Football fans of Lansing can now rejoice.
It took all nine weeks of the high school football regular season, but the City of Lansing will once again be represented in the football playoffs after all three schools were absent a season ago.
Sexton carried the torch for Lansing in the 2014 playoffs all the way to the Division 4 state title game, and it’s the Big Reds who picked it up and dusted it off by grabbing their postseason-clinching sixth win Friday night.
Sexton defeated Eastern, 39-6, for its second victory in two weeks at Sexton High School.
“I definitely feel like Lansing should always be represented (in the playoffs),” said Big Reds coach Dan Boggan, who has taken Sexton to the playoffs 10 times since taking over in 2002. “We have a ton of talent here. We’re happy to be the school representing Lansing this year.
“I’m happy to have my kids. We don’t have a lot of players, but we have committed players who put in effort to win here.”
The Big Reds (6-3, 5-2) scored on their first offensive possession when junior tailback Ratavian Rinkines capped an eight-play, 65-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown run. Sexton added to its total on its next drive after tailback Byron Pierce ran in a 1-yard touchdown. The score, which made it 12-0 in favor of the Big Reds, was prefaced by a 21-yard run from Karey Faulkner.
Senior defensive back Andwele Pulliam put the Quakers (0-9, 0-7) in position for their first score when he intercepted Sexton’s Marcus Alston midway through the second quarter. However, Pulliam, who also plays tailback, fumbled on Eastern’s next play, and the Big Reds went on to capitalize with a 50-yard touchdown pass from Alston to senior wideout Jalen Faulkner to take a 20-0 lead.
“We wanted to get a big lead early,” said Faulkner, who also had a 27-yard touchdown reception just before halftime. “We have a great opportunity to do big things for Lansing and Sexton.”
The Quakers nearly scored with about three minutes remaining in the half when quarterback Markel Edwards let loose a 35-yard pass to Markiest Doss, but the senior wide receiver dropped it on the goal line.
Sexton was scheduled to start the second half on offense, but Dijimon Slaughter fumbled on the kick-off return and Eastern recovered deep in Big Reds territory. The Quakers, who have only scored 19 points all season, got the ball down to the 1-yard line, but Edwards fumbled the ball on his quarterback sneak attempt and it was recovered by Sexton.
After a scoreless third quarter, the Big Reds’ Khari Foy-Walton and Rinkines each scored a touchdown in the final 12 minutes.
Eastern got its first touchdown of the game late in the fourth quarter when Matt Nguyen, who was diagnosed with a brain tumor last winter, scored on a 62-yard touchdown reception on his first play of the season.
“We wanted to leave it all out on the field,” Pulliam said. “It was our last game of the season and we wanted to show them what we had. …We lost but it was a good game, a good fight, and they’re a good team.”
Contact James L. Edwards III at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JLEdwardsIII.