By Kam Willer
On Friday night, the Tigers did just that.
After four electrifying quarters, in front of an excited crowd at Muskegon Heights High School, the Tigers dealt with the Granville Calvin Christian Squires and ran away with a 36-12 victory.
Van Parker had the Tigers more focused and disciplined as the game moved along.
“The defense, they played a tough and a physical game,” said Parker when asked what unit stepped up the most on Friday night.
That was very much the case as the Tigers racked up a combined nine sacks, five interceptions, and six tackles for a loss.
The Tigers didn’t give Calvin Christian quarterback Paul Bouma IV much time in the pocket by a relentless pass rush that seemed to get stronger as they settled in.
Leading the Tiger defense was senior linebacker Warren Deshawn who racked up six tackles, a sack and an interception that came off a deflection early in the second quarter.
Dewshawn’s play making set the tone the rest of the game for the Tigers.
Another key contributor was sophomore defensive lineman Willie Speech who had two sacks, eight total tackles and a blocked punt.
The Muskegon Heights offense also came to play.
Quarterback Ja’kari Edwards led the Tigers, throwing for three touchdowns on 6 of 12 passing for 127 yards. The senior also ran for 71 yards on seven carries.
“Never any surprises, we’ve got some kids who can play,” said Parker on the way his offense stepped up on Friday night.
Leading senior receiver Ashton Smith caught a pair of passes for 75 yards, including a long 50-yard slant he took to the house to make the Tigers’ final score of the game.
Muskegon Heights had a promising opening drive, connecting on a 15-yard run by Anthony Floyd. But the drive was stalled out by miscue with the center and quarterback resulting in a fumble recovered by Calvin Christian.
On the ensuing drive, the Squires rolled down hill with a 10 yard run by James Daniels that put his team into Tiger territory.
But the Tigers’ defense was able to stuff a fourth and three to force a turnover on downs and a 0-0 tie after the first quarter.
The Tiger defense again stood up to Calvin Christin in the second quarter, led by an Anthony Floyd sack that forced a fourth down.
Edwards finally gave the Tigers a 8-0 lead that capped off a six-play Muskegon Heights drive. Edwards found the end zone on a broken play where he needed to push off four Calvin Christian defenders to run in from 12 yards out.
A 30-yard rush by Floyd set up the Tigers to get on the board.
The Tigers led at half, 8-0.
An Ashton Smith interception on the Tigers’ 15-yard line, helped his team stop a Squire drive in the third quarter.
Damond Davis put Muskegon Heights up 16-0, connecting on a tipped pass in the end zone. Floyd set up the score with a 31 yard run down to the nine yard line.
Muskegon Heights led 16-6 early in the fourth quarter as the Squires answered back on a seven-play drive that was capped off by a two-yard run by Bouma.
But the Tigers offense responded seven seconds later with 75-yard touchdown reception by Smith. The ensuing 2-point conversion was good on a run by Jimarea Jackson and Muskegon Heights led 24-6.
Muskegon Heights’ Floyd gave his team a 30-6 lead on a four-yard run that was set up on a 24-yard catch by senior Hanif Guyton.
The Squires tried to strike back with a nifty one handed catch by Jace Hogan for 35 yard gain. But the Tigers defense responded with a sack by Floyd causing another stand for the Tigers.
The Tigers totaled 341 yards of offense compared to Calvin’s 290.