West Catholic runs to third straight state title

West Catholic beat River Rogue 40-34 to win the Division 5 state championship. (Nov. 28, 2015)

DETROIT (WOOD) — The West Catholic football team seems to find a way to peak at the most opportune time.

The Falcons displayed it again this season and it carried them to a state championship.

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West Catholic captured its third consecutive Division 5 state title Saturday with a thrilling 40-34 win over River Rouge at Ford Field.

It was the Falcons’ fourth trip to the finals in a row and fifth in the past six years.

“It’s extremely special,” West Catholic coach Dan Rohn said. “A lot of people don’t get back down here after the first one so to be here the last four years and to have that type of success and put program at that level means a lot.”

The Falcons have won in past years with large seniors classes chalked with experience. This year’s group was different as many underclassmen contributed.

“We had a small senior class and I think a lot of people doubted this group,” Rohn said. “But for them to be here four years is pretty remarkable. This feels good, and the expectations are high for this program for the future.”

West Catholic junior David Fox rushed for 152 yards and three touchdowns to lead a ground attack that racked up 357 total yards.

Fox missed a majority of the regular season with a broken clavicle, but returned for the state tournament run.

“It was hard missing the season and then coming back now through the playoffs, I can’t say how great it was to be able to play again,” Fox said. “I had my doubts, but it all worked out.”

The Falcons started 1-2, but never lost sight of their goals.

“We knew we had a tough early schedule, but we stuck to our guns,” Rohn said. “Game 3 was probably our worst game of the season, but the kids continued to work hard and believed in the coaches.”

Fox said he and the team take pride in continuing the winning tradition at West Catholic.

“We set our goals at the end of spring, and our goal is to win a state championship,” Fox said. “We’ve managed to do it the last three years.”

Added junior Sam Neville, who added a 3-yard touchdown late to seal the win: “Anything less than a state championship is a disappointment for us. We didn’t want to disappoint anyone, and we still have another year ahead of us and nothing would be better than going out and getting that fourth one.”

West Catholic sophomore quarterback Gaetano Vallone rushed for 115 yards and threw for 84 yards and a touchdown, while Denny Alt had 13 carries for 79 yards.

The Falcons led 14-6 at halftime, but the second half was a back-and-forth scoring frenzy as a combined 54 points were tallied.

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