Bucks roll to Lakeland championship
Published 4:30 am Saturday, October 16, 2010
By DON EDEN
Niles Daily Star
BUCHANAN — Buchanan’s big bombs bucked Brandywine Friday night as the Bucks captured an unbeaten Lakeland Conference championship with a 56-6 triumph over the visiting Bobcats.
Senior receiver Ryan Catalano scored on three tosses by classmate Bryan Kuntz that totaled 167 yards in the first half with 57, 89 and 22 being the yardage distances.
“I couldn’t ask for a better night and a better quarterback to throw me the ball,” commented Catalano. “This is a dream come true since I was only a kicker before my senior year and having just a great night with my brothers as we all worked so hard through the summer to win the conference.”
Catalano also got his claw on the football when Bobcat senior Jacob Frazier was attempting to score on a 62-yard run, but the Buck shot the ball loose at the one yard line and the football went through the end zone.
“That was a key play with (Jacob) Frazier’s fumble through the end zone since he is looking good at running with the ball and we still have an outside shot at the playoffs,” noted Brandywine coach Mike Nate. “We played tough teams the last three weeks and all are going to the playoffs.”
Buchanan (8-0, 5-0) also reached success on the ground with senior Cordell Johnson showing speed with a 72-yard jaunt through the middle of Brandywine (4-4, 1-4) defenders late in the first quarter. Kuntz knew completions came comfortably with a 12-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Jalen Brown when a Bobcat knocked the ball in the air for the 6-7 receiver to corral with a minute left in the first half for a 35-0 advantage at the intermission.
“We had a very challenging schedule and took one game at a time,” exclaimed Buchanan coach Joe Austin. “We are not co-champions this year and couldn’t ask for anything more.”
First half total yards were 339 in favor of the Bucks with Johnson achieving 107 on the ground and Frazier amassed 134 of the 179 Bobcats yards with all coming on the ground. Kuntz had 205 yards passing with 17 coming on a grab by junior Nick Troxel at his shoelaces.
The lone highlight for the visitors came on the first possession of the second half when senior quarterback Stone Hadley led Frazier perfectly down the sideline, who made a one-handed grab and then eluded tacklers for a 70-yard six pointer. That would be the only points though as the extra point was blocked.
Johnson ran untouched two minutes later on a 40 yard sweep to thwart any momentum the visitors had achieved with Catalano finding the uprights wide enough on all eight extra points. He finds kicking just as rewarding as catching with soccer also being an accomplishment at the high school level.
“My body has reached some high points by playing soccer on Tuesdays and Thursdays and then football on Friday, but I enjoy playing both sports and couldn’t have a better time,” claimed Catalano, who has had some interest by Western, Michigan State, Albion and Hope College for his athletic talents next year. “Soccer was always my goal in college up to now, but also getting some interest for football too.”
The Bucks hope to host a couple playoff games and that could mean senior fullback/linebacker Brandon Jackson could get some playing time after scoring nine touchdowns in the first four games with a broken wrist.
“We need to keep on playing to get him back, because we miss him everywhere and is also a great leader,” noted Austin.
Johnson finished with 164 yards rushing as the Bucks totaled 486 yards altogether, but were whistled six times for 42 yards of penalties that need to be corrected.
“Buchanan gets all the credit for being conference champs and (Bryan) Kuntz is an excellent quarterback with great protection,” stated Nate. “Their offensive line works well as a unit and is very good.”
The Bucks will travel to Muskegon Heights in attempt to complete an unbeaten regular season next Friday.
“Taking games one step at a time, but we feel we have the potential to make the big stage,” concluded Catalano.