BY WENDI REARDON PRICE
Clarkston News Sports Writer
The Wolves are heading back to Ford Field for the fourth time in six years, ready to take on Chippewa Valley for the state championship, Saturday, 1 p.m.
“It never gets old, it never gets old,” smiled Kurt Richardson, long-time Clarkston Varsity Football head coach after they secured the MHSAA Division 1 Football State Championship by defeating Saline in the semifinals, 21-3, on Saturday at Okemos High School.
Many ask what makes Clarkston successful and the answer is simple, he added.
“We don’t turn the ball over,” Richardson said. “We hang on to the football. The backs do a great job – that’s our number one thing. We don’t turn the ball over.”
The Wolves opened with possession of the ball and didn’t turn the ball as they held onto it.
With 6:11 remaining in the first quarter, Clarkston scored their first touchdown off a 28-yard run by senior Jacob Honstetter. A PAT from senior Tristan Mattson put the boys at 7-0.
The Hornets were able to get within 24 yards of Clarkston’s endzone on a first down. They moved the ball five yards before stopped by senior Brendan Barker. Their attempts went quickly after a pass went incomplete and junior Dylan Erskine stopped them, putting them at their fourth down.
Saline put three points on the board with a 33-yard field goal by senior James Turner, their only score for the afternoon.
The Wolves furthered their lead with five minutes remaining in the first half with a 15-yard pass from senior quarterback Jake Jensen to senior Josh Luther, who was waiting in the center of the endzone.
Prior to playing Clarkston, Saline had only allowed two teams score more than two touchdowns on them which within the first month of the season. Richardson said what helped Clarkston was the players believed.
“Not that they weren’t believing before, but they had all sorts of confidence we could do what we wanted to do” he added.
Jensen was 8-for-14 in passing for 54 yards for one touchdown and two first downs. Luther caught five passes for 40 yards. Jensen also rushed the ball six times for 43 yards.
“He has grown so much,” Richardson said about Jensen. “Probably in the last five weeks is when he has really taken off. He is making big plays, hurting people and doing good things.”
Honstetter carried the ball 16 times for 85 yards and senior Jake Billette carried the ball 15 times for 36 yards. Mattson was 3-for-3 on PATs.
Senior Keagan King led defense with five tackles and three assists. Sophomore Rocco Spindler had four tackles and three assists. Senior Max Nicklin had four tackles and five assists. Erskine and Luther had three tackles and one assist each. Honstetter had three tackles and two assists. Barker had three tackles and four assists.
“We have a whole lot of different looks we throw at people,” Richardson said about defense. “We are moving around constantly. We have some pretty good football players, too, but we are trying to bring them from different spots all the time. Most of the time the kids do a great job with it.”
He added a great aspect of the program is it is a whole team effort.
“It is what we have built the whole program on – we don’t have stars,” he said. “We have a bunch of guys doing it together – that’s what we are all about.”
This Saturday’s game pits the 11-2 Wolves against Chippewa Valley, 13-0. Tickets are available at Ford Field for $10.