WLW’s Zdebski calls clash with Central ‘the biggest game of the season’

By: Mike Moore | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published October 2, 2012

 Walled Lake Western junior Malik Green carries the ball during a Sept. 25 practice. Western is set to take on Central Oct. 5.

Walled Lake Western junior Malik Green carries the ball during a Sept. 25 practice. Western is set to take on Central Oct. 5.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

It’s just one of nine games on the schedule, a midseason contest still weeks away from the tensions of playoff time.

But when the Walled Lake Central and the Walled Lake Northern football teams meet, well, it’s usually a battle unlike any other.

“It’s the biggest game of the season, the biggest game on our schedule just because of who it’s against,” Western coach Mike Zdebski said last week. “It’ll be a packed house, a great atmosphere and a bunch of people split down the middle on who they are pulling for. It’s always an awesome time.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at Western.

“We’re going to have to run the ball and stop the run,” Zdebski said simply when asked the keys to win. “When we’ve been successful against them, that’s what’s worked. When they’ve been successful with us, they’ve been able to run it on us. That’s just the type of football both these teams play and always have.”

The series has been more or less split the past handful of years.

On its way to an 11-1 record in 2011, Western defeated Central 18-11 last October.

Central won the 2010 meeting 40-7, and the previous 10 games between the two since 2002 were split, with five wins apiece.

This year, both teams were 3-2; Week 6 games were played after press time.

So, even with the best case scenario for both, 4-2 records will mean two wins would be needed in the final three weeks just to make the playoffs.

“Where we’re at right now, we have to literally win a majority of our games just to have a chance at the postseason,” Zdebski explained.

Offense has been the key in the Warriors’ three wins, which came in their last four games.

Against South Lyon East, White Lake Lakeland and Waterford Kettering, Western averaged 40.3 points per game. The defense, meanwhile, allowed just 29 points total.

The lone loss in the past four was a 17-10 setback to Walled Lake Northern (3-2).

“I think we’ve done a good job adjusting some things offensively to get our kids in space,” Zdebski said of the offense’s prowess. “We’ve modified our attack a bit based on the strength of our guys, and I think it’s working pretty well.”

How things work against Central, and the rest of the season for that matter, only time will tell. As for now, Zdebski said his focus remains simply on this game and finding a way to get one win.

“It’s the best part of the season for us coaches,” he said. “This is the game we look forward to. This is the week we enjoy the most.”

Central coach Bob Meyer did not return calls to comment on the Oct. 5 game.