Zeeland West wins battle of defending state champs

Football Frenzy, Zeeland West, West Catholic, MHSAA football
Zeeland West quarterback Hunter Blauwkamp runs to score in a game against West Catholic on Sept. 9, 2016)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Zeeland West stayed perfect Friday night, finishing one of the toughest early season schedules in the state by beating defending state champion Grand Rapids West Catholic 38-22.

“This is a game that I was looking forward to all year,” Zeeland West Dux wide receiver Connor Chupailo said. “We played Cedar Springs and Mona Shores the first two games — this is the one I wanted the most. We completed the trifecta.”

Zeeland West (3-0) controlled the game by keeping West Catholic’s (2-1) offense on the sidelines. The Dux gained 367 yards on the ground on 55 carries and dominated time of possession 30:54 to 16:54.

Shockingly, though, perhaps the biggest play of the game for Zeeland West came through the air. Quarterback Hunter Blauwkamp hit Chupailo for a rare 24-yard touchdown pass at the end of the third quarter, putting the game out of reach.

Playing wide receiver for Zeeland West doesn’t usually result in many catches. After the game, Chupailo had to think for a moment to remember his last touchdown catch.

“That’d be sophomore year. We’re not much of a throwing team,” he said.

>>Sept. 9 Football Frenzy

The first-ever meeting between these powerhouse programs meant someone’s winning streak would end. Defending Division 5 state champion West Catholic had won 13 straight before Friday’s loss. The win for defending Division 4 state champion Zeeland West was their 17th straight.

Zeeland West started the scoring early after West Catholic fumbled the opening kickoff return. Running back Drake Fincannon scored from two yards out to give the Dux an early 6-0 lead on the road.

West Catholic responded quickly. Quarterback David Fox took off for a 45-yard run to put the Falcons in front 7-6 with 6:50 left in the first quarter.

From that point on, Zeeland West seemed to slowly seize control. Every time it looked like the Falcons had made a stop, Zeeland West would come through with a key conversion. The Dux finished 5 of 12 on third downs and a perfect 5-for-5 on fourth downs.

Blauwkamp and Tucker Martinez each added touchdown runs of more than 40 yards in the first half to give Zeeland West a 22-7 halftime lead.

West Catholic got back in the game when Fox threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Sam Neville with 5:01 left in the third quarter.

That’s when Zeeland West surprised everyone with a pass. Chupailo’s touchdown catch gave the Dux a 30-14 lead late in the third quarter.

Alonzo DeLaRosa added a touchdown run for the Dux with 3:51 left, giving Zeeland West a 38-14 lead.

In the closing seconds, Fox sprinted 21 yards to cut Zeeland West’s lead to 38-22.

Zeeland West’s defense also played well, holding West Catholic to 267 yards of offense.

“We’ve played against three great football teams in three weeks,” Zeeland West Coach John Shillito said. “We’re a little battered, but we are 3-0 and we’re excited about it.”

Next week, West Catholic hosts Spring Lake. Zeeland West will continue its four-game road trip at Unity Christian.

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