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East Kentwood turns in dominant defensive effort, shuts out St. Mary’s to improve to 2-0

By: Jeff Dullack, September 2, 2017, 12:13 am

Orchard Lake – If you ask East Kentwood head coach Tony Kimbrough, chances are he’ll tell you that his team’s practices have left something to be desired in the first couple weeks of the season.

But through two games, the Falcons’ performances on game night have been an entirely different story.

On Friday night, East Kentwood put together a dominant effort as the Falcons faced three time defending Division 3 state champion Orchard Lake St. Mary’s on the road, picking up a convincing 21-0 win.

“We don’t practice very well, but we play very well,” Kimbrough said. “I’m serious, we are the worst team as far as during the week practice-wise. But they’re gamers I guess, so I’ll keep that formula as long as they keep showing up on Friday nights.”

After a bad snap on a punt attempt forced St. Mary’s to turn the ball over on downs on its own five yard line, East Kentwood cashed in on the good field position to take a 6-0 lead late in the first quarter on a 1-yard run by Joshua Ledesma.

East Kentwood wouldn’t find the end zone again until the third quarter when junior Kionte Blakely scored on an 11-yard run with 4:25 left before the fourth quarter to push the Falcons’ lead to 14-0. Blakely would later score on a 68-yard run in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach.

Kimbrough praised his team’s all-around effort and said that aside from a few penalties early on, Friday’s game went according to plan for the Falcons.

“To be 2-0 and come in here against the defending state champs and play like we did today, I’m so proud of those kids,” he said. “They played their butts off from start to finish. We shot ourselves in the foot early on offense with penalties, but our kids, it never mattered to them, they just kept playing hard. I’m so proud of them.”

Defensively, East Kentwood was dominant from start to finish, not allowing a St. Mary’s drive deep into its own end until the closing minutes of the game, where the Falcons were able to block a St. Mary’s field goal attempt to preserve the shutout.

With Friday’s loss, St. Mary’s begins the season with an 0-2 record for the first time since 2009 and it also marks the first time the Eaglets have been shutout since losing to Warren De La Salle 7-0 in 2013.

East Kentwood standout defensive tackle Mazi Smith said that he was more than pleased with the way he and his teammates limited the St. Mary’s rushing attack for the vast majority of Friday’s game.

“In my opinion, yeah, because that run game is ridiculous,” he said. “Their running backs are great, both of them, and they tried to get a few big plays on us and they did get one or two, but at the end of the day, we stuffed them and put a goose egg on the board. That felt great.”

Kimbrough credited his team’s defensive effort to his defensive coordinator for the game plan he put together and his players for the way they executed that game plan.

“I give all of the credit to my defensive coordinator Andy Tevlin,” he said. “He’s a mastermind and our kids believed in what we did throughout the week and they executed the game plan to perfection. To shut down that team, with their power running game, it says a lot about our defensive coordinator and our players.”

In East Kentwood’s first two games to start the 2017 season, the Falcons have outscored their opponents, 66-6 to improve to 2-0 on the young season.

But as far as what may explain the difference between practices and games for the Falcons, junior offensive and defensive lineman Logan Brown said it might be pretty simple.

“We practice terribly,” he admitted. “I think we get along too well.”