Birmingham — After all the hard work and preparation a team still needs to have the ball bounce their way now and again to come out on top.
The ball bounced Birmingham Seaholm’s way on Friday as Seaholm defeated Birmingham Groves, 28-20, to capture its second consecutive Oakland Activities Association Blue Division title before 4,300 at Seaholm.
Seaholm (8-0, 7-0) led 21-12 and faced a third-and-24 when quarterback Brandon Altman threw to receiver Jack Mentag 15 yards downfield. Mentag tipped the ball and receiver Kerry Mott caught it at the 15 and ran untouched to complete a 40-yard touchdown pass with 9:15 remaining in the game.
“Sometimes it’s just luck,” Altman said. “I saw their cornerback. He was cheating. I threw to Mentag and he was open at first. I was a little late with my delivery. The ball was tipped and Kerry was there. We’ve had a lot of breaks over the years. It happened at Groves last year. I’ll take it.”
Groves led Seaholm 15-14 last year when Seaholm returned a fumble for a touchdown and won 22-15.
On Friday, Altman played a complete game rushing for 72 yards on 19 carries and completing five of eight passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns.
Neither team committed a turnover.
Groves (7-1, 6-1) led 12-0 in this one midway through the first quarter. Cherrod Cohen caught a 70-yard touchdown reception from Zach VanFaussien and Ross Williams returned a punt 68 yards for a touchdown.
Seaholm didn’t have a first down until its third possession. On its fourth possession, though, it closed the gap to 12-7. Aaron Ware’s 48-yard punt return set up Dominic Sierpien’s 1-yard touchdown run.
Seaholm seemed to settle down after that score. Defensively, it held Groves to 94 yards and three first downs in the first half and led 14-12.
“Offensively, they got us big in that first quarter,” Seaholm coach Jim DeWald said. “We held Ross to 23 yards in the half. That was key. We can’t key on one person, though. I want our players to play fundamentally sound football. We really focus on scheme. Yes, we do know where Ross was and when he carried the ball.
“We got that three-and-out to start then scored. That was a turning point.”
Nick Vestevich’s 13-yard touchdown run gave Seaholm a 21-12 lead.
Seaholm contained Ross, limiting the senior running back to 14 yards on eight carries. Ross’ previous low rushing total was 107 yards against Berkley last week.
“Our offense didn’t move the ball well,” Groves coach Brendan Flaherty said. “Our offense sputtered. I feel awful for our seniors.”