DEWITT, Mich (WLNS) – When keeping track of how DeWitt and Mason were both doing this season, you could have predicted months ago that they would battle for the district championship. Division 3 saw a top-five matchup on Friday night, as the undefeated No. 1 ranked DeWitt Panthers hosted the No. 5 ranked Mason Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs showed their bite on a long first drive but after a missed 27-yard field goal by Kevin Zehnder, the Panthers took over and never looked back. On DeWitt’s second drive of the game, the Panthers capped it off with a 1-yard touchdown by Andrew Debri to open up the scoring.
On the ensuing drive, Mason’s quarterback Chance Strickland tried to throw a moon-scraper of a pass downfield but it fell into the hands of DeWitt’s Luke Bresser who returned it 62 yards for a pick-six. Another missed extra point from DeWitt made it 13-0 Panthers at the end of the first quarter.
As the game went on, more missed opportunities from the Bulldogs offense turned into DeWitt touchdowns. DeWitt’s Connor McKean got free for a 47-yard touchdown run and the Panthers completed the two-point conversion to make it 20-0 with seven minutes left in the second quarter.
Right before halftime, McKean ran in another touchdown, this time for only 10-yards but the Panthers once again completed the two-point conversion making it 28-0 DeWitt at the break.
The Bulldogs tried to turn the tide in the second half but that’s when DeWitt began to dominate through the air. Quarterback Tyler Holtz threw a quick screen pass to Luke Bresser and he did the rest of the work, taking it 56-yards for another Panthers’ touchdown only one minute into the third quarter.
Holtz would find his target one more time dropping a pass perfectly into the hands of Bresser in the back of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown. Another two-point conversion was completed to make it 43-0, DeWitt with six minutes left in the game.
The running clock began after that last touchdown and the Panthers would hold on to win it 43-0, their fifth shutout this season.
After hoisting the trophy and celebrating with his teammates, Bresser shared what it meant to him and the rest of the Panthers to be crowned district champions for the second year in a row.
“That’s one of the best feelings I think anybody on this team could ever have,” said Bresser. “We worked our butts off since fourth grade, trying to make a run and that trophy is just a sign that it’s all paying off, and hopefully we can just keep rolling.”
DeWitt’s head coach Rob Zimmerman was pleased with the balance of his team’s performance against Mason but knows there’s a lot that they have to improve on during their quest for a state championship.
“The whole key is we’re just trying to get better, we want obviously to continue to move on and play for hopefully at some point a state championship,” said Zimmerman. “Playing as well as we did on both sides of the ball certainly is a good thing and we gotta get back to work on Monday and get ready for our next game whoever that is.”
The Panthers will face either St. Joseph or Stevensville Lakeshore in the Regional Final round next week.