Coach Jermain Crowell talks about his team's 41-14 victory over Plymouth in the KLAA championship game. Eric Coughlin, The Detroit News
Plymouth — Belleville has only been in the Kensington Lakes Activities Association for two seasons, but on Friday it claimed its second league title with a 41-14 win over Plymouth.
The victory caps an unblemished regular season for Belleville (9-0) and extends its regular-season win streak to 33.
“The way the schedule played out, our toughest competition came right at the end (of the regular season) before the playoffs start,” Belleville coach Jermain Crowell said. “We were in the right mindset early on, and once we started playing good teams like (Dearborn) Fordson and (Livonia) Franklin, that got us into a playoff mindset, and that’s what we needed.”
Belleville’s team speed was simply too much for an outmatched Plymouth (8-1) squad, which was ranked No. 17 by The Detroit News heading into the game. Belleville had 11 plays of 20 yards or more.
“We’ve got a lot of explosiveness and explosive players,” Crowell said. “Speed in space, we’re one of those kinds of teams, so we expected to move it. We tried to work the ball underneath and take what they gave us. We outweighed them on the offensive line by a good deal.”
On a team of playmakers, it was Belleville's quarterback, Christian Dhue-Reid, who stood out the most. The junior went 12-for-20 passing for 180 yards with 58 yards rushing on four carries and two total touchdowns before being lifted for the fourth quarter.
“I could have played better,” Dhue-Reid said. “I could have hit more targets. The last two senior classes we’ve had have been good, and I feel like we should have won the state championship. This year we have a lot of leaders, and our offensive line is even better.”
Dhue-Reid has no Division I scholarship offers but says Cincinnati is taking a look at him.
“Once Christian gets going, the offense gets going,” Crowell said. “People don’t know, but Christian can actually run it. All this offseason we talked about him doing it.”
The major beneficiary of Dhue-Reid’s arm on Friday was senior Deion Burks. The wide receiver showed impressive athleticism, snagging four throws for 74 yards and a score.
Senior running back Mike Mathias came into the game averaging 8.9 yards per carry for Plymouth, but he was bottled up by Belleville’s beastly defensive line and could only scratch out 33 yards on 13 rushes. Mathias didn’t record a carry in the second half, and, according to Plymouth coach Brian Lewis, Mathias was “dinged-up.” Lewis said Mathis’ status for next week is unknown.
Senior defensive back Andre Seldon talks about Belleville's 41-14 win over Plymouth in the KLAA championship game and updates his Michigan recruitment Eric Coughlin, The Detroit News
Belleville started hot on the first possession of the game with a five-play, 61-yard touchdown drive. Dhue-Reid lofted a pass to the corner of the end zone and Burks got full extension to make a diving grab and put Belleville up, 7-0, after the extra point.
After a 28-yard catch by sophomore wide receiver Christian Rapley got Belleville down to the 1, senior running back TyTrayon Lewis pounded his way into the end zone to make it 14-0 with 2:13 left in the first quarter.
A personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalty aided a Belleville drive in the second quarter and led to another Lewis touchdown. This one was a 2-yard effort to make it 21-0, the score at half.
Plymouth was able to move the ball in the third quarter. On its opening drive of the half, a 15-yard reception by senior Alec Beshears set up a 1-yard touchdown run by quarterback Nick Downs to tighten things a bit at 21-7.
Belleville answered right back with a touchdown drive of its own, capped by a bruising 13-yard run by Dhue-Reid to widen the margin to 28-7.
An interception by Belleville senior Andre Seldon would lead to a 20-yard touchdown pass over the middle from Dhue-Reid to junior Jamari Buddin, putting things out of reach at 35-7.
“From watching film I knew what was coming,” Seldon said. “I jumped it (the route) and made the play, that simple.”
Seldon is committed to play football at Michigan and will be on the sidelines for Michigan’s game on Saturday night against Notre Dame. He plans to enroll early and talked to coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Don Brown this week.
Belleville poured it on the fourth quarter. A 1-yard scoring plunge by junior running back Kobe Langford made it 41-7.
Plymouth’s most exciting play of the game came when wide receiver Van Riley got some space on a stop-and-go route. Downs threw a pinpoint 30-yard pass to the senior who took it the next 20 yards for a touchdown to cap the scoring.
State playoffs for both teams start next week.
Eric Coughlin is a freelance writer.