By: Dan Stickradt
FOOTBALL: Fenton maintains Grange Hall ‘grudge' on rival Holly
BY DAN STICKRADT
HOLLY — As the Flint Metro League celebrates its 50th school year of existence, arch-rivals Fenton and Holly, the only two schools to compete in the league the whole half century, celebrated another meeting on the grid-iron Friday night.
And like in most recent years, it was Fenton holding the upper edge on the field in the Grange Hall Grudge battle.
Behind the play of Josh Czarnota, one of Michigan’s top prep quarterbacks, Fenton cruised to a commanding 42-6 FML triumph over the host Bronchos — the Tigers’ sixth straight over Holly.
Czarnota finished 7-for-13 passing for 133 yards and two touchdown passes to go along with 119 rushing yards on 20 carries for the Tigers.
The win qualified Fenton (6-0, 5-0) for the postseason for the 10th straight season and 17th time overall, while it marked the sixth straight win this season in which the Tigers set off the running clock in the second half.
Fenton can set the FML all-time record with a seventh straight FML title if it wins its final two league games against Flushing and Swartz Creek. Currently, the Tigers six straight league titles is tied with Oxford (1990-95).
“That’s one of our goals, to win the league for the seventh straight time. That’s never been done before,” smiled Czarnota. “We feel we have the (team) to do it.”
Fenton never trailed, going 85 yards on 15 plays on the opening drive, capped by Spencer Rivera’s 2-yard plunge with 2:26 to go in first quarter.
Holly marched back with a 10-play, 56-yard drive of its own with D.J. Tennis catching a 6-yard TD strike from Cade Dallwitz at the 10:32 mark of the second quarter, but the extra point failed.
The Fenton defense held the opposition to under 15 points for the fourth straight week, thwarting Holly for the final 2.75 quarters.
“Our offense is very good. We have a very experienced QB and we’re seven deep at receiver, but our defense is underrated,” noted Fenton coach Jeff Setzke. “When it boils down to it, defense wins championships and our defense has come a long ways. We have a bunch of juniors on defense and we start a freshman there and you wouldn’t know it. And we start a sophomore right next to him. Our defense is beginning to (gel) and really play well. That has helped make us a very balanced team.”
The Tigers’ Josh Maher blazed an 89-yard trail for a kickoff return and 14-6 advantage with 10:19 left to help open the floodgates.
Fenton forced Holly to turn the ball over on downs on the Tigers’ 32, with Czarnota firing a 32-yard pass down the near sideline to Chanse Stezke for a quick strike and 21-6 halftime lead.
Braden Moore converted all three extra points in the first half and was 6-for-6 in the contest.
Fenton continued to pull away in the third quarter, as Czarnota hit Maher with a 24-yard pass over the middle for a 28-6 lead.
The Tigers struck again when Czarnota scored on a 1-yard run with 9:15 remaining. Lance Maycord tacked on a 24-yard TD sprint in the fourth quarter for Fenton.
“We’re well blanked and I think we can wear teams down a bit,” said Coach Setzke.
Chanse Setzke caught four passes for 73 yards for Fenton, while Rivera added 72 yards on 14 carries for the Tigers, who out-gained Holly 362-175.
Dallwitz finished 8-for-20 passing for 97 yards, but threw two interceptions for Holly.
The Broncos drove down inside the Fenton 30 three times in the contest, turning the ball over on downs twice on those drives and once had a pass picked off in the end zone.
“I can’t fault our effort. We played really tough. Fenton has some really nice players and they are hard to stop,” said Holly coach Ryan Culloty. “But we need to do a better job at capitalizing on (our drives). If we do that we’ll be a much better football team. We had some nice drives tonight but couldn’t put the points on the board when we had the chance, other than our (second) drive.”