Loss to Rice won’t deter program history for Walled Lake Western
November 15, 2012
Fielding questions regarding the future is hardly uncommon for coaches in the postseason, especially when speaking after a loss.
There’s always a sense of hope for what next year may have to offer, or how the lessons of one season will parlay to greater success in the next.
Yet, as Mike Zdebski stood at midfield, following a Nov. 9 regional final, looking forward wasn’t something he was prepared to do.
Not just yet, anyway.
“Right now, I just want to focus on this team, especially this senior class,” the Walled Lake Western football coach said with a smile. “They were great. They’re the first team in the history of our school to win back-to-back district championships. They’re the first group of kids that made it to the regional finals in back-to-back years.”
Zdebski spoke just moments after the 2012 season concluded in less-than-dramatic fashion.
Western hosted defending Division 2 champion Birmingham Brother Rice, and as Zdebski would later say, it wasn’t his guys’ night.
Rice jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, but a 52-yard field goal by junior Kyle Bambard and a defensive safety early in the second cut the deficit to just 7-5.
Rice took over from there, scoring four second-quarter touchdowns en route to a 42-12 victory and a spot in the state semifinals.
“Sometimes, you just can’t explain games like this,” Rice coach Al Fracassa said, adding that he and his guys were very uneasy preparing for a Western team that was riding a seven-game winning streak and averaging more than 35 points coming into the night. “Everything went our way tonight.”
“It was a tough night,” Zdebski said simply. “But we just lost to a very good team.”
His wasn’t too shabby, either.
After starting the year 2-2, Western found its groove.
The Warriors didn’t just win seven straight; they seemingly dominated just about every opponent on their way to a playoff bid.
From Week 5 through the end of the regular season, the Warriors scored 40 or more points four different times, allowed more than two touchdowns just once and won by an average of 26 points.
When the playoffs began, they edged Farmington High 31-28, and then rolled past Fenton High 49-27.
That win, as Zdebski ex-plained, coupled with last year’s trip to the D-2 semifinals, marked the first time in program history Western had advanced to the regional round in consecutive seasons.
“The score doesn’t show it tonight, but these guys did a wonderful job all year,” he said. “That’s their legacy to this program.”
Western ended the year 9-3.
“It was a great season,” Zdebski added. “We improved significantly as the year went on, and we’ll build upon what these guys are leaving behind.”