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November 6, 2013

Walled Lake Western and Catholic Central football teams set to clash for district title

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Torrez Nesbit rushed for a 30-yard touchdown against Canton in a playoff opener. The Warriors face Catholic Central Saturday afternoon with a trip to the regional round on the line.

WALLED LAKE — Mike Zdebski has seen some big crowds during his tenure at Walled Lake Western.

But if the Warriors football coach has correctly prognosticated this weekend’s turnout, well, as he put it, “this will be the most attended football game this campus has ever seen.”

It’s tough to argue that, considering the loyal following Western has and the throngs of fans Novi Detroit Catholic Central is sure to bring to the Division 1 district final.

“It’s what you play for,” Zdebski added. “Games just like this.”

The teams will kick things off at 1 p.m. Saturday afternoon and the winner will move onto the regional round having survived one of, if not the toughest, districts the state had to offer.

Catholic Central reached the final thanks to a 35-14 victory at Northville High (8-2) in the playoff opener.

Western took a slightly more chaotic route.

Leading Canton High by 18 points in the second half, the Warriors allowed three, fourth-quarter touchdowns and trailed 41-38.

But, as he has all season, senior quarterback Kyle Bambard engineered one final drive, capping it with a 28-yard touchdown pass to David Walczyk with just 1:06 remaining in what turned out to be a 44-41 victory.

All of that is in the past now, though.

“All we can do is continue to get better,” Zdebski said. “We had moments last weekend where we played very well. We had other moments where that wasn’t the case. Our guys have to understand that with every game you play at this time of the year, everything is magnified. Little mistakes that won’t cost you early in the season can kill you now.”

Especially against a team like Catholic Central.

The Shamrocks are 8-2 this season with their only two setbacks coming to an unbeaten Birmingham Brother Rice team.

It’s also a program that’s won four straight district titles and has its radar locked on Ford Field, where its dropped the past two state finals to Cass Tech.

“We just have to make sure our kids understand what (Catholic Central) wants to do,” Zdebski said. “We have to be aware of their best personal and try to understand their game plan on both sides of the ball.”

Playing a team like Canton in the first round may help, too.

While the Chiefs certainly aren’t as talented, big or deep as Catholic Central, they do run a very similar offense, with three backs and a tendency to try and pound the football.

Catholic Central has done that, and well, for decades.

Still, Zdebski said he’s more focused on his guys, and what they have done so well all year long to the tune of a 9-1 record.

“Our focus is on us,” he added.

Bambard will certainly be key.

The playmaking quarterback has been dynamite all year, including in the postseason opener when he rushed 14 times for 217 yards and one touchdown, while completing 10-of-17 passes for 134 yards and three touchdowns.

The meeting between these teams, separated by roughly four miles, is the first since 2001 when Catholic Central won a D-1 state semifinal 31-0 en route to claiming a state championship.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.