CLINTON TOWNSHIP – Chippewa Valley’s football team picked up a big win in its home opener as the Big Reds downed Utica Eisenhower 21-7 Sept. 7.
Chippewa made the majority of the big plays on the night to win the Macomb Area Conference Red Division showdown against Ike, the defending division champs who lost in last year’s state semifinal and have been highly ranked this season.
“It’s pretty big,” Chippewa coach Scott Merchant said after the game. “Nobody gave us a chance tonight.”
The Big Reds limited the visiting Eagles chances on the night, forcing five turnovers, including three interceptions in the redzone. Chippewa senior corner Jerry Taylor made two of the big picks in the first half, while junior defensive back Khaleel Haamid and senior defensive back Marcus France added a pair of picks late in the contest to ice the game.
Senior lineman Ki’Shon Johnson recovered a fumble in the first half and helped lead a stout defense effort on the interior of the trenches all game long with junior lineman Sicelo Robinson and senior linebacker Chuck Ahee, limiting Ike’s rushing attack.
Chippewa got on the board first when Big Reds junior quarterback Brendan Rohlfs nailed Haamid, who also plays receiver, with a bullet pass over the middle. Haamid then raced down the field for a 50-yard score and senior Szabolcs Simo converted his first of three successful extra points on the night to make it 7-0 with 7:34 left in the first quarter.
Ike answered with a big scoring pass play of its own, as senior quarterback Joe Zerafa connected with junior receiver Dan Chmielewski in the end zone on a 24-yard pass with 1:29 left in the opening quarter. Junior kicker Eric Dulinski converted the point after to make it 7-7.
The Big Reds went back on top with another big pass over the middle, as Rohlfs hit Taylor, another two-way playmaker for Chippewa, and the senior sprinted away into the end zone for a nearly 70-yard scoring play with 6:43 remaining in the third quarter.
Chippewa senior running back Graylyn Claiborne capped the scoring with a 10-yard run early in the fourth quarter. Claiborne and junior running back Doug Roberts were the beneficiaries of some solid blocking by the Big Reds’ offensive line.
The Big Reds (2-1 overall, 1-1 MAC Red) next take on Grosse Pointe North at 7 p.m. Sept. 14 at home.
The Eagles (2-1 overall, 1-1 MAC Red), meanwhile, will try and bounce back against Grosse Pointe South at 7 p.m. Sept. 14 at home.
“Chippewa Valley, we knew they were a good team. We knew coming into the season they’d be one of the top teams in the MAC Red, and obviously, they are,” Ike coach Chris Smith said. “We knew they’d be up for us. They beat us up at the line of scrimmage, and they hit some big plays on us.
“It’s a loss. Iit hurts a little bit. But we’ve got to go back, watch the film and get better.”