Football

Lenawee Christian Earns 1st Title Triumph

January 16, 2021

By Tim Robinson
Special for Second Half

BRIGHTON — Adrian Lenawee Christian coach Bill Wilharms liked his team’s chances going into the 8-Player Division 1 Playoffs.

When the championship game was switched from outdoors in Midland to indoors at the Legacy Center in Brighton, he liked them a whole lot more. 

“We’ve got power, but speed is what we base ourselves on,” he said. “And the whole thought of basketball-on-grass when we’re on offense helps.”

The Cougars (11-0) took advantage, overwhelming Suttons Bay from the start in a 47-0 win in Saturday’s Division 1 Final.

Lenawee Christian put that speed to good use early, getting its first touchdown after a blocked punt by Jameson Chesser, and picking up its second with a 36-yard punt return for a touchdown by Ashur Bryja. 

The Cougars never looked back, putting the game out of reach on the arm and legs of quarterback Landon Gallant, who threw two touchdown passes to Chesser, of 57 and 22 yards, and ran one in himself to give Lenawee Christian a 33-0 halftime lead. 

Meanwhile, the Cougars’ defense was seemingly everywhere. 

Suttons Bay had just 52 yards in total offense, and completed only 2 of 14 passes while getting sacked seven times. 

“They closed on the ball very well,” Norsemen coach Garrett Opie said. “They’re fast, they’re athletic and they did a great job. We were trying certain mixtures in plays and feeling things out at the beginning of the game, and they did so well against many of our looks.”

The Cougars, meanwhile, piled up 400 yards in total offense, 289 of that through the air. Gallant completed 14 of 21 passes for 267 yards, while Bryja was 4-for-4 for 22 yards. 

Chesser finished with four catches for 127 yards while also rushing for 52 yards. Elliott Addleman had four catches for 116 yards.

In fact, Suttons Bay’s biggest play came late in the game via its defense, when Michael Wittman picked up a fumble and returned it 37 yards before Bryja knocked him out of bounds, preventing a touchdown. 

It was the first title for Lenawee Christian, which completed its first season of the 8-player format.

“it feels great,” said linebacker Brandon Scott, who led the Cougars with 10 tackles. “To do it with this team makes it a lot better. All the things we went through, all the pauses, who’d have thought we’d be finishing high school football in January? And indoors?”

“It’s tremendous for the Adrian community,” Wilharms said. “In Lenawee County, we’re pulling for Clinton next week to win it in (11-player) Division 6. We’re a brotherhood. It means a lot to us.” 

Opie, an Adrian High School graduate who went to school with Wilharms' wife and sister-in-law, saw his team lose in the Division 1 Final for the second year in a row, but took the loss philosophically.

“They’re a phenomenal team,” he said of Lenawee Christian. “They had a lot of talent on their team and did a fantastic job. I’m very proud of our team for our 10-0 season. This is a very tough loss. We don’t want to go out this way, but it’s a privilege to be here, so we’ll take it with us and be very happy about it."

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Adrian Lenawee Christian’s Clay Ayers breaks through an opening during Saturday’s Division 1 Final. (Middle) The Cougars’ Elliott Addleman hauls in a pass. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.