In Play with Tom Markowski

Fordson turns season around with last-minute drive against Sterling Heights Stevenson, faces Cass Tech next

Football   | Tom Markowski

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Dearborn – Novi’s 31-28 victory over previously unbeaten West Bloomfield shocked many throughout the state.

For one it showed, along with Clarkston’s 28-14 loss to Romeo, that the Oakland Activities Association is not as strong as it has been in recent years. And, two, it showed that just because a team loses four games during the regular season as Novi did doesn’t mean a 5-4 team can’t be a competitive playoff team.

Of the 40 teams that made the playoffs with four losses, eight won over the weekend.

Dearborn Fordson was another.

If consistency is a criteria for being a good football team, the Tractors were not good this season. Home losses to Belleville and Redford Thurston plus a 28-14 loss at Monroe to end the regular season left Fordson fans empty and coach Walker Zaban searching for quick answers entering the Division 1 playoffs.

There weren’t any emotional speeches forthcoming but Zaban had his team prepared and they upset Sterling Heights Stevenson (7-3), 21-17, at Stevenson on Friday.

“We did play well,” Zaban said. “We didn’t play perfect. It’s been a rollercoaster year. After the first part of the year (the players) responded well.

“We didn’t play well against Monroe. We fumbled on their one, we missed a field goal and we just couldn’t play defense. We couldn’t stop the (run). But our kids are resilient. We haven’t had any issues, at practice or otherwise.”

This is not a vintage, good Fordson team. Last season the Tractors were one of the best teams around. A narrow loss to Detroit Cass Tech in a district final prevented Fordson from what could have been a long playoff run.

The Tractors returned just three starters and Zaban knew this season would have its rough stretches.

Fordson took a 7-0 lead on Stevenson after lineman Ali Jommaa stripped the ball from a Stevenson ball carrier.

Stevenson answered with a 70-yard drive for a touchdown and Fordson led 7-6.

“That set the tone,” Zaban said of Jommaa’s play. “Our defense started to play better after their first score. Our offense did a good job of moving the ball but we had some penalties that costs us.”

Fordson stopped Stevenson on consecutive series in the fourth quarter and with approximately three minutes remaining Fordson had possession on its 20 trailing 17-14.

On a fourth-and-10 quarterback Hanza El-Zayat (SP) completed a pass to slot back Aziz Hanek for a first down with 1:30 left. A couple of plays later El-Zayat threw a 30-yard screen pass to receiver Aban Alsulami that gave Fordson a first down at the Stevenson 1-yard line. Kassem Beydoun scored his third touchdown of the game and Fordson led 21-17 with 39 seconds left.

Two sacks by defensive end Adman Silmi and Hassan Jaafar’s interception clinched the game.  

Fordson plays at Cass Tech (8-2) in a district final.