SAGINAW TOWNSHIP – Montabella’s football team found out how a two-time state champion operates.
The Saginaw Nouvel Catholic Central Panthers routed the Mustangs 62-6 Friday night in a Division 7 district final game.
“That’s a very good football team. That’s one of the best football teams I’ve ever coached against,” Montabella coach David Clay said.
The opening kickoff foretold the night. Montabella (9-2) fumbled the kickoff and Bennett Lewis needed one play to score from 21 yards out to give the Panthers (10-0) a 7-0 lead just 22 seconds into the game.
The Mustangs managed a first down on their next drive, but punted the ball away. Lewis needed one play to go 69 yards for a 14-0 score.
Nouvel quarterback Joseph Buchalski hit Joshua Buchalski for two touchdown passes of 60 and 50 yards to make the score 28-0 Panthers before the first quarter ended.
“They (Nouvel) execute well, they are very disciplined, they have a lot of athletes and that’s where you need to be at this time of the year,” Clay said.
Lewis scored on two more runs and Joseph Buchalski threw a touchdown pass to Ty Jacobs before Montabella finally got on the board with a touchdown pass from Charles Helmer to Jemikal Papendick on a fade route from 19 yards away.
That made the score 42-6 Montabella going into the locker room at halftime.
“That gave us a little bit of momentum going into the break,” Clay said. “There were some kids that were a little bit timid. We had a lot of freshmen out. I think it eased a lot of that timidness.”
Clay didn’t try to make too many adjustments both during the first half and at halftime.
“We really didn’t adjust too much in the sense that we had the things we wanted to execute, we just weren’t executing,” Clay said. “So it was basically trying to correct guys and say, ‘Hey, the things we have are there, we just need to execute better.’ We weren’t able to get that done.”
Lewis didn’t play in the second half, ending his night with nine carries for 204 yards and four touchdowns. His backup, Ryan Sullivan, scored the final two touchdowns of the game with the running clock.
Buchalksi was just 5-of-5 passing – all in the first half – for 133 yards and three touchdowns. Joshua Buchalski caught two of those passes for 110 yards and a pair of scores.
Montabella’s potent offense was held to just 89 yards passing, as Helmer was 6-of-16 with an interception. Papendick caught three of those passes 34 yards and the touchdown. Logan Burns was the leading rusher with 24 yards on 12 carries.
“Offensively they (Nouvel) fired off the ball harder than we did, their line was more aggressive than ours was defensively and offensively,” Clay said.
Montabella’s record-setting season ends with nine wins, the most of any Mustang team. They also won their first playoff game in school history.
“There’s no doubt that this group of kids really set the bar higher at Montabella,” Clay said. “Montabella is just now building a winning football tradition, starting in 2006 with the first playoff appearance, we’ve been able to do it in 2008 and 2009, and got a step further this year. We’re just going to continue to build it and these young guys got a taste of what a possible state champion looks like.”
Nouvel, which has outscored its’ playoff opponents by a 125-20 count this season, will face Harbor Beach in the regional final next week.