Raiders win district title, knocks off #1 rated team


ALMONT — Nobody said it would be easy.

Almont (no. 4, Division 6) delivered their best performance to date, resulting in a 40-38 overtime win at the expense of top-ranked Warren Michigan Collegiate in a Region 4, District 1 championship football confrontation it hosted last Friday night.

The Almont football team poses for a photo after knocking off top-ranked Warren Michigan Collegiate, 40-38, in their Division 6 district title matchup last Friday night.

With the decision, Almont (10-1) advances to this Friday’s regional title game where it will entertain Detroit Edison (8-3). That matchup lists a 7 p.m. starting time. Warren Michigan Collegiate wraps up a 10-1 campaign.

“I loved how we started the game,” Almont Coach James Leusby commented. We came out firing on all cylinders,” he noted.

“I also knew they were the number one team in the state for a reason. They have good coaches so I figured they would adjust and make a run when they fell behind. I hoped our game experiences with North Branch, Armada and Cros-Lex would see us through their comeback and help us finish the game. Our kids are resilient and never give up. We are looking for another good effort this week.”

In Friday’s confrontation, Almont bolted out to a 16-0 advantage after one quarter was over with.

The second quarter would see Almont and Warren Michigan Collegiate generate eight points each, leaving the former with a 24-8 halftime lead to protect.

That was followed by a scoreless third quarter of play.

Quarter four would see Warren Michigan College put together a 24-8 rally, squaring the scoreboard count at 32 points apiece.

That set the stage for overtime.

It was there Almont won the coin toss and elected to take the ball first.

That decision would prove a wise one as Almont would score on their second play, thanks to a touchdown run courtesy of Chase Davedowski from one yard out.

Chase Battani followed it up with a two-point conversion run, giving Almont a 40-32 lead at the time.

Down but not out, Warren Michigan Collegiate kept the outcome in doubt a bit longer. The Cougars were able to accomplish the feat, delivering a one-yard touchdown run on their third offensive play.

Warren Michigan Collegiate then tried to acquire the equalizer on the PAT that followed only to see the ball fall inches short of its intended target.

Almont had prevailed. And oh what a finish it was at that!

The winning side generated their 32-point total during regulation aided by a Battani one-yard touchdown run (followed by a PAT tote by Ayden Ferqueron); a Jonny Gjoka nine-yard touchdown run (followed by a Battani PAT tote); an Ayden Ferqueron four-yard touchdown run (followed by a Battani PAT tote); and a Davedowski to Battani 33-yard touchdown pass (followed by an Ayden Ferqueron PAT tote).

For the evening, Davedowski completed one of five pass plays for 33 yards as Almont’s quarterback. He threw zero interceptions along the way.

His successful toss went to Battani.

The Almont ground attack wound up with 288 yards on 59 totes.

Battani (17 rushes for 131 yards) and Ayden Ferqueron (59 yards on 12 totes) supplied Almont’s best rushing totals. The remaining 30 Raider rushes netted a combined 98-yard gain.

Battani (seven solos and four assists), Luke Winkler (four solos and two assists) and Ayden Ferqueron (one solo and five assists) registered the highest Almont tackle totals. Jacob Fuller (five solo tackles), Gordon Stolecki (two solos and two assists), along with Cohen Ferqueron, Lucas Mantini and Brent Corneau (one solo and two assists each) made their presence felt as well.

The Almont defense also registered one takeaway. Winkler (an interception) furnished that.

Kevin Kissane has been covering high school sports for the Tri-City Times since 1985. When not standing on a field or court with his camera and notepad, he enjoys golf, travel and family. Kevin is a 1980 graduate of Capac High School, and is also a grad of St. Clair Community College and earned a degree in journalism from Central Michigan University.