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Chelsea Loses Heartbreaker In Regional Finals In Overtime 42-40

 

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Chelsea’s Cam Cooper beats his defender and makes a big catch for a Bulldog first down

 

With a chill in the air and in front of a packed home crowd, Chelsea was playing in it’s third Regional Final in a row, this year facing off against the undefeated 11-0 Edwardsburg Eddies in a battle of unbeaten teams. The Eddies came into the game ranked as the number 2 team in the state playing a power wing t offense and featuring a defense that had 5 shutouts and was only averaging giving up less than 6 points a game. The most points they had given up all year was 20 in their divisional final game.

But they had never played a Chelsea team like this. It was their first and only challenge of the season. They had two score leads twice in the game but the resilient Bulldogs never gave up and kept fighting back forcing the game into overtime. But the Bulldogs came up just inches short and fell 42-40 in overtime bringing an end to their outstanding season, finishing the year 11-1.

The Eddies struck first with their ball control offense taking almost half of the first quarter to score. It became apparent on the ensuing kickoff that they wanted to keep the ball out of the Bulldogs Cam Cooper’s hands as they short kicked it away from him. They didn’t realize though that Chelsea is full of weapons as Aaron McDaniel’s fielded the ball for a nice return setting the Bulldogs up with good field position. The Bulldogs moved the ball downfield rather easily with a mix of short passes and runs before quarterback Jack Bush hit Bryce Jubenville in the left side of the end zone for a 5-yard score.

In the second quarter though it was all Edwardsburg as they drove downfield twice to take a big 22-7 lead.

With only a minute to go in the half after another short kick off, Bush and his boys went into action. With a few good runs by Gus Reynolds and with only 22 seconds left Bush completed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Steele who had a defender all over him but he managed to rip the ball from him and hold on for the score. The two-point conversion was no good and Chelsea went into the halftime down 22-13.

The Eddies would receive the ball first in the second half and drove 78 yards to build a bigger gap between the two teams. But the Bulldogs came right back and in less than two minutes later it was Bush hitting Steele over the middle where he would sprint into the end zone for a 28-yard score. With a Chris Roush extra point, it brought the Bulldogs within 8 with plenty of time left in the game.

After a big fourth down stop made by the Chelsea defense, it only took one exciting play to get the Bulldogs even closer in the score as Bush hit the outstanding Cooper for a short pass. Cooper out ran and out dodged every defender juking by everyone for a 58-yard touchdown bringing the Bulldogs within two points. The Eddies were reeling, not being used to a team that played so well against them, not being used to a team that scored this many points, and was holding them well below their season average of 45 points scored per game.

The Eddies would score again but the defense would stop them on the two point conversion keeping the Bulldogs with good chances as they were only down by 8.

Time would be a big factor as the Bulldogs took over late in the fourth quarter. With just over 2 minutes to drive over 60 yards for the tying score, the Bulldogs buckled down and went to work. They knew time was running out on their spectacular season and they didn’t want it to end in any way. Bush was perfect on the final drive as he hit Cooper over the middle on a big pass play and then another one to Hunter Neff. A few mix of great runs by Steele & Reynolds had the Bulldogs close to the end zone. With one minute and 28 seconds left to go, Bush took the snap from his center Connor Christian and rolled right looking to the end zone. With no receiver open and under heavy pressure, Bush was able to use his strength to avoid tacklers and took off running for the blue and gold endzone. He ran down the field on the right side and powered his way to the end zone bringing the Bulldogs within 2 points of tying the game.

As the Bulldog faithful let out a raucous roar of joy, the Bulldogs lined up for the critical two-point conversion. The first try was broken up but a defender was hanging all over the receiver Steele and was called for pass interference, giving the Bulldogs an even closer attempt. Whenever Chelsea needs a couple extra yards on a big play it’s Bush who puts his head down on the quarterback keeper and he’s never failed. And this time was no different as he plowed his way into the end zone tying the game up at 34.

After another great Roush kickoff and a great defensive stand, it was clear the Eddies would play for overtime as they had only thrown the ball 3 times in the game and were unsure of their passing game against the Bulldogs defensive backfield.

Chelsea won the coin toss and deferred to play defense. The Eddies scored and converted the two-point conversion. Now it was the Bulldogs turn.

Bush hit Jubenville on the right side as he made a spectacular diving catch at the edge of the end zone but held onto the ball. But the two-point conversion came up just inches short for the Bulldogs ending their great season in an exciting yet dismal fashion.

As Chelsea Head Coach Brad Bush gathered his team as he does after every game, he told them “how proud he was of them”.

“This was a great football team,” Bush stated. “They made one more play than we did. But you competed like a champion and did everything right. Every guy here should feel good, we did everything good and everything right. When you walk off that field you all know you gave everything you have. I couldn’t be prouder of you”

To the 26 seniors, who in three years are the winningest team in Chelsea football history he said a very heartfelt “thank you”.

Chelsea was led by Bush who was 18 for 28 with a whopping 234 yards and 5 touchdown passes. Reynolds had 78 yards on the ground on 12 carries while Cooper had 7 receptions for 109 yards and Steele finished with 75 yards on only 4 catches.

The Bulldog defense was led by Patrick Bertoni and Drew Anstead who both finished with 13 total tackles, while Cole Septer had 8, Cal Barrett had 7, and Ronnie Buford, Owen Nikischer, and Chris Roush each had 6 total tackles. Barrett also had a fumble recovery. Travis Frazier got a sack giving him a team leading 10 1/2 on the season. Anstead finished the season with the team lead in total tackles with 61.

Chelsea finished the year at 11-1 and will be bringing back 41 underclassmen next year.

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bulldogs, chelsea, chelsea high school, defense, football, high school, high school football, mhsaa, mhsaa championship football, sports, Uncategorized

Chelsea Football Hoping For District Title Threepeat

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His number may have changed this year (54) but Chelsea’s Cash Shegan still hits hard and makes plays. Here he is in the 2015 Semi Final game against Coldwater. 

It’s a rematch of last year’s Division 3 semifinal game, which the Chelsea Bulldogs defeated the Coldwater Cardinals 35-7, as the Cardinals (8-2) fly into Chelsea (10-0) no doubt seeking a bit of vengeance for last year’s big defeat. The victory sent Chelsea to the state finals at Ford Field in Detroit while the loss sent the Cardinals home. Things will be quite a bit different between the two teams, though.

The first major difference will be the weather. Unlike last year’s game, which had to be delayed a day because of one of the worst blizzards in years, this year’s playoff game will be played in what the weatherman predicts to be sunny and about 50 degrees for kick off. Last year’s game was played in Jackson while this year the Bulldogs will have the home field advantage in front of a very large, supportive, and raucous crowd.

Coldwater returns 20 seniors from last year’s team, many who played in that semi-final game. The Cardinals have a big power run offense led by Sam DeMeester who also plays on defense. They have a solid offensive line and  a very good quarterback. On defense for the 2016 season, they have not allowed more than 22 points in any game this season and have allowed under 20 in all but two games.

But Chelsea has it’s own strong defense especially up front along the d-line anchored by the twin towers of Travis Frazier & Ronnie Buford. Frazier at 6’7″ and Buford (6’5″) are both able to get their hands up to block passes and use their quickness to make big plays. Frazier leads the team in sacks with 9 and a half and 17 tackles for loss this season in limited playing team because usually, the Bulldogs would have big leads. Buford, in only three games this season, has 3 sacks and 5 tackles for loss.

“This game means a lot to me,” said Travis Frazier. “Last year I was playing for Jackson Lumen Christi and Coldwater beat us in the playoffs.So I want this bad, not just for me but for Chelsea.”

Also up front for the Bulldogs is the duo of Cash Shegan & Kyle Bell, who are known as shake and bake. Shegan saw a lot of playing time in last year’s playoffs and has a lot of experience. Bell has peaked at the right time playing some of his best football ever, as was apparent in the Bulldog’s 37-7 over Vicksburg in last week’s first-round playoff game. He was all over the field making plays and big hits.

Also peaking at the right time is Chris Roush who is right near the top of leading the team in tackles along with hard hitting Cole Septer, Drew Anstead, and Cal Barrett. The defensive backs are led by Lawrence Buckley and the eagle-eyed Patrick Bertoni who leads the team in interceptions.

The Bulldogs defense has only allowed 121 points all season with a majority of those coming in the fourth quarter when the game was out of reach. In their first playoff game, the defense gave up minus 26 rushing yards on 29 carries against Vicksburg.

“Our defense has been really well as of late and we’ve been doing a great job of stopping the run and I believe we are hitting our peak right now on the d-line,” Said Frazier. “We know this is going to be a battle but we will bring our A game no matter what.”

On the offensive side of the ball, the Bulldogs are led by quarterback Jack Bush, who helped lead his team to the state championship last year. Bush excelled in the semi-final game between these two teams last year.Bush has had an outstanding all-conference season this year throwing for over  1,300 yards and 13 touchdowns through the air while getting  7 scores on the ground, all mainly in the first half of games. Bush can beat you with his arm and legs and has a great field presence and awareness.

Helping Bush out in the backfield is running back Gus Reynolds who is closing in on 900 yards this season and has 17 scores and a 7 yard per carry average. Opening the holes for Reynolds and protecting Bush is a big, solid offensive line anchored by Preston Ewald, Connor Christian, Andrew Klink, Patrick Conlin III, and many other valuable players that can rotate in and out of the game.

The Bulldogs have an arsenal of weapons for Bush to get the ball to with receivers Bryce Jubenville, Thomas Steele, Chris Roush, and his big tight end Alex Vasquez. Then there is the multi-purpose player Cam Cooper who fields punts and kick returns, plays receiver, running back, and will shut down another teams receiver as a defensive back. Cooper leads all Bulldog receivers with 500 yards  and has 9 touchdowns this season.

The Bulldogs know this is going to be a big battle and the key is to get out to an early lead. There also has to be discipline and try to play mistake-free football. It’s going to be a big fight between two really great teams but only one can be the victor and move on in the playoffs and Chelsea is looking to be the one and get that district title trifecta.

 

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