Bulldogs Topple Indians to Qualify for Playoffs

By Mike Williamson- mwillie3@hotmail.com

Make it 19 out of 20 years for the Chelsea football team as the Bulldogs qualified for the state playoffs with a 42-21 win over Tecumseh Friday night.

Dating back to 1999 when the MHSAA expanded the playoffs to include all teams with at least six wins, the Bulldogs have missed the playoffs just once in 2013. Not many schools the size of Chelsea can compete with those numbers and while it is a common occurrence for Chelsea football fans, it is something new for first-year head coach Josh Lucas as he leads a team to the playoffs for the first time.

The Bulldogs started the season 3-0 but hit a dry spell dropping games to Lincoln and Jackson to drop to 3-2 on the season. They have since rattled off three straight wins by outscoring its opponents 119-29 to get to the six-win mark and are playoff bound.

Chelsea used a balanced offensive attack to take down Tecumseh.

The Bulldogs passed for 235 yards and rushed for 229 to outgain The Indians 464-275 in total offense.

Chelsea got things started quickly as Quinn Starkey hit Hunter Neff with an eight-yard scoring pass just 1:19 into the game for a 7-0 lead.

Tecumseh bounced back with a pair of scores to take a 14-7 lead after one quarter, but it was all Bulldogs from there.

Starkey connected on scoring passes of 11-yards to Nick Christian and nine-yards to Neff and snuck one in from a yard out to give the Bulldogs a 28-14 lead at the half.

Mitch Reynolds scored on a 21-yard run in the third to make it 35-14.

The Indian got one back with a TD run late in the third, but Brennan VanRiper sprinted in from 40-yards out to make it 42-21 after three and that is how it would end.

VanRiper led the rushing attack with 118 yards and a score, while Aaron McDaniels finished with 77 yards on 12 carries. Reynolds rushed for 25 yards and a score and Kyle Knight 11 yards on two carries.

Starkey finished 17-21 passing for 228 yards and three TD passes. Knight completed two passes for seven yards.

Reynolds caught six passes for 63 yards, while Neff caught five for 71 and two scores. Christian added four catches for 80 yards and a TD, and Knight two catches for 14 yards.

Daniel Golding had a big game on defense with eight tackles and two quarterback sacks. Joe Taylor added seven tackles and Evan Vaughn six.

The Bulldogs wrap up the regular season Friday with a long road trip to Alpena (2-6).

Picture by Lynne Beauchamp

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