Saline defeated Kalamazoo Central, 26-7, to open the playoffs at Hornet Stadium Saturday afternoon. Saline, 10-1, will host East Kentwood, 10-1, in the district championship at Hornet Stadium on Friday or Saturday.
The Hornets were led by their defense - which shut down the Maroon Giants, limiting them to 143 yards. Kalamazoo Central's only points came on a fumble recovery in the fourth quarter. Senior Brad Wisniewski, the 6'4 DE, led the Hornets with 8.5 tackles, including two sacks. Linebackers Alex Morrison (8 tackles) and Connor Terech (6.5 tackles) prohibited the Maroon Giants from getting beyond the second level. DT Adonis Gammo (5 tackles, 2 sacks) and DE Jonah Ashby (6 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss) also had big days.
Brendan Munday ran 27 times for 136 yards and the game's opening touchdown. Hayden Scott ran four times for 18 yards and a touchdown. QB Andrew Arbaugh completed 16 of 20 passes for 177 yards. He threw one touchdown and had an interception. His favorite target was MJ Griffin, who made four catches for 76 yards. Grant Sitterly made a 30-yard touchdown reception.
Saline's defense forced a three-and-out on the Maroon Giants' first possession. Wisniewski and Gammo had tackles for losses. Saline took over at its 49. Arbaugh passed to MJ Griffin for a 31-yard gain on first down. Three Munday rushes later, Munday was in the end zone celebrating a touchdown. Saline led 7-0 after JT Turner's kick.
The Saline defense allowed Kalamazoo Central to move the chains once on their next drive. But three plays later, the Giant Maroons' punt attempt was blocked. Saline scored two points on the safety. The Hornets led 9-0, halfway through the quarter.
Saline might have had great field possession after Joel Klomega's 54-yard return to the Maroon Giants' 13 -- but a penalty brought the play back to midfield. Still, on first down, Arbaugh threw to Griffin for a 27-yard pick up. Saline moved the ball down to the eight but settled for a 25-yard field goal from Turner.
The Hornets led 12-0.
Early in the second, after another Saline defensive stop, Saline began a drive at its own 30. A steady diet of runs by Munday and Hayden Scott, accented by short passes by Arbaugh, moved the ball into Kalamazoo territory. On 2nd-and-6 from the 30, Arbaugh lofted a pass over the middle to Grant Sitterly, who made the catch and then ran the last couple of yards into the end zone. Saline led 19-0.
Kalamazoo Central got on the board in the fourth quarter with a 57-yard run after a fumble recovery.
Trevor Arico set Saline's next drive up by receiving the kickoff at the 18 and running it 40 yards to the Maroon Giants' 42. Saline rushed the ball five times for 37 yards before Hayden Scott rushed in for a five-yard touchdown. Saline led 26-7.