Birmingham Seaholm coach Jim DeWald relays a play to quarterback Caleb Knoer Sept. 6 during a game against Rochester Hills Stoney Creek on the road. Knoer threw a touchdown in the Maples 20-13 win.

Birmingham Seaholm coach Jim DeWald relays a play to quarterback Caleb Knoer Sept. 6 during a game against Rochester Hills Stoney Creek on the road. Knoer threw a touchdown in the Maples 20-13 win.

Photo by Donna Agusti


Seaholm tops Stoney in OAA White battle

By: Jacob Herbert | C&G Newspapers | Published September 6, 2019

 Stoney Creek running back Zach Denha carries the ball in a recent home game against Seaholm. The Cougars fall to 1-1 on the season with the loss.

Stoney Creek running back Zach Denha carries the ball in a recent home game against Seaholm. The Cougars fall to 1-1 on the season with the loss.

Photo by Donna Agusti

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ROCHESTER HILLS — It came down to the last play, but a dynamic rushing attack and a bend, but not break defense was enough to help Birmingham Seaholm (2-0 overall, 1-0 Oakland Activities Association White) get past Rochester Hills Stoney Creek (1-1 overall, 0-1 OAA White) 20-13 Sept. 6 on the road.

“This is huge,” Maples coach Jim DeWald said about the win. “We knew going in that they were a physical, and well-coached team. That’s a really good football team.”

With less than two minutes to play in the game, a botched punt from the Maples set up the Cougars at their own 32-yard line. 

After a sack, an incomplete pass and a penalty on third down, Stoney quarterback Ryan Eckhout found Zach Denha on a fourth-and-11 conversion, setting up the Cougars just inside Maples territory.

A series of sacks and penalties gave the Cougars a third and 28 from their own 48-yard line. Eckhout tossed up a prayer toward the end zone but the ball was knocked away by a Seaholm defender and the game was over.

“The entire game was a dog fight,” Seaholm senior Chaz Strecker said. “I couldn’t have asked for more of an effort from my teammates. Everybody pitched in for the entire four quarters.”

Seaholm opened the scoring on its first drive of the game as Justin Klotz made a 24-yard field goal to put the Maples up 3-0. 

On the ensuing Stoney possession, Denha turned the ball over on a fumble and it was recovered by Seaholm junior Jack Jurkovich. The Maples made quick work of the turnover as Strecker extended the lead to 10-0 on an 8-yard run just a few plays later.

“He’s a great kid,” DeWald said. "He didn’t play last year because of an injury. He’s just tough and he gets better as time goes on.”

The Cougars, who showed fight until the final whistle, scored just before the break to bring the game to within a field goal. Eckhout found junior receiver Ozzy Villafuerte Esparza on an 8-yard strike to make it a 10-7 game.

The Cougars opened the second half with the ball and the chance to take a lead. The Maple defense had other ideas as it stood tall, stopping a Stoney fourth-and-9 conversion attempt.

“That stop was huge, because we felt like they had all the momentum coming out of the half. I thought we had the game in hand in the first half then they came down, drove and scored before the half," DeWald said. "I thought that stole them the momentum. So that stop was huge.”

The Maples were able to add to their lead as the third quarter came to a close. Quarterback Caleb Knoer found slotback William McBride on a 39-yard strike to give the Maples the 17-7 lead.

Klotz concluded the Maples scoring with 3:32 to play when the senior booted another field goal to make it 20-7.

The Cougars, however, weren’t going to give up so easily. Stoney coach Nick Merlo praised his team’s resilience.

“That’s who they are,” Merlo said. “They’re elite men of character, they’ve bought into our culture and they’re going to give you everything they’ve got for 48 minutes."

As the clock ticked down under two minutes, Denha took a direct snap and found paydirt, pulling the game to within a touchdown. McBride would block the ensuing extra point.

The Maples will look to continue their winning ways when they take on Troy High at 7 p.m. Sept. 13 on the road.

Stoney will try to bounce back when it hosts Troy Athens at 7 p.m. Sept. 13.

“We’ve got to tighten things up,” Merlo said. “The OAA is an elite league, and we’ve got to tighten things up and be better all the time.”

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