The Zeeland East Chix and Zeeland West Dux are two of the area’s most successful programs since they split in 2005. The Chix have made seven playoff appearances (not including this year), and the Dux have four Division 4 State Championships to their name. All of this success makes the annual Battle for Zeeland one of the premier games in the area. This year’s edition did not disappoint, as the Chix won a close one by the score of 48-34.
Zeeland West started off the scoring in this one early in the first quarter when Ross Bollman punched it in from a yard out to give the Dux an early 6-0 lead. They would expand their lead when Carson Gulker connected with Mason Baker on a 30-yard pass. The successful two-point try gave the Dux a 14-0 lead. Zeeland East would inch their way closer near the end of the quarter when Gabe Taylor found Collin Ardensen for a 24-yard touchdown pass to pull Zeeland East within a 14-6 score.
Just thirty-two seconds into the second quarter, Gulker’s second touchdown, this one a 45-yard run, put the Dux ahead by a score of 20-6. Six minutes later, Josh Fusco’s one-yard run put Zeeland East back within a touchdown, down just 20-14. This lead extended back to fourteen points when Gulker found the end zone for the third time, this time a one-yard run. With thirty-seconds left in the half, Zeeland East got a key score as Taylor and Ardensen connected again for a 60-yard touchdown pass. This left the halftime score with an eight point edge for Zeeland West.
The third quarter was all Chix, as they scored the only two touchdowns in the twelve minute frame. Taylor went to the air for a third time as he found Tommy Zegunis on a 48-yard touchdown pass. The ensuing two-point conversion tied the game at 28. With 2:22 left in the third, Taylor kept the ball and rushed it in from a yard out to give Zeeland East its first lead of the night, ahead 34-28.
Three touchdowns were scored in the fourth quarter, two by Zeeland East. Josh Fusco needed just thirty-seven seconds of the final quarter to rush 26 yards to the end zone to extend the Chix lead. This lead would go back to a mere eight points when Zeeland West got a five-yard touchdown run by Gulker, his fourth score of the evening. Zeeland East eventually would pad their lead with 55 seconds remaining as Gabe Taylor broke a run of 53 yards to put the Chix ahead 48-34, the eventual final in this one.
With the win, Zeeland East improves to 7-1 on the season, and they clinch a share of the OK Green title. Next week, they look to win it outright as they take on Unity Christian. For Zeeland West, they have already clinched a playoff spot with their 6-2 record. They look to regain some momentum, and potentially play for an OK Green title with some help, as they take on the Hawkeyes of Hamilton.