Senior wide receiver Andy Durand makes a catch against Ypsilanti earlier this season. He led the team on Oct. 5 with 5 catches for 126 yards and 1 touchdown. Photo by Dawn Miller

By: Seth Kinker,

 The Dexter Dreadnaughts, 5-2 (4-2), defeated the Pinckney Pirates, 2-5 (2-3), 17-14 on Oct. 5 in an SEC White conference matchup and Homecoming for the Dreadnaughts.

Coming into the game, the Dreadnaughts wanted to focus on stopping the Pirate run game, something they noticed the Pirates had been successful with throughout this season. Offensively, the Dreadnaughts thought they might have an advantage through the air with a stout defensive front for the Pirates.

“Just the flip side happened,” said Dreadnaught head coach Phil Jacobs. “They put five men in the box and said ‘You’re gonna have to run the ball,’ and Mason (Loudermilk) ran the ball hard. We felt like we had a good game plan ourselves through the air, but they came out and took that away from us too. They were doubling Antwan (Ficklen) over the top, their best corner and safety on him.”


After the first quarter, the Dreadnaughts led 7-0. They stopped the Pirates opening game drive and after a short Pirate punt that gave the Dreadnaughts the ball at the Pirate 37-yard line, used a 4:02 drive that ended in a 16-yard run for Dreadnaught senior running back Mason Loudermilk.

A few plays prior, Dreadnaught sophomore quarterback Colin Parachek found senior wide receiver Antwan Ficklen Jr. scrambling on a third and 14 in the back of the end zone, but the play was called back due to the whistle being blown prior to the snap.

Parachek finished the night 13-23 with 199 yards and 1 touchdown making the smart decision more often than not, whether throwing the ball away or checking down.

“Here’s the thing, what Colin does is he extends the play,” said Jacobs of his sophomore quarterback. “His eyes are downfield and if it’s not there he’s gonna live for another down. If our guy can’t catch it, neither can theirs.”

On the following Pirate drive, the Dreadnaught defense would come up with a fourth and goal stop at their own one-yard line after the Pirate took the ball 79-yards down the field after the kickoff. Senior middle linebacker David Kreske, junior defensive back Daniel Troncalli and a host of other Dreadnaught defenders stood up the run.

On the very next play, however, the Dreadnaughts gave the ball right back on a bad snap and the Pirates recovered on the Dreadnaught goal line. The following play, Pirate junior quarterback Joe Bona ran it to the left to tie the game 7-7 with 11:16 left in the half.

Bona finished with 46 yards on the ground for the Pirates, he also went 7-11 through the air with 104 yards and 1 interception.

After the kickoff went out of bounds the Dreadnaughts took over with good field position at their own 35-yard line. Senior wide receiver Andy Durand was key on the drive as the Dreadnaughts marched down the field capped off by a third and goal catch from Durand in the end zone at the Pirate 14-yard line.

Durand had two other catches on that drive, a 54-yard catch that got them deep into Pirate territory and a key third and seven catch to keep the drive alive. Durand finished with 5 catches 126 yards and the touchdown.

“They were pressing so we ran some switch routes and scissors to give us separation and Colin threw the ball my way and I went up and grabbed it,” said Durand on his touchdown grab.

Durand has a history with Pinckney, growing up playing with many of the current players before coming to Dexter for high school.

“It felt great, especially after a big loss last year,” said Durand on the win and his performance. “It felt satisfying playing good against all my friends. But more importantly, getting this win means getting closer to the playoffs.”

Ficklen has drawn attention from teams all season, whether kicking the ball away from him or doubling him in the passing game, but the Dreadnaughts have many playmakers on offense that can step up and make plays.

“He’s not a vocal leader, he leads by example,” said Jacobs of Durand. “He’s very unselfish. This is what he said, he played with all these kids up through eighth grade and he said ‘I don’t care if I touch the ball one time, I just want to win.’ It just so happened to be his number was called.”

The Dreadnaught defense came up with a stop on the following Pirate drive and had a chance to score before halftime. They drove from their own 10-yard line but were stopped deep in Pirate territory and had to settle for a field goal.

Pirate senior defensive lineman Jacob Price burst through the line to get a hand on it to keep the score 14-7 going into the half.

The Pirates caught the Dreadnaughts off guard on the opening second-half kickoff, recovering the ball after a Dreadnaught player touched the short onsides kick, but they couldn’t capitalize on the drive.

Scoring was low in the second half as the Dreadnaughts added a field goal from senior kicker Karl Kerska and the Pirates got one more touchdown from senior running back Ethan Stinson.

Stinson led the Pirate rushing attack, finishing with 72 yards and a touchdown.

“We were resilient the second half,” said Jacobs on his team. “We didn’t start the second half good. Onside kick off our kids’ hands, then turned the ball over. We didn’t get off to the right start in the second half, our defense was on the field the whole third quarter it seemed like. They stiffened when they had to.”

The Dreadnaughts offensive line gained control of the trenches as the game rolled on, paving the way for Loudermilk to finish with 139 yards and a touchdown.

With 2:52 remaining the Dreadnaughts had to punt, giving the Pirates one last chance trailing 17-14 after Stinson’s touchdown run early in the fourth quarter. Krekse sealed the game for the Dreadnaughts, picking off Bona on a second down pass. Joe Luallen gained 15 yards on a draw to allow the Dreadnaughts to kneel the clock out.

Kreske led the Dreadnaught defense with 3 tackles and the game-sealing pick, after the game Jacobs was ecstatic with the Dreadnaught defensive performance on the night.

“Our defense played outstanding tonight,” said Jacobs after the win. “We gave up 14 points, seven were from the turnover on the one-yard line. Other than that, our defense gave up seven points tonight. Coach (Steve) Mapes and staff put together a hell of a game plan. Our defense won that game tonight.”

That win puts Dexter one win away from their first-ever playoff berth.

Before the season Jacobs and his staff instilled a mentality in the team, focusing on whatever was in front of them. One game, one drive, one repetition, whatever it was, to focus on what was in front of them.

Earlier this season, when the Dreadnaughts won their first game since 2013, the team saw the effect it had on the community. They face two teams above .500 fighting for playoff spots to end the year, Jacobs was asked about the balancing act between the mentality instilled and the chance to give Dexter that first trip to the playoffs.

“We do have two good schools (remaining) and I think we’re a pretty good football team in our own right,” said Jacobs.  “We’re gonna play Lincoln next week, they were a playoff team last year. It’s gonna be a playoff atmosphere because I know Lincoln travels well. This was a playoff atmosphere here tonight. Hey who knows what gonna happen next week, that’s why you play the game on Friday night. We’re one down, one series, one game at a time and we’re gonna go from there. Whatever happens, happens. I know our kids are gonna show up for a fight. If we qualify next week they’ll be even hungrier the following week. It’s exciting, it’s fun, its uncharted territory here in Dexter right now and we’re having fun with it.”

Pictures by Mike Williamson