Goodrich – A year ago Brady Triola experienced something that the previous seven Fenton varsity football teams didn’t.
The Tigers seven-year run as either outright Metro champs or co-Metro champions ended.
“We were heartbroken last year when we lost it,” Triola said. “All of the seniors on the team last year were heartbroken when we lost it. We all felt bad and we all had to redeem ourselves this year. We had to come out stronger than ever. All offseason we had to put in the work.”
The Tigers put in the work and got their reward Friday against the Goodrich Martians on Goodrich’s home field. Fenton won the first-ever Metro League Championship Game, defeating Goodrich 42-21.
“It’s crazy. Nobody has done it before,” Triola said. “It’s just special for us. Our coaches have been saying all year nobody is going to be the first champion, except for us. Nobody can take that way.”
“It’s different because the joint league they created this year,” Fenton starting quarterback Dylan Davidson said. “So to be the first one to come home and bring it home is special. We added four teams (to the league) so to come home being No. 1 out of all of them is cool and is something we’ll remember forever.”
The teams earned their spots in the title game with undefeated league records in their respective divisions during the season. And the teams battled hard like you’d expect from two division champions early on. However, as the game slowly went on, it was apparent that the Tigers were the stronger team.
Fenton took the lead for good early in the second quarter when Davidson hit Triola with a nine-yard TD reception with 11:14 left in the first half. Braden Moore made the second of six extra-points he’d nail, giving the Tigers a 14-7 lead.
Fenton’s defense had to contend with Goodrich’s Tyson Davis who had some of the shiftiest moves of any prep player in the state. And while he had his moments, the Tigers kept him in check. On Goodrich’s next possession, Davis started it with a 12-yard run, but three plays later Fenton’s defense forced Goodrich to punt. Fenton followed the punt with an eight-play 66-yard touchdown scoring drive. Sparked by 17-yard and 12-yard completions from Davidson to Ethan Pyeatt and a 22-yard run by Davidson, the Tigers scored on Kaleb Anderson’s two-yard run. Fenton led 21-7 with 7:26 left in the half.
From that point on, the Martians were playing a serious game of catch-up. They had chances to cut into the gap, but never were able to get any closer than 14 points. A fake punt on Goodrich’s next possession resulted in an incompletion and a turnover on downs to Fenton. The Tigers were forced to punt quickly, and Goodrich had one more chance to score before the half. Facing a first-and-10 at its own 33, Goodrich’s Luke Robinson caught a pass with no defenders around him as the half was ended. However, Triola was able to chase him down and tackle him at the Fenton 11, ending the half.
“After I saw him all I was worried about was the cutback,” Triola said. “As long as I took the right angle I had him.”
Goodrich drove inside the Tigers’ territory on the first possession of the second half, but was forced to turn the ball over on downs. Goodrich, again, got to Fenton’s side of the field, getting as deep as Fenton’s 12. However, a sack and a Goodrich penalty quickly moved the ball back to the 38, where the drive stalled.
Fenton pretty much iced the game on its next possession. Taking just five plays, the Tigers drove 90 yards for their fourth TD score. It came on Davidson’s 63-yard quarterback keeper. Fenton led 28-7 with 10:54 remaining in the contest. If that score didn’t ice it then Fenton’s Amari Westbrook recovering the ensuing kickoff may have done it. Just two plays later, Brandon Miller was scoring on a sweep run for a nine-yard TD. Fenton led 35-7.
Goodrich did get a couple of late-game TDs, and Miller added a 29-yard TD run in between the Martians’ scores, but the competitive phase of the game was effectively already over.
“I think this is the first game both on offense and on defense we played well,” Fenton varsity football coach Jeff Setzke said. “We scored plenty of points. We possessed the ball. We ran when we needed to. We threw it when we needed to. The defense bended but didn’t break. We gave up some plays but we always kind of stalled them out down here.
“Tyson Davis is a really good player and during the last two weeks he had eight touchdowns. We knew if we could handle him, we’d be okay. He didn’t get in the end zone so this was pretty good.”
In the first quarter, the teams each scored TDs. Fenton took the opening drive 64 yards in 10 plays, scoring on Jaden Lainesse’s two-yard run. The play before that score, Miller had a 26-yard run. Goodrich scored on its second possession on a 10-yard TD reception by Tucker Reickel.
Fenton’s offense collected 323 yards rushing and 103 yards in the air. Davidson collected 167 yards on 12 carries while Miller had 148 yards on 21 carries. Goodrich had 337 yards total offense, but took 66 plays to get those yards. Triola intercepted a pass.
The Tigers (7-1) play a non-league game at home against Walled Lake Northern. A victory would probably earn Fenton a home game in the opening round of the playoffs.
“Each week it’s about building on something and we’ve done that,” Setzke said. “I like the way it’s going. We had Linden, Flushing Goodrich and we finish with Walled Lake Northern. That’s a tough way to finish but that’s what gets you ready for November football. Our kids are not afraid with anybody.”