Walled Lake Western football dominating, with no end in sight

By: Mike Moore | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published October 9, 2013

WALLED LAKE — He’s succinct and emphatic in how his team has arrived where it is now.

He’s hardly surprised at the dominant journey that’s been taken, and looking forward, he’s confident there are more celebrations to come.

Mike Zdebski is enjoying the fall of 2013, especially on Friday nights.

“This is a great group of guys,” the Walled Lake Western football coach said last week. “There’s a lot of hard work that’s gone into this, especially during the week. But come Friday, there aren’t many things better.”

As Zdebski spoke, he and his guys were preparing for the sixth game of the season, an Oct. 4 contest against Waterford Mott, played after press time.

Heavily favored in the game, Western was 5-0 and averaging more than 41 points per game while giving up roughly 18.

“Our kids worked so hard in the offseason, and I think it’s just a matter of them getting better every single week,” Zdebski said. “That’s what we’ve been able to do. We’re, essentially, right where we expected to be when the season began.”

The Warriors went 9-3 last year, eventually falling to Brother Rice in a Division 2 regional final that was closer than the 42-12 final would suggest.

That loss was hardly the end, however.

When camp opened this year, Western had eight returning starters on the defensive side of the ball and seven on the offensive side of things.

The team speed has been a main source of production, as the offense has scored fewer than 38 points only once this season, a 27-0 shutout of White Lake Lakeland.

The playmakers have done their part, as well.

Quarterback Kyle Bambard picked up right where he left off in 2012.

The senior had passed for 1,061 yards at press time, with 14 touchdowns and just two interceptions. He’d also rushed for a team-high 391 yards on 49 carries with four more touchdowns, while chipping in 22 extra points and six field goals.

Senior Jonathan Simmons had rushed for 135 yards, second to Bambard, but had 19 catches for 438 yards and five touchdowns.

David Walczyk has served as a third threat, hauling in a team-high 26 catches for 431 yards and seven touchdowns.

A win against Mott (2-3) would assure Western the top spot in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association North Division with one divisional game remaining, Oct. 11 against a 1-4 Walled Lake Central team.

But the big picture is the big goal for a Warriors team that reached the Division 2 regional final last year after making it to the state semifinal in 2011.

“If you go by some of the rankings and some of the other stats out there, and you base it off that, we should be favored against anyone we see,” Zdebski said. “But the kids still have to come out and play. If they execute the way they can, we could have a long playoff run in front of us.”

In eight playoff appearances since 2004, Western has been in the Division 2 bracket every time. But Zdebski believes his guys will fall into the D-1 bracket this fall, for the first time since 2003.

“I think I can safely say we’re going to get one win in the final four weeks, and if we do that, I have to believe we’ll be in Division 1, and we’re going to see the Shamrocks at some point,” Zdebski prognosticated about a potential matchup with Novi Detroit Catholic Central, a 4-1 team that has lost each of the past two state title games to Detroit Cass Tech.

“Nothing is going to come easy, for anybody, come playoff time,” he added. “When you get to the postseason, every team is a great challenge.”