Harrison Routs Seaholm in 1st Round of Football Playoffs, 35-0
Austin Hunter and Aaron Burbridge led the way for the Hawks, as Birmingham team fights to the end of a memorable season.
The star: Harrison's Aaron Burbridge, Jake Vento, and Lorenzo Collins will lead the highlight reels with their big plays, but senior tailback Austin Hunter truly led the way by moving the chains en route to 115 yards on 15 attempts and one rushing touchdown.
The turning point: On the first play of the game, the senior quarterback Vento took the handoff from his own 31-yard-line, scrambled left, and heaved a bomb to senior wide receiver Aaron Burbridge. It wasn't the greatest-thrown pass, but Burbridge adjusted his route and caught the ball in Seaholm territory before turning on the jets and running for a touchdown.
The quote: "I prepared them for that to know that (Harrison) is going to make big plays. ... I thought my kid was in good position, and (Burbridge) just reached over and grabbed it in. A great athlete made a great play." — head coach Joe Pobursky on Burbridge's touchdown reception.
Injury report: Vento suffered a leg injury in the second quarter, which knocked him out of the game. His status for next week's game is unknown.
What’s next? Harrison will host Birmingham Brother Rice at home next week in the second round of the Division 2 playoffs.
Bottom line: Harrison is ranked as the top team in the state with good reason — on paper, they are head-and-shoulders above even a solid team such as Seaholm. However, if the Hawks cannot recover from Vento's injury and numerous penalties they were dealt with Friday night, the party may be over earlier than expected.
The whole story
Farmington Hills Harrison came into Friday's playoff opener against Birmingham Seaholm as the No. 1-ranked team in the state, looking to set a tone of dominance.
The Hawks' 35-0 victory proved that they will be a force to be reckoned in the second round and beyond. Meanwhile, the Maples' valiant effort proved that they will be a force in the future.
Harrison senior tailback Austin Hunter led the way with 115 yards rushing on 15 carries and one touchdown scored, while senior quarterback Jake Vento and Aaron Burbridge were superb in hooking up for four completed passes, 121 yards, and one touchdown just between them.
The Hawks set the tone early with a terrific touchdown pass on the first play of the game. Vento took the handoff from his own 31-yard-line, scrambled left, and heaved a bomb to one of the state's top players and future Michigan State Spartan, Burbridge. It wasn't the greatest-thrown pass, but Burbridge adjusted his route and caught the ball in Seaholm territory before turning on the jets and running for a touchdown.
The touchdown throw may have thrown the loud home crowd into a frenzy, but the Maples did not let it deter them. "I thought my kid was in good position, and (Burbridge) just reached over and grabbed it in. A great athlete made a great play," said Maples head coach Joe Pobursky. "I asked them to bring their A-game and play 48 minutes and they did and I’m pleased with that."
The Hawks added to their lead with two more touchdowns in the second quarter from sophomore tailback Lorenzo Collins off of a Vento pass, and a six-yard touchdown scamper from Hunter. Harrison head coach John Herrington said that he felt Hunter stepped up his game after coming back from an injury.
"I thought Austin had a real big game today, he played well with Lorenzo," said Herrington. "It's great. With Lorenzo you have a little dash and with Austin you have more power ... but I thought they both played well today."
The Hawks admittedly let Seaholm hang around, to the point where the Maples were within striking distance in the second quarter after senior quarterback John Glazier helped bring them to the Harrison 17-yard-line after a 20-yard pass to senior wideout J.D. Hess. Harrison had six penalties in the first half alone, much to Herrington's chagrin.
"We had four penalties in a row on one drive and that's just not championship football," Herrington said.
The Hawks were also hurt by a second quarter injury to Vento, who was relieved in the second half by senior quarterback Lamarr Marshall. Burbridge did not see a pass after that, and Marshall only attempted two passes.
"(Seaholm) stacked the box and we threw a couple, but then Jake didn't have any mobility, and we couldn't throw," Herrington said. "He’s our punter, our punt returner, our safety, and our quarterback, and it affected us quite a bit. We’re not going to make any excuses – the other kids stepped up and played real well."
The loss concludes a memorable season for the Maples, who dealt with the sudden death of head coach Nick Deane last spring. Pobursky said that he was impressed with his team's motivation.
"We had a good sophomore class, we’re getting them prime and bigger and stronger, hopefully we can make the playoffs more," Pobursky said.
Harrison will take on Birmingham Brother Rice next weekend in the second round of the playoffs at home. The time is yet to be announced.
Birmingham Seaholm 0, Farmington Hills Harrison 35
SHS – 0 0 0 0 - 0
HHS – 7 14 15 13 – 34
HHS: Burbridge 69 pass from Vento (Buckner knick)
HHS: Collins 19 pass from Vento (Buckner kick)
HHS: Hunter 6 run (Buckner kick)
HHS: Funchess 6 pass from Marshall (Buckner kick)
HHS: Collins 3 run (Buckner kick)
SHS: List 10-33, Nadolski 6-10, Glazier 3-7, Johnson 2-minus-8. Team: 21-42. HHS: Collins 9-37, Huckleby 2-22, Vento 3-minus-9, Marshall 2-2, Hunter 15-115, Burbridge 1-6, Coleman 1-4, Massey 2-2, Moner 1-5, 2-0. Team: 36-182.
SHS: Glazier 10-25-91-1. HHS: Marshall 2-2-19-0, Vento 7-9-148-0. Team: 9-11-167-0.
SHS: Hess 4-48, Palmeri 3-19, Czajka 2-22, List 1-2. Team: 10-91. HHS: Funchess 2-19, Burbridge 4-121, Collins 2-19, Coleman 1-8. Team: 9-167.
SHS: 6-4, (5-3 OAA Blue). HHS: 10-0 (7-0 OAA White).