidy. Seeing the action unfold, he reacted and delivered a bone-crunching hit that resulted in an incompletion.
Almont then ran out the clock, assuring themselves of their first-ever district title.
On the evening, Zott finished seven of 12 for 108 yards as Almont's quarterback. He threw zero interceptions along the way.
His successful tosses went to three different targets. Their ranks consisted of Pat Russell (four catches for 73 yards), Dillon Melly (two receptions for 13 yards) and Savage (one catch for 22 yards).
The Almont ground attack added 172 yards on 29 totes.
Individually, McClure (13 rushes for 116 yards) led the way. He was backed by Savage (30 yards on 10 totes), Zott (three rushes for 18 yards), Kyle Pilarski (five yards on one tote) and James Eschenburg (two rushes for three yards).
Tom Chilcote paced the Almont defense with 13 solo stops. He was backed by Ben Strouse (nine solo tackles), Zott (eight) along with Dillon Melly, Jake Ferrell and McClure (six each).