Groves downs Seaholm in D-2 district semifinal

By: Zachary Manning | Online Only | Published November 6, 2020

 Birmingham Groves' Stavros Panos tries to outrun a Birmingham Seaholm defender Nov. 6. Groves won 30-21.

Birmingham Groves' Stavros Panos tries to outrun a Birmingham Seaholm defender Nov. 6. Groves won 30-21.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

 Birmingham Seaholm's Jackson Vance carries the ball against Birmingham Groves Nov. 6. Seaholm finished the year with a 5-3 overall record.

Birmingham Seaholm's Jackson Vance carries the ball against Birmingham Groves Nov. 6. Seaholm finished the year with a 5-3 overall record.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

BIRMINGHAM — As back and forth as the rivalry has been the last couple of years, it was only fitting that Birmingham Seaholm and Birmingham Groves were able to meet in the playoffs Nov. 6.

The Maples got the better of the Falcons in last year’s playoffs on their way to a Division 2 semifinal appearance. Seaholm also beat Groves 35-28 earlier this year. Prior to those two meetings, Groves had won seven in a row.

Like most rivalries, the two squads remained close throughout, with the game coming down to the final minutes. With Groves leading 23-15 late in the fourth quarter, the Maples put together a five-play touchdown drive to get within 2.

They failed the ensuing 2-point conversion but were able to get a stop on defense. With just 1:30 remaining, Seaholm had one last chance. However, Groves’ Myles Mooyoung picked off a pass and returned it for a touchdown, securing a 30-21 victory for the Falcons.

“I think Kaleb Garner, who’s playing quarterback for us, just does an amazing job keeping plays alive,” Falcons coach Brendan Flaherty said. “He just keeps plays alive and gives ourselves a chance. The other thing that helps is just the overall thing, if we can stay on schedule and not get behind the chains, that helps us out a bunch too.”

Groves got two receiving scores from Orion Kendra, with one coming from 17 yards out and the other being a 22-yarder. Stavros Panos also returned a punt for a touchdown in the contest.

Defense played a pivotal role in Groves’ victory as the Falcons held the high-flying Maples offense to 14 points. Entering the game, Seaholm was averaging just over 26 points per game.

With the win, Groves moves on to play Warren Mott in a district final. The time and date were not available at press time.

“I think the defensive coaches did an amazing job,” Flaherty said. “I think our defense really stepped up tonight, and that was it. We made some plays on offense, but defense stood up.”

The loss concludes Seaholm’s season with a 5-3 overall record. The Maples finished second in the Oakland Activities Association White Division.

Outside of the defensive score, Seaholm quarterback Caleb Knoer was able to find the end zone from 4 yards out, while Will McBride’s 11-yard touchdown cut the game to two. The Maples also got a defensive score from Jake LaBarre.

“They did a good job. They just outplayed us tonight,” Maples coach Jim DeWald said. “They definitely had our number tonight, and they beat us.”

Despite the loss, DeWald was proud of the way his kids fought throughout the game. Even after being down a couple of scores, he noted his kids never quit.

“That’s who our kids are, they fight to the end,” DeWald said. “We play with grit, toughness. They play for four quarters. I’m proud of our kids.”