Heavily-favored Grand Rapids West Catholic was as good as advertised Saturday afternoon, controlling every phase of the game and rolling past Saginaw Swan Valley, 34-7. The Falcons collected their fifth consecutive Division 5 championship, tying the state’s longest consecutive streak.
How it happened
The West Catholic offense was unstoppable for much of the day. The Falcons (12-2) touchdowns on both of their first-quarter possessions, driving 80 and 76 yards, respectively. , Two Three interceptions by West Catholic, including one returned for a touchdown by Zaavon Scott, led to 17 more points.
The Falcons had too many weapons that kept the Swan Valley (12-2) defense guessing. Seven receivers caught at least one pass, with Jack Schichtel grabbing a pair of touchdown receptions and Zack Lee catching one.
The Falcons’ up-tempo offense struck first when quarterback Gaetano Vallone connected with Lee just 2:30 into the game. Lee followed blocks from two West Catholic wideouts and rambled 32 yards into the end zone to give the Falcons the early lead. West Catholic led 34-0 before Swan Valley's Brock Leinberger's 10-yard run at the end of the third quarter.
Vallone passed for 311 passing yards last season for the fifth-highest total in finals history. He didn’t need to air it out as much Saturday, but he still completed his first six attempts and finished 10-for-14 for 197 yards and three touchdowns. Vallone also led the Falcons with 60 yards rushing on 17 carries, scoring on a 5-yard QB draw to make it 31-0 early in the third quarter.
What it means
West Catholic became just the second Michigan school to win five consecutive state titles, joining East Grand Rapids from 2006-10 in Division 3. The Falcons can become the outright record-holder in 2018, but will have to overcome heavy attrition after starting seven seniors on each side of the ball this season.
“It’s always about the kids and the staff you put in front of them, and the opportunity to get better every week, and our kids have been able to do that,” West Catholic coach Joe Hyland said.
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