Zeeland West rolls past Flint Powers, 40-14, to win third title in five years
Detroit – Throughout the majority of the season, Zeeland West found itself on the winning end of several blowout victories, but in the regional final, the Dux got a bit of a jolt.
The Dux survived an upset attempt from Hudsonville Unity Christian, winning 28-21 after beating the Saders by 46 points in the final week of the regular season.
But according to Zeeland West coach John Shillito, the game may have been just what the Dux needed.
The Dux cruised into the Division 4 final at Ford Field after beating Forest Hills Eastern 46-8, and didn’t take their foot off the pedal as Zeeland West rolled to a convincing 40-14 win over Flint Powers to capture its third title in five years.
“We had one game and it was against Unity Christian and I think it’s a real credit to them, they play in our league and we’ve played them more than we’ve played anybody else,” Shillito said. “They do such a great job that to play them a second time was really tough, it wasn’t a hiccup, but maybe scoreboard wise, we’re happy with how we played that game and give those guys all the credit in the world.
“It helped us a lot,” he said. “It wasn’t a wakeup call, but it was a push and it helped us a lot. We owe Craig Tibbe and his staff a lot.”
Coming out of halftime trailing 16-0, Flint Powers began to battle back as senior quarterback Noah Sargent scored on a 15-yard touchdown run to cut the deficit down to 16-6 after a failed two-point conversion try.
But the Zeeland West rushing attack proved to be too much in the second half as the Dux would score on their next drive to push the lead to 24-6 after a 4-yard touchdown run by Dakota Geurink with 3:14 left in the third quarter.
“It was huge,” Shillito said of the touchdown to give his team a three score lead. “I thought the stop on the extra point was huge to, because it kept us two scores ahead, but that was big for us.”
Zeeland West (14-0) would then all but put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter when Tyler Thompson scored his second rushing touchdown of the day, from 3-yards out to make it 32-6 with 10:36 left to play in the game.
Flint Powers (11-3) would score another touchdown with 7:28 left in the game on a pass from Sargent to Luke Brcic, but Zeeland West responded on the very next drive with a 45-yard touchdown run by Brinks to make it 40-14.
“I didn’t know if I was going to get in,” Brinks said of his touchdown run, but I saw Jayk (Slager) make a really good block and I cut off it and I was wide open from there.”
In the first half, Zeeland West jumped out to a 16-0 halftime lead as a Darius Perisee 8-yard run gave the Dux an 8-0 lead late in the first quarter, and Thompson would score the first of his two touchdowns with 4:03 left in the first half to give his team a two-score lead.
Late in the first half, Brinks intercepted a Flint Powers pass in the end zone to preserve the 16-point lead going into halftime.
“It was big,” Brinks said. “It kept us up two scores, so that helped us out a lot.”
Brinks, who was the quarterback on Zeeland West’s state championship team in 2013 as a sophomore, was forced out of the semifinal loss last year for the Dux due to injury, but helped guide the Dux to another state title on Friday.
“That one (2013) was really fun, but this, to me, is a lot better,” said Brinks, who finished 39-2 as a starting quarterback. “Just being a senior, it’s my last year.”
Brinks was one of three players who saw significant play time on Zeeland West’s 2013 state title team, Geurink and Zach VanValkenburg also served as three year starters for the Dux.
“They’re tremendous,” Shillito said of his senior class. “They go out 39-2 and there aren’t a lot of 39-2 groups and three of them started a lot (in 2013) and our quarterback (Brinks), you can’t say enough. He’s going to be hard to let go of.”