Bulldogs Rock River Rats on Homecoming Night

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Meagan O'Hara

Ella Ashe, Bleu Print Staff

Fans filled the football stadium on Friday night long before the 7pm kick-off in celebration of Chelsea High’s homecoming game. The parade before the game worked with the perfect weather to get fans and players fired up for a great homecoming night. The band’s sound was sharp, the homecoming nominees looked stunning, and the Bulldogs were fierce.

It was a tale of two seasons for the teams in this game; Ann Arbor Huron (0-8) came into the game after a loss to Skyline, while Chelsea (7-1) was coming off a hard-fought win over Ypsilanti, having clinched the SEC White Division title.

While the Huron River Rats limped into the game without a win, injuries posed a major concern for the Bulldogs. Four essential players were out for Chelsea, three with sprained ankles and one with a shoulder injury, according to Chelsea’s athletic trainer, Tom LaFleur. LaFleur said he tapes about 30 ankles and 30 shoulders per week, and Chelsea’s successful season certainly hasn’t come without wear and tear for several of its players.

Despite those injuries, Chelsea’s big night offensively and the defense’s first-half shutout led the Bulldogs to a dominating 44-14 victory on homecoming night.

Both teams hoped to survive disaster on the night of Friday the 13th, but Huron wasn’t so lucky. Chelsea started off the game with a fast touchdown, putting them ahead 7-0 early in the game, and the Blue & Gold would never look back. Huron pushed the ball up the field, but Chelsea’s Patrick Bertoni picked off a River Rats pass and sprinted up the sideline and into the end zone for a 14-0 Bulldogs lead. Chelsea’s senior quarter back, Thomas Steele, hit sophomore Kyle Knight twice for big plays on the next Bulldogs drive. It was Steele to Knight for 30 yards and a third Chelsea touchdown, putting the Dawgs up 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.

Early in the second quarter, Chelsea’s Michael Tarasow made a 24-yard field goal, tacking on 3 to make it 24-0 Chelsea. During the ensuing Huron possession, Chelsea’s Sam Long, Owen Nikischer, and Andy Xiao, along with a fierce Bulldogs defensive line, shut down the River Rats and got the ball back for Chelsea. The Bulldogs ended the 1st half with a 37-yard field goal from Tarasow, taking a 27-0 lead into the locker room.

In the third quarter, Chelsea picked up right where it left off, and after a tough 1-yard push into the end zone, the Bulldogs claimed a 34-0 advantage. Huron finally found some offense, punching the ball into the end zone on a 7-yard touchdown, making the score 34-7. Chelsea quickly responded on Knight’s 50-yard reception, ending the third with a score of 41-7 in favor of the Bulldogs.

In the fourth quarter, Huron slowly pushed the ball up the field, finding holes in Chelsea’s defensive line and scoring its second touchdown to break double digits at 41-14. Chelsea’s 32-yard field goal would end the night’s scoring fest for a final score of 44-14.

Up next, Chelsea faces Alpena (2-6) to end the regular season. Kickoff is at 7pm at the WSEC football stadium.