November 07, 2012 - Some games emphasize a team's offense or defense, while others show off individual skills of star players.
The Dragons cheer after scoring their winning touchdown. Photo by G. Ouzounian (click for larger version)
Some are all about the defense.
On Friday, when Lake Orion hosted Utica Eisenhower, the two strong defensive squads engaged in a knock-down, drag-out, fight-for-every-inch battle that saw Orion get a late touchdown to win, 10-7, and take the Division 1 district crown.
The Eagles were no slouches though, and took an early lead on a touchdown on the game's opening kickoff. Eisenhower led most of the game until the last 1:58.
Orion had a field goal in the second quarter to cut the lead to 10-3.
From there the two teams locked horns and pushed back and forth until late in the fourth quarter. The turning point came when halfback Cory Ester connected on a 32-yard an option pass to 6-foot-7-inch Chaz Miller for a first down on Eisenhower's 31. Miller fought off three defenders to make the grab.
Six plays later quarterback Derek DeLaura scored from the four yard line on a bootleg run to put Orion up 10-7 with just 1:58 left on the clock.
"They were a very good team and they gave us everything we could handle," said Coach Chris Bell. "Our kids just kept playing - they played hard for four quarters and they never got frustrated, and that's a credit to our kids. We were having trouble finishing drives and that can be very frustrating, but we hung in there."
Orion topped the Eagles on first downs 13-4.
The Dragons held the Eagles to just 76 total while netting 181 yards. Jacob Miller again led the rushing with 44 yards but was followed closely by junior Corey Ester with 33. Sophomore Matthew Krause, who was promoted from the JV, had 13 yards.
In the passing game, DeLaura threw for 57 yards while Chaz Miller had 77 receiving yards, 32 coming on the pass from Elster.
Bell praised his defense for their part in the win, saying they played "as good as they can play." He went further to say it was the best defensive effort the team had all year.
Despite trailing for most of the game, Bell said he knew what to expect from Eisenhower.
"They were huge up front, good athletes and well coached," said Bell. "We've played them three times in the last six years, but they have all been knock-down, drag-out fights. Every game looks the same - defensive battles. This was just very typical of another slugfest."
Eisenhower's defense, which was larger than Orion's presented a problem for the Dragons, though Bell said through a combination of speed and good blocking, Orion was able to pull through.
Next up for Orion are the Cougars of Macomb Dakota. Bell expects it to be a perfect night for playoff football and said his team will be ready to go.