- Updated: 9:29 p.m. with more information
After an ugly incident last week which resulted in one player being taken from the playing field in handcuffs, the West Bloomfield High School football team jumped out to an early lead against Pontiac at Homecoming Friday night and didn't look back.
The 31-14 win capped an "emotional" period for the team and its coaching staff, the latter of which lost its defensive coordinator over an apparent disagreement with head coach Ron Bellamy stemming from an alleged assault and battery of a Stoney Creek assistant coach by a Lakers football player.
"In my football career of playing and coaching, I’ve never been through anything as emotional as this week," Bellamy said. "We didn’t practice Monday. We just had a team meeting. I told my boys how I felt about them and how much I love being around them. The highs and lows, you stick together. Most kids would have folded, but these kids came out and played their butts off."
In front of a large, noisy crowd, the Lakers' defense forced four turnovers and scored a touchdown on a punt block, en route to a 17-0 lead at halftime.
After forcing Pontiac "three-and-out" on its first possession, West Bloomfield took advantage of a short field. On the third play of the drive, freshman quarterback Tristan Jackson faked a handoff to tailback Daylen Fields and hit junior wide receiver Brighton Unaegbu on a touchdown pass from six yards out.
The Lakers forced two sacks on the ensuing Phoenix position before senior linebacker John Hubbard blocked a punt attempt in the end zone, which was quickly scooped up by senior defensive back Caleb McCurtis. It was a great return from the game against Stoney Creek, McCurtis said, as he left that game in an ambulance after suffering a "stinger" on the field.
"That was a dream come true," McCurtis said of the play, "to have scored a touchdown in this game in my senior year. I don't think we've won a Homecoming game in my time here, so it really meant a lot to win this. I just have to give the credit to all of the team and coaching staff."
The defense continued to hold steady, allowing Pontiac all the way to the Lakers' 11 yard-line late in the first quarter before sophomore defensive back Obbie Jackson took the possession into his own hands. Jackson broke up a pass in the end zone on third down, saving a touchdown, before blocking another pass on the next play to force the turnover.
Sophomore Connor Genrich gave the Lakers a 17-0 lead as time expired at the half. As part of Homecoming festivities, seniors Danny Lipsky and Janelle Hasenauer were honored as Homecoming King and Queen.
The Lakers (2-6, 1-6 Red Division) kept the pressure on Pontiac (1-7, 1-6 Red Division) in the second half — immediately answering a Phoenix touchdown by senior tight end Samuel Blakeston on the first drive with a 38-yard run by tailback Daylen Fields. Fields scored from 12 yards out just two plays later, giving the Lakers a 24-7 advantage.
West Bloomfield's junior free safety Matthew Curtis helped put the game out of reach for good with an interception on Pontiac's ensuing drive.
The Lakers play on the road next week; Bellamy said that Farmington Hills Harrison would probably be their opponent.