DETROIT – Record-setting running back Jared Smith couldn’t get much of anything going on the ground. That didn’t matter for the Pewamo-Westphalia football team.
The No. 2-ranked Pirates found other ways to get things done in a Division 7 state championship game Saturday morning at Ford Field, and they walked away with the first football state championship in the school’s history.
Jimmy Lehman threw for 127 yards and a pair of touchdowns passes to Logan Hengesbach as P-W capped a perfect season with a 28-14 victory over No. 5-ranked Detroit Loyola.
“This feeling is amazing,” P-W senior Ryan Smith said. “We knew right after the state finals last year (when we lost), we needed to get back and change what happened last year, and that’s what we did. We worked hard in the offseason, and, even through the season, we got better.”
Ryan Smith and Lehman each added touchdown runs for the Pirates, who knocked off the four other teams ranked in the top five of the final Associated Press Division 7 state rankings to capture the state championship.
“We peaked at the right time,” said Jared Smith, who was held to 48 rushing yards. “We’ve got so many athletes on the team, and they all came out and did one heck of a job all year. I can’t complain about anything today. The defense was dominant. The offense – we had a lot of options to go to with Logan making plays like that, with Ryan running it and Bryce running it. When you’ve got options like that, it’s hard to stop a team.”
Keith Johnson and D’Vaun Bentley had touchdowns for Detroit Loyola (11-3), which had its season ended by the Pirates for a second straight year.
The contest remained scoreless until late in the second quarter. The Pirates (14-0) broke through when Lehman threw a 14-yard touchdown to Hengesbach.
The pair hooked up again for a score with 4:56 left in the third quarter, when Hengebach made a leaping grab for a 37-yard touchdown.
Ryan Smith added to the Pirates’ lead with a 2-yard touchdown run in the final minute of the third quarter that made the score 21-0.
Loyola, which averaged 45.25 points in the playoffs prior to Saturday, didn’t find the end zone until the middle of the fourth quarter. By then, it was too late to stop the Pirates breaking through for a state title that capped a successful fall season for the school. The Pirates also earned a boys cross country state title and a runner-up finish at the state meet for girls cross country.
Pewamo-Westphalia coach Jeremy Miller couldn’t quite put into words the meaning of leading his alma mater to the historic football crown.
“I dreamt about it as a kid, I dreamt about it as a player and never even sniffed it here,” Miller said. “More than anything, I just feel fortunate I get to work with these guys. In the end, you’re working with the product the parents give us. Our parents won this state championship by giving us their absolute best. Any one of those kids, you’d be happy to have on your team.
“More than anything I’m happy to do this for the community, because they give us some great kids to work with.”