D5 final: Grand Rapids West Catholic wins 5th straight
Detroit — Grand Rapids West Catholic continued to build its dynasty Saturday evening at Ford Field, dominating Saginaw Swan Valley 34-7 to win the Division 5 state championship for the fifth straight year.
West Catholic (12-2) became the first team to earn five straight state titles since East Grand Rapids won five straight Division 3 crowns from 2006-10. Farmington Hills Harrison is the lone other team to have accomplished the feat, from 1997-2001.
West Catholic scored early and often, using all three phases of the game to jump out to a 17-0 lead less than a minute into the second quarter.
“I’m very, very proud of the way our kids came out and seized the moment, the opportunity to win the championship,” said West Catholic coach Joe Hyland. “We were all aware of in the sense of the historic and momentous occasion that could potentially be, and I’m really proud of our staff and our kids for putting that to the side and focusing on what we do on a play-by-play basis. I’m very, very excited about the fact that all three phases of our game really locked in at the right time.”
First, quarterback Gaetano Vallone found Zach Lee for a 32-yard TD pass just 2 1/2 minutes into the game. Liam Putz followed with a 20-yard field goal late in the quarter and Zaavon Scott returned a 28-yard interception to open up a 17-0 lead with 11:11 left in the half.
Vallone led GRWC to a 24-0 halftime lead, throwing for 180 yards and two TDs, including a 28-yard scoring toss to Jack Schichtel, who made a circus catch.
For the game, Vallone completed 10-of-14 for 197 yards and two TDs. He also rushed for 60 yards and a TD.
And, nothing less than a spectacular performance should have been expected from Vallone who rushed for 115 yards and threw a TD in a thrilling 40-34 title game win over River Rouge two years ago, then completed 13-of-20 passes for 311 yards and four TDs in a 43-7 championship game rout of Menominee last year.
Scott finished with two interceptions and six tackles, including one for lost yardage. Mitchell Doyle finished with 10 sacks and an interception.
Brooks Leinberger ended West Catholic’s shutout bid with a 10-yard TD run on the final play of the third quarter.
Leinberger rushed for 67 yards for Swan Valley (12-2) which was making its first state title game appearance.