Stevenson wide receiver Ahmad Hrhor hauls in a throw from Knight.

Stevenson wide receiver Ahmad Hrhor hauls in a throw from Knight.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Stevenson bests Novi 21-7 behind defensive showing

By: Jonathan Szczepaniak | C&G Newspapers | Published August 31, 2023

 Sterling Heights Stevenson linebacker Evan Watson collects a sack against Novi.

Sterling Heights Stevenson linebacker Evan Watson collects a sack against Novi.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

STERLING HEIGHTS/NOVI — All eyes were on Sterling Heights Stevenson football this year as they faced a tough road matchup against Novi High School Aug. 25.

A program accustomed to winning and playing in the playoff lights fell short in 2022, and they were ready to show everyone just how dangerous they’re going to be this year.

Behind sophomore quarterback Andrew Knight and a stacked defense, Stevenson routed Novi 21-7 to pick up a statement win to start the Titans’ season.

Knight threw for 169 yards and two touchdowns while running back Alex DeLorey ran for 113 yards and a touchdown in the win, but the defense was the topic of conversation for Stevenson.

“I thought we were a physical football team on Friday,” Stevenson coach Justin Newcomb said. “Our kids really came to play. They played hard and they hustled to the ball. It wasn’t just one guy making a tackle. It was multiple guys coming into the tackle, causing fumbles and getting to the quarterback.”

Stevenson took a 14-0 lead into halftime behind a pair of Knight touchdown passes and would tack on an insurance touchdown in the fourth quarter to earn the win.

If Stevenson is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the Macomb Area Conference Red, their defensive effort needs to be at the forefront of their success, and their front seven showcased just what they can bring to the table in the win.

Recording six sacks and a forced fumble in the win, Stevenson’s defense suffocated the Wildcats offense throughout the entirety of the game.

Will Olds (1), Ty Jenkins (1), Malachi Craft (1), Evan Watson (2), and Govanni Kelyana (1) each recorded sacks in the win while Olds and Caden Bollinger led the team with eight tackles apiece. Craft also forced a fumble with Olds earning the recovery.

Stevenson’s defense held Novi to only 238 total yards on the day, and Bollinger said their defense is just getting started.

“Our defensive unit is made up of the craziest and most passionate people I have ever met, including our defensive coordinator,” Bollinger said. “The men on our defense care so much about our performance that if any one of us falls short of greatness, we are right there to hold each other accountable.”

While Stevenson’s defense garnered a bulk of the attention, and rightfully so, Knight’s sophomore campaign will be one to keep an eye on throughout the year, and it doesn’t get much better than a touchdown on your first pass attempt of the year as Knight connected with Ahmed Al-Awsy for a 40-yard touchdown to give Stevenson an early 7-0 lead.

Knight would find Lucas Timbuc for a 76-yard touchdown late in the second quarter to give Stevenson a 14-0 lead at the half.

Knight would exit the game after the first half due to illness, and Jenkins would finish off the job under center to earn the win.

When you talk about a dynamic offense this season in the MAC, Stevenson has to be at the top of the list.

DeLorey and running back Jaiden Alston, who had six rushes for 57 yards in the win, have the potential to be one of the better running back duos in the county.

Between both the air and on the ground, Knight has shown he has the tools to lead the offense, and he has an abundance of weapons at his disposal with Al-Awsy, Timbuc and Ahmad Hrhor, who hauled in four receptions for 86 yards in the win.

DeLorey said a bulk of the offensive success is credited to the Stevenson offensive line.

“Our offensive line has really stepped up, and they work well and communicate to give time for Andrew (Knight) to find receivers and make critical blocks to give Jaiden (Alston) and I the best running window we could have,” DeLorey said.

Stevenson will have a MAC crossover game against MAC-White’s St. Clair Shores Lakeview on Aug. 31 at Lakeview High School.

The Stevenson of 2022 is all grown up, and the young players turned veterans are ready to show what Stevenson football can do.

“I feel like this season, we’re playing with something to prove,” Jenkins said. “We know we can do a lot better and we’re here to show we can.”