Zeeland West runs past Byron Center, 42-13, inches closer to O-K Green title
By Kelly Hill
Zeeland – Every time he touches the football, Zeeland West senior running back Darius Perisee expects to gain at least five yards. The Dux, after all, practice that every day.
Perisee and his fellow Dux did better than that on Friday as they remained undefeated with a 42-13 victory over visiting Byron Center in an O-K Green Division game.
Perisee averaged 7.8 yards per carry, racking up 156 yards on 20 carries. West’s running game averaged 6.4 yards, grinding out 420 yards on 66 carries. West (7-0) passed the ball only once, but on that play senior quarterback Casey Brinks hit junior tight end Jayk Slager for a 48-yard touchdown.
“Good blocking is the main key,” Perisee said. “Our offensive line is most of our offense. We don’t pass a lot, so if those guys up front can get on a body, we are going to get at least five yards every time. That’s what we practice, because five yards (per rush) will always win a game.”
West jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead on a 59-yard touchdown romp the first time Perisee touched the football, and a 1-yard run by senior running back Tyler Thompson.
“That felt really good,” Perisee said of his run, which started up the middle and ended up along the left sideline.
The Dux, who have Hudsonville Unity Christian and Holland Christian remaining on its regular-season schedule, led 26-0 at halftime after second-quarter scoring runs of six and yards by Perisee and senior Nic Keyser, respectively. Junior Josh Saltzgaber got Byron Center on the scoreboard with a 5-yard run midway through the third quarter but West responded with Brinks’ touchdown pass. The Bulldogs’ other touchdown came on the first play of the fourth quarter when junior quarterback Zac Saltzgaber found senior Isaac Ambrose open in the back, left corner of the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown pass. West’s final tally came with 5:49 left to play as Thompson pounded it in from five yards out.
“Defensively in the first half we were really, really good,” West coach John Shillito said. “They play really hard and made us work. This was a very physical football game and defensively for us it starts up front with guys who are athletic and big and they have big motors. (Senior defensive end) Zach VanValkenburg goes and goes; he is like the engine of the whole thing.”
Shillito credits senior center Brad Dykstra and senior tackle Colton Overway with leading the offensive line. “(The running game) is a constant for us – forever,” Shillito said. “A lot of that is about senior leadership. Dykstra and Overway have been great players for us and I am real proud of them.”
Byron Center (5-2) rushed for 27 yards and passed for 213.
“You can’t simulate in practice what they do,” Byron Center coach Marc Cisco said. “When you walk out here you see the size difference; you can’t simulate that.”