In Play with Tom Markowski

West Catholic wins third consecutive Division 5 title, defeats River Rouge 40-34 behind David Fox's three TDs

Football   | Tom Markowski

State Champs! Sports Network

 

 

Detroit – David Fox is a hands-on type of player. The junior from Grand Rapids West Catholic is an efficient ball carrier. He handles the duties as the punter and from his defensive backfield spot Fox gets his hands on ball carriers and receivers alike.

He also scores touchdowns.

Fox scored three touchdowns as West Catholic held on to defeat River Rouge 40-34 on Saturday at Ford Field to become the first Division 5 team to win three consecutive titles.

West Catholic (12-2) lost in the 2012 final and won the title in 2010.

Jackson Lumen Christi (twice) and Menominee also won consecutive titles in this division.

River Rouge (12-2) was making its first final appearance.

West Catholic started 1-2 then turned its season around after losing to Grand Rapids Forest Hills Eastern (48-15). With just 16 seniors on the team, West Catholic coach Dan Rohn said he had to rely on his underclassmen to play like seniors.

“To be here, to have this kind of success, with a school (that) struggles with enrollment at times,” he said. “It’s big.”

Fox ran 64 yards for the game’s first score as West Catholic led 7-0 with 44 seconds left in the first quarter.

His touchdown runs of 38 and 12 yards gave the Falcons a 21-6 lead with 11:44 left in the third.

Fox shared time at quarterback with sophomore Gaetona Vallone and both were effective, and they needed to be. Fox had 152 yards on 10 carries. Vallone rushed for 115 yards on 19. Vallone was 7-of-13 passing for 84 yards and one touchdown. Fox was 1-of-2 for 22 yards.

“We spread the field more,” Fox said. “They’d take their guys out of the box and we’d run some traps and counters.”

West Catholic rushed for 357 yards on 46 attempts. River Rouge did its thing via the passing game.

Antoine Burgess, a senior who led the Panthers all season, set a Division 5 record by throwing for 354 yards. On Friday Armani Posey of Detroit King set the all-division, all-class record by throwing for 383 yards. Burgess’ total is second.

What’s even more impressive, perhaps astounding, is that Burgess produced his numbers on just 13 completions and 19 attempts. Posey was 19-of-27.

Burgess also gained 70 yards rushing on 22 carries but he did throw two interceptions.

“Our coach stresses to stay over the top,” Fox said. “Sometimes we don’t.”

Twice River Rouge got within seven points, the first time on Burgess’ 63-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Vinson and the second on Burgess’ 1-yard touchdown run, but each time the Falcons answered with a score.

The Panthers appeared to be out of it with 2:53 left after Liam Putz kicked a 31-yard field goal to give West Catholic a 33-21 lead but River Rouge would score two touchdowns to cause the Falcons some jitters.

“For us, I think we arrived,” River Rouge coach Corey Parker said. “We have high (grade-point averages). My guys have made an honest decision in the classroom. We’ll make these (seniors) proud next year.”

Sam Neville’s 3-yard touchdown run with 1:27 left gave the Falcons a 40-28 lead making Burgess’ 2-yard touchdown run with four seconds left moot.

Fox had a terrific all-around game. He led his team with eight tackles, seven unassisted, and his completions came on a fake punt that produced a first down.