Clinton Township Chippewa Valley junior Myren Harris carries the ball during a Division 1 state final against Clarkston High at Ford Field Nov. 24. The Big Reds won the D-1 state title with a 31-30 victory.

Clinton Township Chippewa Valley junior Myren Harris carries the ball during a Division 1 state final against Clarkston High at Ford Field Nov. 24. The Big Reds won the D-1 state title with a 31-30 victory.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

The completion of a perfect season

Chippewa Valley football edges Clarkston High to win a Division 1 state championship

By: Mark Vest | Fraser - Clinton Township Chronicle | Published November 24, 2018

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DETROIT — Clinton Township Chippewa Valley football completed the most successful season in program history in dramatic fashion, as the Big Reds beat Clarkston High 31-30 in a Division 1 state final Nov. 24 at Ford Field in Detroit.


With the Big Reds leading 31-24, Clarkston scored a touchdown with less than 30 seconds remaining on the game clock.


The Wolves elected to go for a two-point conversion and the victory.


Clarkston ran a reverse, but was stopped short of the end zone courtesy of a tackle by Chippewa senior Michael Garwood.


Following the game, when asked about his decision to go for the two-point conversion, Clarkston coach Kurt Richardson said he wouldn’t change the call.


Chippewa coach Scott Merchant was also a proponent of the decision.


“I give coach Richardson all the credit in the world,” Merchant said. “I think it’s a great call by him. He went for the win.”


The Big Reds finished the season with an overall record of 14-0.


Winning a D-1 title and 14 games are both program firsts (Chippewa won a D-2 championship in 2001).


The Wolves came into the game as the defending D-1 state champs, and Merchant welcomed the opportunity to play them.


“We talked to the kids about that,” Merchant said. “We wouldn’t want it any other way. To be the champ, you got (to) beat the champ. I give Clarkston a ton of credit. They played like champions. They played with hearts of champions today.”


Chippewa scored on its opening possession of the game via a 3-yard run by senior Andre Chenault.


Not long after scoring that touchdown, Chippewa got another big break when senior Ja’Von Kimpson intercepted a pass.


The Big Reds capitalized on the turnover via a touchdown pass from quarterback Tommy Schuster to Martice Bunting on a 38-yard scoring play.


Clarkston’s lone score of the first quarter came on a field goal.


Chippewa led 14-3 after the first quarter of play.


Clarkston’s first touchdown came on a 3-yard run in the second by senior Jacob Honstetter.


Chippewa answered back when senior David Ellis returned a kickoff for a touchdown from 94 yards out.


The Big Reds led 24-10 at the half.


After Clarkston scored the first touchdown of the second half on a 5-yard run by senior Jake Billette in the third, Chippewa once again responded on its next possession when Schuster connected with Bunting on a pass that resulted in a 25-yard scoring play.


Later in the third, with Chippewa up 31-17, Clarkston scored on a 44-yard run by senior quarterback Jake Jensen.


Schuster went 13 for 13 for 205 yards and broke a state final record for completion percentage for quarterbacks with 12 or more pass attempts.


Last season, the Big Reds were on the opposite side of a game that was decided late in the fourth quarter when they lost to Detroit Cass Tech in a regional playoff contest.


That loss served as a source of motivation for Chippewa during the season.


“We made it a point all offseason,” Schuster said. “We wanted to get back and end up winning the state championship. We worked our butts off all offseason, and we made it happen.”


Instead of ending this season with heartbreak, Schuster and his teammates have left a legacy that will be hard to match by Chippewa teams that follow.


“All these guys have done is everything we’ve asked of them,” Merchant said. “First team to ever go 14-0; first Division 1 championship in the history of our school; first team to beat (Utica) Eisenhower twice in one year; first outright MAC Red champions in the history of our school. … I think we played as tough a schedule as anybody in the state. … Obviously, they’ve set the bar extremely high for everybody else who follows after them.”