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Seaholm and Groves football meet to determine league champion

October 23, 2013

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Birmingham Seaholm quarterback Brandon Altman rolls out against Birmingham Groves Oct. 18 at home. The Maples won 28-20 to stay undefeated and secure first place in the OAA Blue.

BIRMINGHAM — Trailing rival Birmingham Groves 12-0 midway through the first quarter, Birmingham Seaholm football coach Jim DeWald pulled his team together and gave a familiar message.

“I looked at the kids and had to bring them together and say, ‘Listen, it’s a long game. It’s not over. They have to go with us for four quarters. I understand they made some big plays, but we have to do what we do,’” DeWald said. “I’ve been preaching it since day one: ‘Do what we do.’”

The Maples responded with 28 straight points, leading to a 28-20 victory Oct. 18 at home.

The matchup, played in front of the largest crowd ever at Seaholm, gave the Maples the Oakland Activities Association Blue Division title.

“We tried to prepare like it was any other game,” Seaholm quarterback Brandon Altman said. “We were a little overwhelmed, but came back with the heart of a Maple.”

The rivals met with both standing at 7-0 overall and 6-0 in the Blue Division. This was the first time since 2001 that Seaholm had a start like this when it finished the year 11-1.

The last time Groves started with seven straight wins was 1978.

The Falcons started fast, leading 12-0 through the first quarter after a 60-yard touchdown pass from Zach Vanfaussien to Cherrod Cohen and a 65-punt return from Ross Williams.

Seaholm responded with a 1-yard plunge from Dominic Sierpien as time ran out in the first quarter to make it 12-7. The Maples then took the lead, again near the end of a quarter, when Altman found Chris Hill for a 4-yard score with 13 second left in the half to make it 14-12.

The Maples kept the momentum early in the third, going up 21-12 with 7:34 remaining in the third, when Nick Vestevich scored from 13 yards out.

Seaholm scored what ended up being the game-winner off a tipped pass on third-and-24. Altman made the throw, which was tipped up in the air by the intended receiver and landed in Kerry Mott’s hands for a 39-yard score with just more than nine minutes left in the third to make it 28-12.

“You know, we’ve got a lot of breaks the last four years, especially against Groves,” Altman said. “That’s just one of those special moments that only happens in the Groves game and a game like this.”

Groves fought back to make it 28-20 when Bryce Anderson ran it in from 1 yard out with 3:30 remaining. The Falcons would get another chance but couldn’t get past their own 36-yard line.

“I thought our offense sputtered. We tried to stay on schedule, and they got us off schedule. So instead of being second-and-6, we’re second-and-12. From there, we can’t get Ross the ball effectively and do our stuff,” Groves coach Brendan Flaherty said, adding that he felt bad for the seniors but wouldn’t let this one loss start a downward trend.

“(The seniors) gave everything they could, and when it came down to it, they made a couple more plays than we did,” he said.

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