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Division 5 state football finals was a quarterback’s paradise

By: Scott Burnstein, November 29, 2014, 9:00 pm

DETROIT – The quarterback quotient was high Saturday night in the 2014 Division 5 state football finals.

Grand Rapids West Catholic senior Travis Russell and Lansing Catholic Central junior Tony Poljan, two of the top signal-callers in the state squared off under the bright lights of Ford Field and man was it a doozy.

Russell and his Falcons out-dueled Poljan and the Cougars 24-20 for West Catholic’s second crown in a row.

Both field generals are dandy dual-threats and had strong outings, with Russell throwing for 205 yards and rushing for 135 yards and Poljan charting 270 yards through the air and 70 yards on the ground. They each had three touchdowns, as Russell scored twice on runs and once in the air and Poljan throwing a pair and ran in another.

The offensive fireworks were coming in waves late.

Poljan’s 22-yard touchdown connection with receiver Tony Palmer at the 7:38 mark of the fourth quarter placed C.C. in front 20-17.

Then, Russell answered – and won the game for his team. Spearheading a 17-play drive that took six minutes off the clock, his 3-yard scamper into the end zone with less than 90 seconds left boosted West Catholic into a lead it wouldn’t surrender.

Set to graduate in June, Russell will leave the Falcons program after guiding it to three straight state championship games and capturing back-to-back state titles.

“I’ve had an amazing time at West Catholic, I’m so grateful for everything we accomplished,” he said. “What I did and what the team did these last few seasons is a testament to the school, the coaches, the teachers and the entire community that support us. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better career to have as a player in high school.”

Russell’s plans for college are still undetermined (he hasn’t chosen a school to play at yet).

Poljan has to decide whether it will be football or basketball for him at the next level – the 6-7 playmaker is an all-state pick in both sports.

The loss on Saturday was hard to swallow, but only serves as motivation for the future for him and his Cougars teammates.

“We’re a family at Lansing Catholic Central, we’re going to learn from this and it’s going to make us more dangerous, more prepared down the road.”

The pair of gridiron gunslingers left Ford Field this weekend with nothing but tremendous respect for each other.

“Tony is such a great player, he makes so many different positive things happen for his team,” Russell said.

Poljan concurred when asked about his adversary in the pocket.

“He’s a really, really good player and showed a lot of poise tonight,” he said. “I think he’s a spectacular quarterback and I wish him the best of looking going forward.”