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October 2, 2013

South wins big on homecoming night

Balanced offense leads way for Blue Devils

By Thomas Franz
C & G Sports Writer

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Sophomore running back Garrett Hudson tries to shake off a tackler during South’s 49-7 victory against Roseville on Sept. 27.

GROSSE POINTE — It was a happy homecoming for Grosse Pointe South, as the Blue Devils defeated Roseville 49-7.

Sam Hunter led the Blue Devils on the ground with 17 carries for 138 yards and two touchdowns. Senior quarterback Richie Kish threw for 102 yards on 6-8 passing for two touchdowns.

After junior defensive linemen Brian Mack recovered a Roseville fumble on the Panthers’ opening drive, Hunter ran in a 10-yard touchdown on South’s first offensive play of the game.

From there, the rout was on.

Following a failed fake punt pass attempt by Roseville that was intercepted by Tony Moore, Kish hit Brian Blanzy on a 12-yard touchdown in the left corner of the end zone to give South a 14-0 lead.

After the South defense forced a quick three-and-out, Hunter capped off another scoring drive for South with a 7-yard touchdown to put the Blue Devils ahead by 21. South coach Tim Brandon explained that it was nice to see solid red-zone execution after a 6-0 loss to Utica Eisenhower the week before.

“We moved the ball last week against Ike, so we knew that we could. It was just a matter of finishing — doing the little things right in the red zone to get the ball in the end zone — and that was our focus. I was proud of our kids for taking that next step,” Brandon said. “It’s that red-zone mentality: keeping your foot on the gas pedal and keeping that intensity once you get to that spot to finish it.”

A big part of finishing drives for South was rushing the ball efficiently. South racked up 222 yards on the ground on 29 carries for an average of 7.7 yards per carry. Although South was able to bring in multiple backup running backs to finish the game, Hunter was, and will remain, the go-to threat of the Blue Devils’ backfield because of an injury to Zach Thalgott, South’s other primary ball carrier.

Hunter said that helping his team get off to a quick start against Roseville was crucial to put the Eisenhower game behind them.

“It was very important. Every game from here on out is a playoff game. You can’t afford to lose. Eisenhower was disappointing, but we just had to bounce back, which is what we did,” Hunter said.

Despite already having a 21-0 lead going into the second quarter, South’s offense did not slow down. Kish hooked up with Moore on a 37-yard touchdown to put South up 28-0.

Sam Blanzy then replaced Kish at quarterback and took advantage of the opportunity, connecting with his brother, Brian, on a 20-yard touchdown to give South a 35-0 lead heading into halftime. Through the air, the two South quarterbacks combined to go 8-11 for 135 yards and three touchdowns. Brandon said the balance they were able to get on offense in the first half is what they hope to establish going forward.

“That’s what we’re trying to be — we’re trying to be a balanced offense. We want to spread the ball around, and with Tony (Moore) and Jordan (Spratt) and Brian (Blanzy), we have the receivers to do that. We just have to spread the ball around,” Brandon said.

For Roseville, senior quarterback Trey Kern did his best to keep the Panthers in the game with his feet by gaining 74 yards rushing and a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Despite the score, Brandon said that Kern gave South its truest test against a mobile quarterback so far this year.

“He’s the fourth running quarterback we’ve seen, and he may have been the best pure running quarterback that we’ve seen breaking tackles. He’s a big, strong kid. But once we figured out what their plan was, we kept him pinned in and did a good job,” Brandon said.

The next task ahead for South (2-3) is to not look ahead to an Oct. 11 date with its crosstown rivals in Grosse Pointe North. South will be traveling to Port Huron Northern for a game against the 2-3 Huskies. Brandon stressed the importance of staying on task to ensure that the North contest will still have playoff implications for the Blue Devils.

“I told the kids, two weeks from now doesn’t mean a thing if we don’t take care of this coming week, so our focus will be on Port Huron Northern,” Brandon said. “They run the ball very well; they’re very sound defensively, so it will be a good game. Our effort has to be better next week.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Thomas Franz at tfranz@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1040.