South Lyon improves to 5-0 for first time since ’06 with win over Stevenson
SOUTH LYON — Back in 1991 when Mark Thomas became the head coach of South Lyon he wanted to instill a tough, hard-nosed football team. A team that ushered the phrase “Rock ‘em Sock ‘em South Lyon football.
There have been teams that fit that motto, but this year’s squad personified it on Friday with their 31-7 win over Livonia Stevenson.
The Lions (5-0) had a lot to play for namely not getting down after a big win last week against Northville, and becoming the first team to start the season 5-0 since 2006.
Thomas said his team came out focused.
“We came to play tonight. We talked about it because tonight was homecoming. There’s always distractions, and we wanted to make sure the kids were focused After last weeks big win (against Northville), you can go up or go down, but these kids came ready to play. It was a great win,” he said.
The Lions didn’t waste any time getting its offense going after its defense stopped Stevenson (3-2) early. Senior Joe Newman took the punt return 38 yards to the Spartan 41 yard line.
Then, junior running back Trevor Tank started and ended the drive as he carried the ball off the right tackle for a 41-yard touchdown for a quick 7-0 lead with 7:57 left in the first quarter.
On the ensuing drive, Newton recovered a fumble to give the Lions great field position. A few plays later, senior running back capped off the drive on a 4-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead with 1:53 left in the first quarter.
The defense then set up the offense with good field position as Jameson Donahue picked off a Stevenson pass at the 30 yard line and carried to into opponent territory.
“Our boys are quick with their pursuit and they get after you. Once we get to the ball, we wrap up. It’s good old fashion football, and we were at the right place at the right times,” Thomas said.
Senior quarterback Anton Skupin carried a run fake on first down and had a 25-yard touchdown run blown dead at the 16 yard line. A few plays later, though, Skupin found Newman for another first half score.
“I wanted the corner to think fade, and cut to the slant once I saw him turn his head. Anton threw a great ball, and we scored,” Newman said of the 21-0 touchdown catch with 10:52 left in the half.
Stevenson stopped three Lion drives with key interceptions, one of which was in the end zone, by senior Jack Ferguson and a blocked kick that prevented the Lions from scoring again before the half.
South Lyon wouldn’t be denied going forward, however. The Lions went back to work on a 7:50 long drive to open the third quarter on their opening drive of the second half all in thanks to short runs created by the offensive line’s blocking.
“You know a drive like that starts with the offensive line. It’s all because of them. They create the holes, and we’re not real big upfront. They get after it and they can get nasty,” Thomas said.
On fourth-and-one from the 20 Skupin found Erich Stephenson for a 28-0 lead with 4:10 to play in the third.
Three more points were added off the foot of Vince Candela after the Spartans had a drive stall inside the red zone. Candela capped off South Lyon’s first drive of the fourth quarter with a 32-yard field goal with 7:06 to play.
Stevenson would end the shut out on the ensuing drive when sophomore quarter back Chris Tanderys hit senior Nathan Martoia on a 49 yard bubble screen that put the Spartans in the red zone for the second time all game.
Martoia would score on third-and-goal when Tanderys found him again with a swing pass for a 31-7 score with 2:52 left in the game.
South Lyon knows that this team needs to stay hungry going forward. The Lions have another test when they travel to Novi next week, but Newman said he and his teammates will be ready.
“We’ve got to stay hungry. That’s the most important thing. We need to stay focused, and keep playing rock ‘em sock ‘em football from Pontiac Trail and Eleven Mile.”