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Algonac’s defense steps up once again, leads Muskrats to 13-0 win over Almont for first district title

By: Jeff Dullack, November 7, 2015, 9:32 pm

Algonac – What a difference a year makes.

One year after finishing the season with a 1-8 record, Algonac found itself in the second round of the playoffs, preparing to face Almont for a second time this season.

And much like the first time the two teams met, the Algonac defense was dominant from start to finish as the Muskrats shut out Almont to earn a 13-0 win and the first district title in school history.

Algonac coach Scott Barnhart said that his team’s usual stout defense was on top of its game once again on Friday night and credited defensive coordinator Jeff Smith for the unit’s play all season long.

“Same thing it’s done all year,” he said. “They play great team defense and coach works real hard with the boys on and off the field and it shows every week. They play with a lot of confidence, they know their scheme and they know the rules and they go out and execute.”

With the Muskrats clinging to a 7-0 lead and Almont driving inside Algonac territory early on in the fourth quarter, Algonac’s defense stepped up in a big way as Maison Graham registered a sack that would eventually force Almont to punt the ball away.

On the ensuing drive, Algonac would drive 90 yards down the field on a drive that would take over seven minutes off the clock, converting on a pair of fourth downs, including an 11-yard pass from quarterback A.J. Garshott to Luke Stephenson to keep the drive alive with less than five minutes to play.

Algonac would then cap off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run by Garshott to push the Algonac lead to 13-0 with just 2:27 left to play.

“It was mainly ball security,” Garshott said of what the key for the scoring drive was. “That was a bit of an issue for us, but we held onto the ball, we chunked them and we got the blocks when we needed them.”

Barnhart said that while he would have liked to see his team have a big play late in the game, he was pleased his offense was able to take time off of the clock, while also being able to pad its lead.

“Well, we took some time off the clock, but I’d like to think that maybe we’d be a little more explosive there,” he said. “But they (Almont) have a great defense and we were still able to get our fours and fives and move the chains and hang onto the ball for a little bit.”

Algonac started the game with a touchdown on its second drive of the game as Shane Asselin would score on a 3-yard run to give the Muskrats a 7-0 lead with 4:31 left in the first quarter.

With Algonac reaching new heights with the win, Garshott said that this is only the beginning for the Muskrats.

“It’s just the start of something new,” he said. “It’s not going down from here, it’s only going to go up.”

Barnhart said that to win a district title is something special to the Algonac community.

“It means everything to our community,” he said. “The fan base is tremendous and they’re all genuine people. It’s a great time to be a Muskrat.”

Algonac will face River Rouge next week in the regional finals looking to advance to the Division 5 state semifinals.