4Frenzy Game of the Week: Belleville vs Novi

Belleville, the defending state champs, beat Novi 41-10.

2022 4Frenzy Game of the Week - Belleville vs Novi

4Frenzy is back with our Games of the Week! Local 4 kicked off the season covering a highly competitive matchup between the Belleville Tigers and Novi Wildcats at Wayne State University.

Highlights aired on Local 4 News at 11pm., Saturday at 6 a.m. and on Local 4+.

Make sure you check back in with us because the 4Frenzy Fall Fan Choice Awards for Sports, Marching Band and Spirit Squad start September 8th.

The Belleville Tigers entered the season coming off the first state championship run in program history. They came into the season ranked No. 2 in Michigan and No.77 nationally. After a phenomenal run to the division one state championship, Belleville’s head coach, Jermain Crowell is looking to put last season behind him and is focused on this season.

“One year doesn’t have anything to do with the year before. We’re just focused on playing Belleville football,” Crowell said.

Belleville has a record of 72-12 since Coach Crowell’s regime started in 2015 and he’s played a vital role in developing its brand of football and culture while also establishing the team as a football powerhouse in Michigan.

“You get what you earn by being accountable and responsible,” Crowell said. “You put in work and you will eventually get paid. Just keep working to be the best player you can be and if it’s going to help us be a better team, you will be paid for it.”

That culture of hard work and accountability translates into the team’s ability to consistently turn out capable players year after year. Belleville is coming into this season after losing two big time playmakers, Deshaun Lee and Jeremiah Caldwell but has several quality receivers this season to work with, including Mychal Yharbrough, Jalen Johnson, Kevin Simes and Dennis Crawford.

“Our roster turns over every year,” Crowell said. “Every year we do okay with replacing guys with whoever is next. Deshaun Lee was a four year starter and Jeremiah Caldwell was a three year starter. This is apart of what we do every year. We always have new guys ready to go.”

One of the team’s most capable players, Bryce Underwood, was a standout QB in his freshman season for Belleville in their championship run. He was named MaxPreps Freshman of the year and threw for 2,888 yards, 39 TDs, and four INTs, adding six rushing TDs. Going into his sophomore season, Crowell expects to see continued growth of Underwood’s leadership.

“I expect Bryce to continue to progress and manage the ball and the team,” Crowell said. “We just want him to manage the game. As the quarterback you’re the coach on the field. With him being so young, we try not to pressure him too much but with him being so special, he’s been able to handle the pressure of being a leader.”

On the flip side, after Jim Sparks got the head coaching job last season, Novi found instant success after finishing with a 5-5 record. Four of those wins came against tough KLAA West league competition and was their best record since 2016.

Sparks has had a full offseason to help players improve and is bringing back seven starters on offense and six on defense. He has three-year starter in Luke Aurilia at quarterback, four-year starter Cole Shires at running back, wide receiver Colin Masterson, tight end Niko Krall and offensive lineman Preston Phimister on offense. While also bringing back safety Preston Johnson, cornerback Martez Langford and defensive end Andrew Abler on defense.

This opening night game against the defending champs was a huge test for the Wildcats. The Wildcats have a real chance to compete for the KLAA West league title. If Novi and Belleville both win divisional titles, that could potentially set up another matchup against Belleville in the KLAA final.

About the Author:

Isaiah is an MSU grad working as an intern in the Creative Services Department this fall.