Fall is fast approaching, and that means the highly anticipated start of football season has finally arrived. Game two of Wayne State’s Xenith Prep Kickoff Classic Thursday night featured the Chippewa Valley Big Reds and the Detroit Catholic Central Shamrocks.
Before the game, Shamrock quarterback Declan Byle talked about the preparation that went into the season opener. “Chippewa Valley is a very good team. They won a state championship three years ago, and I know they have a great coach and will be ready for us.”
CC running back Mohamed Jaffer seconded that. “Chippewa Valley is always a well-respected team. They have a good coach and have a number of playmakers. We expect a fight and that’s what we’re prepared for. This season, the team has been working day in and day out. The only people who understand how much work we put in are the players and coaches.”
CC, who opted to receive the ball first, punted on their first drive, and Chippewa Valley responded with a 69-yard touchdown pass to Cephus Harris III with seven minutes to go in the first.
The Shamrocks quickly punched back, though, with a 47-yard touchdown pass from Byle to Raid Zerki, who was awarded with the team’s Iron Man Award after the game.
Just as it seemed CC was back in the game, the Big Reds responded with an 85-yard kick return for a touchdown on the ensuing kickoff. On their next possession, Harris scored a 26-yard touchdown, and the Shamrocks found themselves down 21-7.
Byle immediately gathered his receiving corps together in an attempt to motivate them. And CC responded with a 59-yard touchdown pass to Owen Semp, who rushed to the sideline to pump up his teammates. Despite another big kickoff return by the Big Reds on the kickoff, the Shamrocks were able to hold Chippewa Valley to a field goal, entering halftime trailing 31-14.
Coming out of halftime, the Shamrocks forced a third down, but then Harris, who won the game’s Most Valuable Player Award, ran for a 60-yard touchdown, his fourth score of the game.
CC later put a solid drive together with a big catch by Semp, a fourth down scramble by Byle, and a third-and-two touchdown pass to Spencer Lyons, but it was too little, too late. With three turnovers on the final three possessions, the Shamrocks fell 45-20.
Despite the loss, the Shamrocks still have a lot of optimism heading into week two as they look to avenge last year’s playoff loss to Davison.
While it certainly hurts to lose the first game of the season, the horizons are still bright for the Shamrocks, who remain a legitimate contender for the Catholic League and state championships.
Byle, who was awarded CC’s Most Outstanding Player Award after the game, is committed to his team no matter what. “Going through CC, I’ve really drawn a connection to my brothers and everyone involved in the school,” he said. “I’ve been with a lot of these guys all of high school. Senior year was something we always talked about, and now we’re really here. Being at CC is a very special privilege, and I want to represent the school as best as I can and uphold the great tradition that we have.”