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Chippewa Valley holds off Lake Orion for season opening win, 35-28

By: Ben Szilagy, August 28, 2015, 12:30 pm

Detroit — The football season couldn’t have started fast enough for the Clinton Township Chippewa Valley community.

A few short weeks ago, the Big Reds were in mourning as two players, senior Duncan Blair and junior Alex Mackmin, didn’t dress for fall camp let alone the first game of the season.

Both Blair and Mackmin passed away leaving a void not only on the football field, the roster, but also in the hearts of their teammates.

While playing in their memory, Chippewa Valley beat Lake Orion 35-28 in the Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State on Friday night.

“We have a lot of veterans back, and we knew if we could take care of the football and executed we knew we could score some points,” Big Reds coach Scott Merchant said.

“It’s been a tough sixteen months. And for these kids had to experience what most 16 and 17-year-olds don’t. Football is the only distraction that we have.”

The game was tied 14-14 at halftime.

Chippewa Valley capped a 72-yard drive with 2:13 left in the half on a four-yard touchdown run by senior Jordan Flakes to tie the game in the second quarter, while senior quarterback Pat Briningstool notched a touchdown run of his own in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.

Lake Orion recovered with the help of a big play from sophomore quarterback Caden Prieskorn to senior Jalyen Wiggins who caught a 68-yard touchdown for a 7-7 tie with 1:41 in the first quarter.

Junior Danny White gave the Dragons a 14-7 their last lead of the night on a 1-yard touchdown run with 8:17 left in the half.

In the third quarter Briningstool went back to work with the help of his offensive line. The Prep Kickoff Classic M-V-P award winner utilized his pocket and connected on a big strike of his own to Stefan Claiborn for a 55-yard touchdown for a 21-14 lead with 5:51 left in the third quarter.

“It was big. We talked about completing big passes at the half,” Briningstool said.  “We made the adjustment, and my offensive line held me up. Plays like that are all about trust.”

Prieskorn who went 12-of-14 for 170 yards and three touchdowns connected on a two-yard rollout to Tyler Barkeley for a 21-21 tie. He’d answer another Briningstool touchdown with 7:05 left in the fourth quarter on a 9-yard touchdown pass to Wiggins.

“He had great poise for us tonight,” Lake Orion coach Chris Bell said. “He made some mistakes that you’d expect from a sophomore, but he’ll get better. The level he played at tonight was incredible.”

The Dragons also had a big night from junior Keith Fields who had 24 carries for 128 yards who helped gash Chippewa Valley throughout the night.

But after a costly turnover, the Big Reds went back to their senior to cap the game, 35-28 with a 1-yard touchdown run from Briningstool with 3:37 to play.

The 25 mile long bus ride was quiet as the team focused on the game ahead, according to Briningstool. The players wanted to treat Thursday night like any other night.

“Football is what we need right now. Our brothers (Mackmin and Blair) should have been here tonight. But, they’re not. We know they should be out here. Other plans were set for them,” he said.

“Going forward, we have to go out on the field and play with everything we have because Duncan and Alex would have given everything that they had.”