Photo courtesy of Miles Postema. Check out pictures of the game here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/96875625@N08/albums/72157665851853339
Each fall, the MHSAA Playoffs provide a platform for some of the best stories in the state to take center stage. One of the best in 2017 has to be the work of the West Ottawa Panthers to turn things around. After fielding two straight 2-7 teams, the Panthers surprised many by winning eight games and being crowned undisputed champions of the OK Red. Their remarkable journey took another step on Friday night as they defeated Rockford for the second time this season to win their first ever district championship.
Isaac Van Dyke started the scoring for West Ottawa as he kept it for a one-yard score. Rockford responded with a touchdown throw from Jason Whittaker, but from there the Panthers took over. After scoring twenty in a row, the game appeared to be over early as West Ottawa held a commanding lead late in the third quarter, but everyone should have known better than to count out Ralph Munger’s bunch.
Whittaker rallied the troops and led two touchdown drives to cut the lead to six points. Thankfully for Coach Ryan Oshnock, the combination of Isaac Van Dyke and Xavier Wade connected for a twenty-nine yard touchdown, just like so many times this season in key moments, and that score would seal the Rams’ fate. They would tack on another score, but it was too little too late.
With the win, West Ottawa will advance to next weekend’s Regional Finals. They will take on either Davison or Clarkston, who are set to face off on Saturday night at 7.