DEWITT – J.D. Ross isn’t always the most locked in of DeWitt’s players before games.
But Evan Conn noticed something different from Ross on Friday.
“He’s the most talkative guy I’ve ever met, but I love him,” Conn said. “In the locker room and coming out here and running routes early in the game, he was just dialed in.”
And a dialed-in Ross provided the DeWitt football team with a lift — and created big problems for St. Johns.
The junior running back rushed for three long scores and added a touchdown reception as the Division 3 No. 4-ranked Panthers captured the CAAC Red title with a 49-21 victory over St. Johns.
Ross had touchdown runs of 83, 59 and 33 yards and added a 49-yard reception for a score to help DeWitt capture its 10th consecutive league title.
“It feels amazing,” said Ross, who had 184 rushing yards in the opening half. “We were doubted the whole offseason and just to show everybody that we can play and we can beat people is a great feeling.”
Senior receiver ShonQuise Trainor added a pair of TD runs and senior tight end Evan Conn caught a touchdown pass from Will Nagel to help the Panthers (7-0, 5-0 CAAC Red) win their 38th straight conference game and 26th consecutive regular-season contest.
“As many people as there that doubted this team going into the season and the way that they progressed — we played our best game of the season by far tonight,” DeWitt coach Rob Zimmerman said. “St. Johns is a tremendous football team, but our kids played lights out. I could not be more proud of them. It’s great to win the league championship and to win 10 in a row is pretty special.”
Shayne Cullen, Michael Stygles and Collin Smith each had interceptions to contribute to the big night for DeWitt, which had its second-highest scoring game of the season.
Steven Linton and Blake Stewart ran for scores and Ryan Simon had a touchdown catch for St. Johns, which had its four-game winning streak halted.
Ross had three rushing scores in the opening half to put the Panthers in control. But the Redwings (5-2, 4-1) pulled within two scores on Stewart’s 85-yard touchdown run in the middle stages of the third quarter.
DeWitt responded when Nagel connected with Ross on a 49-yard TD on a third-and-16. The Panthers then converted a pair of Blake Thelen interceptions later in the quarter into scores to pull away.
“It’s hard when we have a big play and they turn around and do the same thing right back at us,” St. Johns senior receiver/linebacker Ryan Wheeler said. “We’ve just got to overcome adversity.”
Contact Brian Calloway at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.