***Article by Josh Longstreth
The Zeeland West Dux have gained their mojo back. They were able to capture a district title last week as their offense led the way by knocking off Coopersville, 46-32. A team that will typically run the ball at will, Zeeland West has now relied a little more on the pass game to fit into that mold. This week would be a new test for the Dux facing a Parma Western team that has been rolling on both sides of the ball for much of the year. The Panthers came into this one at 10-1 on the season and after making their way through the opening rounds of the playoffs quite impressively, this one lined up to be an absolute battle on a beautiful Saturday afternoon of football.
West would strike first midway through the opening quarter when shifty running back , Rolando Robelin , made his way into the endzone from 7-yards out. This gave the Dux an 8-0 lead after a successful two-point try. The West defense came to play in this one as well as they really limited the Western offense for much of the first quarter. Zeeland West would feel real good about things heading into the second clinging to that lead.
The Dux would get things rolling again on offense late in the first and they would pay it off in a big way just seconds into the second quarter. Trey Sloothaak would get loose from 9-yards out to put more points on the board. The two-point attempt would fail but it would give West a 14-0 advantage to that point. Midway through the quarter West would really open things up. In just their first play of the drive, Keaton Hendrick would find nothing but daylight and scamper in all the way from 62-yards out. It would be all Dux to that point as they held a 20-0 lead late in the quarter. The Panthers would settle in a bit on offense on the following drive as they put together a 10 play scoring drive going 80 yards to put up their first points of the game. An Alex Trudell 4-yard run would cut the lead to 20-7. Feeling a bit of the momentum turning the tide, West wouldn’t let it last long. With just ten seconds remaining in the quarter, the Dux took all of it right back. Trent Bolhouse would dive in from 1-yard away. All West after one half, 26-7.
Defensively, West would continue to limit drives for the Panthers as they wouldn’t let the Western offense get into a flow. West would take complete control of the game when Sloothaak reeled in a 26-yard strike from Bolhouse in a drive that took just under five minutes off the clock. The Dux could feel it at that point holding a 34-7 advantage. They weren’t done in the quarter. Robelin would strike again for his second score of the night on a 10-yard run just a couple minutes later on a quick two play drive from West.
Holding a 42-7 lead in the fourth, it was then time to take the air out of the ball for the Dux. The defense continued to dominant a usual potent Western offense that just couldn’t find their way in this one. It was left with nothing but ground and pound from the Dux in the final quarter. Zeeland West goes on to put an absolute clinic on as they roll to a Regional Title by knocking off Parma Western.
Not much would go right for the Panthers on the night. The offense and the defense could never really get in tune. Offensively, the Panthers racked up nearly 38.5 points per game on the year. The Dux would hold them to their lowest output of the season. A defense that has been beyond impressive this season, they wouldn’t be able to stop the attack of West. Western put together a big season for their program by winning 10 games for the first time since 2018. They’ll lose Alex Trudell, Mitch Williams, Caleb Jones, Ben Parrott, Gibson French, Owen St. Andre, and James Messer. They will have some key returnees in 2024, however, in Noah Berdiner, Brody Videto, Cody Tripp, Reed Myers, and Maverick Hammond.
The Zeeland West offense had it clicking again today, specifically on the ground. They racked up 330 rushing yards on the day led by Keaton Hendrick who finished with 11 carries, 159 yards, and 1 rushing touchdown. Trey Sloothaak added 15 carries for 77 yards and 1 touchdown on the ground. He got it got it done as a receiver to boot with 3 catches for 60 yards and 1 touchdown. Rolando Robelin was big with 53 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. The Dux offense dominated the time of possession game 32:20 to 15:40.
Not many have been able to do a lot against the dominant West defense for much of the year and today was no different. They held Western to just 140 yards of total offense on the day. Keaton Hendrick added to his day by picking off a Panthers pass. The Dux were able to grab a fumble recovery from the Western offense as well.
Zeeland West will now move on to the semi-finals as they will take on Forest Hills Central. The Rangers are coming off a 33-7 win over Gaylord on Friday night. Central sits at 11-1 on the year with their lone loss coming by just one point to Byron Center. They have now won seven games in a row in dominant fashion. These two will square off next Saturday in what should be a tight battle throughout.