Category Archives: Watervliet Panthers

RECAP: Lumen Christi Downs Watervliet in Regional Final


Lumen Christi quarterback Troy Kutcha warms up prior to Saturday’s game.

Defending Division 6 football state champion Jackson Lumen Christi will return to the semifinal thanks to a 44-22 road win over the Watervliet Panthers in Saturday’s Regional final.   The Titans were dominant from the start, scoring the game’s first 36 points and earning the running clock by the third quarter.  They held the Panthers, who averaged more than 50 points per game in the season, to only six against their starting defense.

Watervliet got two first downs on their initial drive, but were stopped for a turnover on downs 33 yards from the end zone.  Lumen Christi had a three-and-out for their opening drive, but would score on the ensuing six drives.   The second Panther drive ended after one play as safety Kamal Harris recovered a fumble from quarterback Zack Pickens at the Panther 29.  Three plays later, running back Sebastian Toland scored on a five-yard rush, giving the Titans a 6-0 lead after a missed extra point with 6:32 in the first quarter.

The Titans would get the ball twice more before Watervliet, recovering two onside kicks that bounced off of waiting Panthers.  Lumen Christi quarterback Troy Kutcha added 10 and one yard touchdown runs, along with a Nick Thomas two-point run and two-point pass to Dayton Keller, to give Lumen Christi a 22-0 lead after one quarter.

Watervliet finally got the ball back, but moved backward, leading to a rare Panther punt.  The Titans put together a 55-yard scoring drive and scored on a 13-yard Thomas run, putting the score at 28-0 following a failed two-point try with 8:01 in the second.

Watervliet’s fourth drive ended in a turnover on downs and the Titans responded with a nine-play, 53-yard scoring drive capped off with a 22-yard pass from Kutcha to Kyle Minder.  The two-point run by Thomas gave Lumen Christi a 36-0 lead with 1:20 before halftime.

Facing the prospect of the running clock to start the third quarter, Watervliet finally found the end zone on the final play of the second with a nine-yard pass from Pickens to Bryant Kieft.  The two-point try failed, putting the score at 36-6 into halftime.  Unfortunately for Watervliet, Lumen Christi started with the ball in the third quarter and passed the running clock threshold with a 51-yard scoring drive.   The QB sneak by Kutcha and two-point run by Thomas put the score to 44-6.

The following two Panther drives ended with a turnover on downs, with a lot of time ticking in between.    The Titans brought in reserves in the fourth quarter and saw a punt get blocked, putting Watervliet seven yards from the end zone.

The Panthers scored on their first pass, a seven-yard fade toss to Kieft, finally stopping the running clock.  They got the two on the exact same play to put the score at 44-14, but the running clock damage was already done with the touchdown coming with 4:55 left in the game.    Watervliet forced another punt and scored once more against the backups with a one-yard Dylan Lynch run and two-point pass for Garrett Matthews.

Unofficially, Kutcha was 7-8 passing for 114 yards and one touchdown, along with three rushing scores on 20 yards.  Minder was the leading Titan rusher with 74 on 18 carries, followed by 57 on 9 from Toland.   For Watervliet, Pickens was 15-25 for 167 yards and two touchdowns.  He also rushed for 75 yards, although more than half of that came in the fourth quarter.  Kieft led the Panther receivers with six catches, 81 yards, and two scores.

Watervliet finishes at 11-1 on the season, only their second season ever getting to 11 wins.  Lumen Christi improves to 10-1 and will face Warren Michigan Collegiate (12-0) next Saturday at 1 p.m. from Chelsea High School.

Listen back to the Regional final below:

PREVIEW: Watervliet Battles Lumen Christi For Trip to Final Four

11-11 Football
Listen live online Saturday at 1 p.m. ET on the Slocum Sports Network to a MHSAA Division 6 Regional football final between the Watervliet Panthers and Lumen Christi Titans.  These schools met for the first time in last year’s Pre-District round, a game Lumen Christi won 55-28 en route to their ninth state championship.

Watervliet enters the game at 11-0, one of four unbeaten teams in the Division 6 elite eight.  It’s only the second time reaching 11 wins in program history, joining the 1979 Class C state runner-up campaign, their only ever trip beyond the Regional round.  This is their third Regional appearance in their current seven season playoff streak.   Watervliet is averaging 52 points per game while allowing 23.2 per game.

The Panthers have scored 36 or more in each of their games and have reached 50+ in eight of their games.  After shutting out Schoolcraft (36-0) to start the playoffs, Watervliet had their tightest game of the season in their 58-50 victory over Delton Kellogg.    Apart from their two games against Delton Kellogg, Watervliet has won every game by three or more possessions.

Lumen Christi enters at 9-1 and are the defending Division 6 state champion.  Last year’s title was their first trip to the final four since 2009’s championship.   The program has been one of the most decorated in the state, winning nine championships and making the final twice more.   The Titans have an all-time winning percentage just under 80 percent.   This season, they’re scoring 37.1 points per game and allowing 11.9 per contest.

Lumen Christi started the season with tough tests, edging Division 5 champion Grand Rapids West Catholic 27-24 in their opener.   The lone Titan loss came to unbeaten Interstate 8 champion Harper Creek 22-21 in week three.   Since that game, they’ve won seven consecutive contests by three possessions or more and have allowed no more than 15 points.  Lumen Christi downed Quincy 48-15 and Michigan Center 51-14 in their playoff games.

Listen live to Saturday’s Regional final online on the Slocum Sports Network with kickoff scheduled for 1 p.m. ET from Watervliet.  The winner faces either Warren Michigan Collegiate (11-0) or Blissfield (7-4) in the semifinal next weekend.

RECAP: Watervliet Outraces Delton Kellogg 58-50 for District Title

Digital CameraThe Watervliet Panthers claimed their third district football title in nine years Friday, winning a wild one at home over Delton Kellogg, 58-50.   The game saw similarities to their 58-44 week six battle, which was 30-30 at halftime compared to this game’s 30-29 halftime score.

After forcing Delton Kellogg to punt on their opening drive, Watervliet quarterback Zack Pickens found a 52-yard touchdown pass to Bryant Kieft and a two-point pass to Garrett Matthews for an 8-0 lead.  DK got a big pass of their own only a few plays later as Josh Lyons found a wide open Max Swift for a 55-yard score.   The extra-point kick made it 8-7 midway through the first quarter.

Watervliet’s second drive led to a second touchdown, a 59-yard passing score from Pickens to Trent Boone.  A failed two-point try put the score at 14-7, where it stayed until early in the second.   Delton Kellogg put together an 11-play, 69-yard drive and scored on a fourth and goal with a one-yard Swift rush, tying the game at 14-14.

Watervliet scored again quickly, using a screen pass to Kieft for a 73-yard score.  A two-point pass to Matthews pushed it to 22-14 with 8:33 in the second.   DK responded with a 41-yard Swift rushing touchdown and used a trick pass to the long snapper Ethan Reed for the two and a 22-22 tied game.

The next Watervliet drive had a rarity, a Watervliet turnover.   Pickens fumbled with Lyons recovering the ball at the DK 20.  Four plays later, a 65-yard Swift run gave Delton Kellogg their first lead with 1:43 before halftime, 29-22.   The big-play Watervliet offense struck back 49 seconds later on a 26-yard pass from Pickens to Matthews.  They hooked up again for the two for a 30-29 Watervliet lead.

A great kick return by Lyons put DK 35 yards from the end zone with 45 seconds to work with.   They made it as close as the eight and had one last shot at the end zone before halftime, but Lyons was intercepted at the goal line by Pickens, keeping the halftime score 30-29.

Watervliet started with the ball in the third but quickly lost it on a fumbled exchange, recovered by Tyden Ferris.  Watervliet then evened the takeaway battle with the biggest one of the night, as linebacker Anthony Wade ripped the ball out of the hands of Alex Diggs and took it 80 yards to the end zone.

“Just to rip the ball out of the dude’s hands, it took a lot out of me, but I had to do it for the team, I had to fight it out,” said Wade after the game.    The score, plus the two-point conversion, put Watervliet ahead 38-29.

Delton Kellogg responded with an 11-play, 76-yard scoring drive capped off with a one-yard Swift rush.  Their two-point try failed, putting the score at 38-35 with 2:05 remaining in the third.   Before the end of the frame, Watervliet was back up by two scores with an eight-yard pass from Pickens to Matthews.   The two-point toss to Kieft gave Watervliet a 46-35 lead entering the fourth quarter.

DK was stopped on a turnover on downs and Watervliet took a three-possession lead with an 18-yard pass from Pickens to Jakob Aldrich.  A failed two-point try put the score at 52-35 with 7:15 remaining.   Delton Kellogg wouldn’t go down without a fight, scoring less than two minutes later on a 35-yard Lyons rush.   He added another two on the ground and got the score to 52-43.

Watervliet kept the game out of reach with an 11-yard Pickens rushing touchdown with 2:15 remaining for a 58-43 score after a failed two-point try.   Delton Kellogg had one last gasp, scoring with 11 seconds remaining on a 31-yard pass by Lyons to Anton Blomgren.   DK couldn’t get the ball back on the kickoff, putting the final tally at 58-50.

Unofficially, Pickens was 16-17 passing for 390 yards and six touchdowns, his first career game with six passing TDs.   He added 109 rushing on 22 attempts and a touchdown.   Kieft had nine grabs for 232 yards and two scores.

“We have a wealth of talent at the skill positions right now,” said Watervliet coach Jeremy Andrews.  “Anybody who has seen Zack throw the football knows that he can throw.   He throws an absolutely beautiful ball, highly catchable.   And our receivers made some big plays tonight.”

For Delton Kellogg, Swift finished with 187 rush yards on 17 attempts with three rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown, plus easily double-digit tackles defensively.  Lyons was 3-5 passing for 93 yards, one touchdown, and one interception.  He rushed for 89 yards.

Delton Kellogg finishes the season at 6-5.  Watervliet improves to 11-0 and will play in the Regional final for the third time in nine years.   They meet defending Division 6 state champion Jackson Lumen Christi, who ended their 2016 campaign in the Pre-District round 55-28.

“We’ve got to play the 11 guys on the field, not the name on the jersey and the mystique.  We don’t have to beat their history and their pedigree,” said Andrews.   “I said at the beginning of season, I think that we’re good as anybody and if we play well, we can win every game.   I believe that, absolutely 100 percent going into next week.”

Watervliet and Lumen Christi’s Regional final will be played at Watervliet with the date and time to be announced.   Watervliet has only made it past the Regional final once before, making it to the 1979 state championship.   You can listen to the Regional final next week live online on the Slocum Sports Network.

Listen back to the District final below:

PREVIEW: Watervliet Duels Delton Kellogg in District Final

11-3 Football
Listen live online Friday night on the Slocum Sports Network to a MHSAA Division 6 District football final between Watervliet and Delton Kellogg.  Both teams are the Panthers, both wear maroon, both are in the SAC Lakeshore division, and both have been hot since their week six meeting.

Back on September 29, Watervliet won at Delton Kellogg 58-44 to lock Watervliet into the playoffs at 6-0 and putting DK in danger at 2-4.   The 14-point margin remains the closest anyone has come this season to beating Watervliet, who is now 10-0.   Since allowing 44 in that game, their worst defensive effort of the year, Watervliet has allowed 52 combined points over their last four games, including their first shutout last week in their playoff opener against Schoolcraft.   On the year, Watervliet is averaging 51.4 points per game while allowing 20.5.

Following the Watervliet loss, Delton Kellogg’s only hope at the postseason required a 3-0 finish against Kalamazoo United, Coloma, and Constantine.   DK did just that, winning 35-32, 23-20, and 40-7, giving them enough playoff points to enter the field at 5-4.   Delton Kellogg then had their most dominant performance yet in last week’s Pre-District win at Parchment, destroying those Panthers 57-0 to move to 6-4 on the year.  DK is averaging 34.1 points per game while allowing 26.9.

Watervliet and Delton Kellogg were tied 30-30 at halftime in their week six encounter, but Watervliet was able to pull away in the second half.  Watervliet quarterback Zack Pickens threw for 398 yards and five touchdowns, while also rushing for three scores and 103 yards.

Watervliet is in the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years, although only twice in that stretch have they won their District final and both times, they were then stopped in the Regional.  Delton Kellogg is in the postseason for the second time in the last three seasons, although they had a 13-year playoff drought prior to 2015.  DK has made it to the Regional round only once ever, back in 1987 and their Parchment win last week was their first playoff victory since 2000 and only third ever playoff victory.

Prior to Watervliet joining the SAC in 2015, these schools had never played in football.   Watervliet has won all three previous meetings.   If Watervliet is victorious, they would host either defending state champion Lumen Christi (8-1) or Michigan Center (9-1) in the Regional final.  If Delton Kellogg wins, they would be on the road.

Listen live to Friday’s District final live online on the Slocum Sports Network with kickoff set for 7 p.m. from Watervliet High School.

RECAP: Watervliet Opens Postseason with Shutout of Schoolcraft

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Watervliet and Schoolcraft’s captains ready for the coin toss.

The Watervliet Panthers moved to 10-0 Friday night with a 36-0 Pre-District playoff win over Schoolcraft, ending the Eagles’ season at 5-5.   The shutout is the first of the year for the Panther defense, which forced two turnovers, four punts, and held Schoolcraft to under 200 total offensive yards.

After forcing a punt on the opening Eagle drive, Watervliet quarterback Zack Pickens needed one play to score, taking off on a 65-yard touchdown rush.   On Watervliet’s third drive, Pickens had a 40-yard rushing score.   The Eagles ate up about eight minutes on a lengthy drive which got to the red zone, but ended in an interception to Jakob Aldrich.   Schoolcraft was able to force a turnover on downs twice in the first half and kept the Panthers from scoring on an untimed down to end the second quarter, keeping the game at 14-0 into halftime.

Pickens connected with Bryant Kieft on a 20-yard passing touchdown 58 seconds into the third quarter and extended the lead to 22-0 with a shovel pass to Garrett Matthews on the two-point conversion.  Schoolcraft punted, but forced a quick turnover on downs and got the ball back near midfield.   However, the Eagles fumbled the ball to defensive lineman Blake Kinzler.  Not long after, Pickens hit Trent Boone for a 29-yard touchdown pass.   The Panthers added one more score off a six-yard James Bell run.

Unofficially, Pickens was 7-16 passing for 167 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 179 yards with two touchdowns on 24 attempts.  His scores put him at 31 passing touchdowns and 27 rushing scores on the season.  Garrett Matthews had four catches for 119 yards.  Schoolcraft QB Brady Flynn was 3-8 for 30 yards with one pick.  Kobe Clark led the rushing at 85 yards on 21 carries.  Jack Hunt was held to 32 on 14 attempts.

Watervliet advances to the district final next weekend against Delton Kellogg, who blitzed Parchment 57-0.   Watervliet defeated DK (now 6-4) on the road 58-44 in week six, although of note, that 14-point deficit is the closest anyone has been this season to Watervliet.   You can listen to the Watervliet/Delton Kellogg game on the Slocum Sports Network.

Listen back to Friday’s Pre-District below:

PREVIEW: Watervliet Hosts Schoolcraft in Playoff Opener

10-13 football
Listen live online Friday night on the Slocum Sports Network as the Watervliet Panthers host the Schoolcraft Eagles in the first round of the MHSAA Division 6 high school football postseason.   These teams met two weeks ago in Southwestern Athletic Conference (SAC) Lakeshore division play with Watervliet getting a 36-14 road win.

At 9-0, Watervliet is one of six unbeaten teams in the 32-team Division 6 field and the only one within their region.  The Panthers are averaging 53.1 points per game, third-best in all of Michigan, while allowing 22.7 per game.  Their final two regular season games against Schoolcraft and Coloma, both 36-14 finals, were their lowest scoring games of the season while also their second-fewest points allowed.

Schoolcraft enters at 5-4, averaging 27.4 points per game and allowing 18.7 per game.  After a 5-1 start, injuries and a tough schedule put the Eagles on a three-game losing streak, falling to Watervliet, Coloma (32-7), and to Kalamazoo United (31-28) in last week’s regular season finale.

In the first meeting, Watervliet jumped out to an early 14-0 advantage.   Schoolcraft scored the next two touchdowns to tie the game, but a 62-yard touchdown pass from Zack Pickens to Trent Boone seconds before halftime put the Panthers ahead.  Watervliet clamped down defensively in the second half, holding Schoolcraft to a turnover on downs thrice and tallying one interception.

The Eagle defense did shut down Pickens on the ground, holding him to easily his worst rushing effort at 19 yards on 24 attempts.   However, Watervliet’s big-play pass attack was potent, scoring touchdowns of 72, 62, 41 and 19 yards and getting 349 pass yards in total.     The Panthers contained Schoolcraft to smaller gains, allowing only one gain of more than 20 yards.

Watervliet is in the playoffs for the seventh consecutive year and for the second time in that stretch, enters unbeaten.  Coincidentally, the other time they did in 2013, Schoolcraft eliminated them in the District final.   Twice in that stretch, the Panthers made it as far the Regional final.   The only time they’ve gotten deeper was in their runner-up 1979 season.   Last season, they fell in the Pre-District game to eventual state champion Jackson Lumen Christi 55-28, who could be waiting in this year’s regional final.

Schoolcraft is in the postseason for the ninth consecutive season, although their 5-4 record is the weakest within that stretch.  Like Watervliet, the Eagles saw their season ended in 2016 by Lumen Christi, losing in the District final 37-34.   This is the fourth postseason meeting between Schoolcraft and Watervliet, with Eagle wins in 2013 and 1999 and a Panther win in 2014.    They’ve met six times total with four Schoolcraft wins and two Watervliet wins.

Listen live to Friday’s game online on the Slocum Sports Network with kickoff at 7 p.m. from Watervliet High School.   The winner moves to the District final against the winner of the Panther Bowl between Parchment and Delton Kellogg.

RECAP: Watervliet Secures SAC Lakeshore with 36-14 Win at Schoolcraft

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Bryant Kieft (#5) and Zack Pickens (#1) warmup prior to Friday’s game.

The Watervliet Panthers used big pass plays and strong defense to win at Schoolcraft Friday, improving to 8-0 with a 36-14 victory over the Eagles.  The win also puts them at 4-0 in the SAC Lakeshore division and clinches the top spot, thanks to Coloma falling to Delton Kellogg.

Watervliet (ranked fourth in the Associated Press Division 6 poll) began with the ball and faced a third and long on their first set of downs following a sack.  Quarterback Zack Pickens connected with Trent Boone on a 70-yard pass to get them into the red zone.    The Eagle defense forced a fourth and seven from the 19-yard line, but Pickens found Garrett Matthews in the end zone, followed by a two-point pass to Bryant Kieft, for a 8-0 Watervliet lead.

Schoolcraft had a three and out, but was able to force a turnover on downs on the second Panther drive.   The Eagle offense stalled again and Watervliet scored on their third drive with 10:56 in the second quarter with a 41-yard TD pass from Pickens to Kieft.  The two-point try ended in a sack for a 14-0 score.

Schoolcraft’s third drive finally saw progress, chipping away on 13 plays for 58 yards.   Fullback Jack Hunt’s 27-yard rushing score put the Eagles back within seven, 14-7.   Schoolcraft then forced a very rare Watervliet punt because of multiple tackles for a loss, starting their next drive 31 yards from the end zone.   A 15-yard Kobe Clark rushing score evened the game at 14-14 with 1:20 remaining.

However, Watervliet reclaimed the lead on a wild 62-yard passing touchdown to Boone with only three seconds remaining.  A two-point run from Kieft gave the Panthers a 22-14 lead into intermission.

Schoolcraft started with the ball in the third, but were denied for a turnover on downs near midfield.   Watervliet responded with their longest drive in terms of plays (nine) and punched into the end zone with a 5-yard Kieft rush.  He would catch the two-point toss as well to push the Panthers to a 30-14 score.

The Eagles made it past midfield, but squandered an opportunity with a dropped pass that likely would’ve put them into the end zone.  Their drive ended in another turnover on downs.   Watervliet needed one play to add to their lead, as Kieft turned a screen pass into a 72-yard score late in the third.  The two-point pass failed, putting the score at its final mark of 36-14.

The Eagles punted to start the fourth quarter and were able to force a quick turnover on downs only 25 yards from the end zone with 8:32 remaining.   However, the Panthers sealed the win with the game’s lone takeaway, a Pickens interception in the end zone, and drained the clock from there.

Unofficially, Pickens was 11-17 for 348 yards and four touchdowns.   The Eagle defense did get multiple sacks and stifled Pickens on the ground, holding him to 14 rushing yards on 24 attempts.   Kieft had four catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns, along with 49 yards and a score on the ground.   Boone had four catches for 153 yards and a touchdown.   The 36-point effort was actually Watervliet’s lowest of the year, as they had scored 50 or more in the first seven weeks.

For Schoolcraft, Jack Hunt had a workhorse effort at 96 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown.  The rest of the run game had 55 yards with only 32 pass yards.  Starting quarterback Dylan Straley was 0-3 and Brady Flynn, who replaced Straley due to injury, was 3-9 for 32 yards and one interception.

Watervliet moves to 8-0 and secures the SAC Lakeshore division at 4-0.  They end their regular season at home next Friday against Coloma (5-3).   Meanwhile, Schoolcraft falls to 5-3, 2-2 in the Valley, and must win week nine to guarantee a playoff spot.   They host Kalamazoo United (6-2) in a game that can be heard on the Slocum Sports Network.

Listen back to week eight’s game below:

PREVIEW: Schoolcraft (5-2) Hosts Watervliet (7-0)

10-13 football

Listen live online Friday evening on the Slocum Sports Network as the Schoolcraft Eagles host the Watervliet Panthers for week eight of the high school football season.  This is their first ever meeting as division rivals, with both being placed in the realigned SAC Valley for 2017.   It will also be the fifth consecutive year playing each other, meeting in the regular season of 2016 and 2015, along with the district finals of 2014 and 2013.

Watervliet enters at 7-0 overall and 3-0 in the Valley division, defeating Constantine (68-24), Delton Kellogg (58-44), and Kalamazoo United (52-34).   The Panthers have scored 406 points this season (58 per game), currently the most of any 11-man team in Michigan.   Their lowest output was 50 in their opener against Lawton and they’ve won each game by two touchdowns or more.

Schoolcraft is 5-2 overall and 2-1 in the Valley division, suffering the Valley loss last week to Coloma, 32-7.    Their division wins are over Constantine (35-8) and Delton Kellogg (42-14).   They need to defeat Watervliet or week nine foe Kalamazoo United to guarantee their ninth consecutive playoff berth.

Last season, Schoolcraft defeated Watervliet 51-30.   The Eagles edged the Panthers in 2015 as well, 34-33.  Watervliet took their 2014 district final meeting 28-21, with Schoolcraft taking the district crown 28-26 in 2013.   They’ve met only one other time in football, a 34-12 Schoolcraft district victory in 1999.

Listen live to Friday’s game online on the Slocum Sports Network with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. from Schoolcraft High School.

RECAP: Watervliet to 5-0, Outraces K-United 52-34

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Watervliet QB Zack Pickens warms up with WR Bryant Kieft

For the fifth consecutive week, the Watervliet Panthers have won by putting up 50 or more points.   The Panthers claimed their homecoming match over Kalamazoo United Friday 52-34, handing the Titans their first defeat of 2017.   It also gives Watervliet a 3-0 record over the Titans since the co-op formed.   Panther quarterback Zack Pickens set a career high, unofficially throwing for 455 yards.

Watervliet forced a three-and-out on the opening Titan drive, then scored on their opener with a 1-yard Bryant Kieft rush.  The two-point toss went to Garrett Matthews for an 8-0 start.   United struck on their second drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass from Eric Wenzel to Heath Baldwin, but stayed behind 8-6 after a sack on the two-point try.    Watervliet made it 2-2 on scoring drives and made the lead 14-6 with an 18-yard Pickens rush (their two-point try failed).

The Titans’ next drive ended in a fumble on a botched option run, recovered by Lamarrius Smith.   However, United was able to stop Watervliet for the first time on a turnover-on-downs.   The momentum switched right back with 8:49 remaining in the second quarter, as defensive tackle James Bell snagged a pass at the line and took it 51 yards for a score.   The two-point rush was denied for a 20-6 tally.

Less than a minute later, Wenzel connected again with Baldwin, this time for a 52-yard touchdown pass.   They found each other again for the two, putting the Titans back within six, 20-14.   The next Panther drive made it to the red zone, but ended in a fumble in what was ultimately their only giveaway of the game.  United had to punt, giving Watervliet time to score with 1:13 remaining on a 37-yard pass from Pickens to Kieft.   The two-point pass to Matthews gave the Panthers a 28-14 lead going into the break.

Watervliet started with the ball in the third and continued scoring, punching in with a 1-yard Pickens rush.   The two-point pass was completed to Ryan Chisek for a 36-14 score.   The Panthers attempted an onside kick and Wenzel recovered it and took off, going from his own 45 to within eight yards of the end zone.  It took all four downs, but the Titans scored with a seven-yard pass from Wenzel to Jacob Niesen.    The two-point try was intercepted, 36-20.

Watervliet again moved down the field with ease, scoring in about three minutes with a nine-yard pass from Pickens to Trent Boone.   Matthews’ third two-point catch pushed the score to 44-20 with 4:09 in the third.   Not even a minute later, Wenzel found a wide-open Christian Bartholomew for a 50-yard touchdown pass.  Wenzel’s two-point rush got them back within 16, 44-28.

The Kalamazoo United defense came alive, forcing a turnover-on-downs on back-to-back drives.  After the first, Wenzel found Baldwin for a seven-yard passing touchdown, getting them back within ten at the end of the third quarter 44-34, as the two-point rush was stuffed.

After the second, the Titans started a methodical drive with two fourth-down conversions.  However, the 11th play of the drive was a pass deflected by Boone, into the hands of Lamarrius Smith for an interception.   Kieft would soon get his second rushing touchdown, this one from five-yards out, and a two-point rush by Pickens pushed the score to its concluding point of 52-34.    The Titans’ last gasp would be a turnover-on-downs, followed by the Panthers draining the final four minutes.

The unofficial final line for Pickens; 26-40 passing, 455 yards, two passing touchdowns, along with 146 yards on the ground and two rushing scores.  Kieft had 200 yards receiving on seven catches, along with 41 rushing yards for three total touchdowns.  Both Boone and Matthews also had more than 100 yards receiving.

For Titan quarterback Eric Wenzel; 24-47 for 300 yards, five touchdowns, and two interceptions.  Bartholomew had 88 yards, Baldwin had 78.   The Titans were held to negative yards rushing.   Watervliet finished with 641 total yards, compared to 295 for the Titans.

Along with the 5-0 overall mark, the Panthers also begin SAC Valley division play at 1-0.   They have three straight road games against Valley rivals ahead with a trip to Delton Kellogg up next.   United falls to 4-1 and hosts another 4-1 squad, Coloma, for week six.    Listen back to week five’s broadcast below:

PREVIEW: Unbeaten, High-Octane Offenses Collide as Watervliet Hosts K-United

9-22 football

Listen live online Friday night on the Slocum Sports Network as the Watervliet Panthers host the Kalamazoo United Titans for week five of the high school football season.  Both teams are 4-0 and have been racking up points so far.   The Panthers have tallied 50 or more each week, while the Titans have averaged around 40-points per game.   Watervliet quarterback Zackery Pickens has thrown 14 touchdowns and rushed for 11.  On the other end, United QB Eric Wenzel has 18 TDs through the air.

The game also serves as the first contest of SAC Valley Division play and if the first four weeks are any indication, wins will be hard to come by in the Valley.  Along with the perfect starts for the Panthers and Titans, three teams (Schoolcraft, Coloma, & Constantine) sit at 3-1 overall with Delton Kellogg at 2-2.

The Titans have matched their longest win streak since forming the co-op and starting 4-0 in 2014.   Only in the inaugural season (6-4) have the Titans won more than four games in a year.   United opened with three wins over 2016 playoff teams, defeating Saugatuck (34-21), Gobles (49-14), and Lawton (45-21).   Last week, Fennville took them to the brink, but the Titans survived the road trip with a 34-26 win.

Like United, Watervliet downed Lawton (50-7 in week one) and Gobles (54-6 last week).   Two weeks ago, they topped Division 6 state runner-up Glen Lake 52-26.  They also outraced Buchanan 72-36.   While no strangers to high scoring throughout their current six-year playoff qualifying run, Watervliet’s 228 points is the highest the school has ever tallied through its first four games of a season.

These teams have met the last two seasons with both games won by Watervliet, 34-19 last season and 61-21 in 2015.

Listen live online to Friday’s game on the Slocum Sports Network with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. from Watervliet High School.