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

Chelsea Conquers Milan 23-14 In First Round Of Playoffs

 

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Jacob Grubbs runs for a Chelsea touchdown in the first quarter

 

Fall weather in Chelsea seemed to turn to winter almost overnight as near freezing temperatures embraced the city as the Bulldogs played host to Milan in the first round of the MHSAA football playoffs. A hard, cold rain pelted the football stadium and a heavy, gusting wind didn’t help matters much. But the weather nor the Milan Big Red were no match for Chelsea are they battled and fought their way to a 23-14 victory.

In a rematch of the first game of the season, a 27-7 Chelsea victory at Milan, the Bulldogs got started very quickly as Jacob Grubbs took the opening kickoff 57 yards to give the Bulldogs great field position. Two plays later it was Grubbs catching a pass from Thomas Steele and busting around the outside corner to his right and diving into the end zone as he was flanked by defenders for a big 13-yard score and the early Bulldog lead.

Milan would come back though and drove meticulously down the field before running back  Hunter Aeschbacker would score from 34 yards out. The 2 point conversion try was broken up by Ronnie Buford keeping the Bulldogs up by 1 at the end of the first quarter.

The Bulldogs would drive down the field only to be stopped short of a first down and in spite of the rough weather, called on Cullen Lindsay for the field goal attempt. On a beautiful snap and a perfectly placed ball, Lindsay was able to boot the ball through the uprights for the 33-yard field goal and the 10-6 lead.

Less than two minutes later it would be Milan’s Aeschbacker breaking free for a 50-yard score and with the 2-point conversion it gave the Big Red their first lead of the night, 14-10.

With 50 seconds left before the half and the Bulldogs driving they were faced with a third down and very long situation. Thomas Steele took the snap out of the shotgun and was looking for an open receiver. He found one over the middle with Hunter Neff who dragged defenders into the end zone for a 23-yard score and a 21-14 Chelsea lead.

In the second half, Milan kept the ball on the ground and was trying to get the pressure up front against Chelsea. But time and time again the Bulldogs came up big on third down forcing punts or forcing Milan into 4th down situations which they would attempt three and all three times the Bulldogs defense came up huge making big stops and forcing the turnover on downs.

After a forced fourth down turnover on downs midway through the final stanza, the Bulldogs would drive 69 yards down the field with Thomas Steele being forced out of the pocket under heavy pressure and blazing his way juking defenders for a huge 38-yard Bulldog score and adding a bit of security for the Bulldogs. The kick would be blocked giving the Bulldogs a 23-14 lead and the defense would hold the rest of the way for the big District playoff victory.

“It’s hard to beat a team twice,” Chelsea Head Coach Brad Bush would say after the game. “They’re a good team and they had a really good game plan and they had some things go against them, they lost a couple key guys early in the game.”

The Bulldogs were led on offense by Thomas Steele with 73 yards rushing and 100 yards through the air with 2 touchdown passes and 1 scored on the ground.  Grubbs led the receivers with 4 catches and a score while Neff had 3 catches and a score.

On the defensive side of the ball, it was Buford with 8 total tackles, 1 for a loss and 1 pass broken up. Garrett Steele had 7 total tackles and a pass broken up while Gus Reynolds and Riley Lukomski each had 6 total tackles. Owen Nikischer and Dion Mite each had 5.

Chelsea will host River Rouge this Friday at 7 P.M. River Rouge won their playoff game against Flat Rock and is 8-2 on the season. This will be only the second time the teams have ever played.

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Chelsea Football, It All Starts Here

 

DSC_5842As the Chelsea varsity football team begins its playoff run, it’s good to look back and reflect on the football program where most of these players came from. Many are born and raised in Chelsea and have played in the program since middle school. All Chelsea players live in Chelsea since there is no school of choice or open recruitment. And their high school football careers all began as a freshman under Head Coach Dennis Strzyzewski.

The 2017 freshman football team is coming off its only second undefeated season in the programs rich traditional history. The only other freshman team to go undefeated were the seniors of the 2015 team which went to the state championship game. Strzyzewski has been coaching the freshman for 15 years with great results. His only coaching style is that he tries to be as honest as possible with the kids. He works to get them to demand more from themselves.

“My biggest goal is that everyone on the team always puts the team needs in front of their individual wants,” Strzyzewski stated. “We also try to make everything competitive and fun.  We are blessed to have a lot of really smart kids in Chelsea, so we are able to ask them to do some pretty complex things at a young age.”
Strzyzewski began his football career at Manistee, Michigan. When he’s not coaching on the gridiron he coaches boys and girls basketball at the middle school. He has coached basketball for 14 of his 19 years in Chelsea. He also is the Beach Middle School Guidance Counselor.
It was a spectacular season for the young Bulldogs as there were many highlights of such a great season. The very first game of the season they fell behind to Monroe 14-0 within the first 5 minutes of the games and Monroe actually scored on the first play of the game.  But the kids just kept playing, battling back, listening to assistant coaches Adam French, Jared Beaver,  and defensive line Coach Mikal Nelson and ended up winning 36-28.
“After losing big in middle school, which is expected, we didn’t know how our kids would respond to the rough start,” Strzyzewski said. “But they stepped up to the challenge.”
The last game was eerily similar.  They were down 7-0 after the first play and 14-0 four minutes into the game at Holt.  Again, the kids just kept competing.  Down 21-7 at the half, they came back to take a 28-21 lead in the third.  Again, they fell behind 37-28 with 5 minutes left.  But the kids kept believing eventually scoring with a minute left to win 38-37.
“That was probably the most fun I have had coaching a freshman game,” said Strzyzewski.
Coach Strzyzweski says “I keep getting older but the kids stay the same age.”  He explains that the freshman are fun because they are so raw when he gets them in August, but he gets to see them build confidence as they improve.  By the end of the season, they are a completely different team.  He says it is hard at times because every year, they are kind of starting over, and they need to remember that although they have done this a thousand times, it is the first time for this group of kids. The great thing is that they get to know these kids in a whole new way, and they have a ton of fun.  Every day there is something to laugh about, and he feels like he builds relationships with the kids and that is what really matters.
“People talk about the lessons we learn from football”,  Strzyzweski states.  “I think our kids learned that if you just keep playing, keep competing, things often work out.  You can win all of the time, but continuing to battle will give you a chance to be successful.  My hope is they apply this to school, jobs, and relationships.  Everything they do will have a chance to be successful as long as they just kept pushing even when it seems too difficult.”
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Chelsea Clinches Division, Playoff Spot With 14-7 Win Over Ypsilanti

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Chelsea Head Coach Brad Bush congratulates his players after their victory

It had been raining all day Friday leaving the sloped football field in Ypsilanti muddy and slippery before it welcomed its gridiron warriors to it. As the temperature dropped, a foggy mist hung over the field resulting in conservative playing between the visiting Chelsea Bulldogs and the home Grizzlies. It became a battle in the trenches between two powerhouse defenses leading to a smashmouth game of old-school football between two very evenly matched teams. But it was the Bulldogs who would prevail with a 14-7 victory securing them with a playoff spot and a Southeast Conference White Division Title.

The Grizzlies received the ball first and drove downfield and had a first and goal at the Bulldogs 5 yard line but strong defensive play kept them out of the end zone as the Bulldogs were able to stop them on fourth down and take over possession.

Chelsea then was able to move the ball through a mix of runs and short passes and drove 94 yards using good clock control and finished the drive with an Aaron McDaniels 3 yard run into the end zone giving the Bulldogs an early 7-0 lead with Cullen Lindsay’s extra point being good.

With the weather and the field conditions, both teams tried to stick to a ground game. The Bulldogs hardnosed defense forced Grizzly quarterbacks Matt Harmon and Garvin Crout out of the pocket forcing them to scramble or throw errant passes. This would be an early pattern that would continue throughout the night.

With Chelsea up 7-0 Ypsilanti finally got the break it needed as late in the third quarter, Harmon was able to connect with his receiver Jalen Allen down the right sideline for a big 39-yard score and with the extra point tied the game up at 7.

The Grizzlies kicked the ball short to prevent a big return but the Bulldogs were able to get a good return from Kyle Simmerman to set them up at their own 43-yard line. Several passes to Hunter Neff and good ground gains from Jacob Grubbs and McDaniels were able to lead the Bulldogs to the end zone as McDaniels scored again from 1 yard out and after the Lindsay extra point, it was the Bulldogs with a hard fought for 14-7 lead.

But there was still almost a whole quarter of football left and the Grizzlies were not quitters. Although they sparsely had much of a crowd behind them in their homestands, despite it being their homecoming, they still persevered. But the powerful resilient Chelsea defense would not break as they made hit after hit, tackle after tackle, and kept the heat turned up on the Grizzlies.

As the Grizzlies were driving for the tying score it was Chelsea defensive back Doug Zarinnia coming up big at the right moment with a much-needed interception to stop the drive. Chelsea would move the ball in clock control and took a knee in victory formation giving them the victory and their sixth win on the season securing them a playoff spot for the 18th team out of the last 19 years.

“That’s a good football team,” Chelsea Head Coach Brad Bush said of his tough opponent. “We played a conservative game because of not just the weather, but because of their defense. They are much better than their record shows.”

The Grizzlies drop to 3-4 on the season and have their playoff hopes doused. They’ve lost several close games on the season. They were led by Harmon who threw for 81 yards and ran for 14. Emerson Wilson led them on the ground with 89 yards while Allen had 53 yards receiving. Deon Willis led the defense with 9 tackles.

“We played through a lot of issues this week but we battled through them and put them behind us and stuck to the game plan to get the great team win,” Chelsea quarterback Thomas Steele stated. “I’m proud of our team and how we played”

Steele would finish on the night with 144 yards through the air and 20 on the ground. Chelsea’s leading rusher was McDaniels with 59 yards while Neff made several spectacular catches finishing with 5 for 115 yards.

“I’m proud of all you guys,” Head Coach Bush told his team after the game as they gathered around him. “This is a big moment, you’ll remember this night forever. You stuck to the gameplan and we had no turnovers. You played great, the defense came up big,  and I couldn’t be more proud of you all.”

The Chelsea defense has been outstanding all season only giving up 71 points so far. And they didn’t fail to disappoint as they forced several turnovers on the night. Sophomore Garret Steele led the Bulldogs with 8 tackles and 1 interception. Owen Nikischer had a huge night with 5 tackles, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss, and a fumble recovery. Dion Mite had a sack, a tackle for loss, and forced a fumble.

“This means a lot, it’s a night I’ll never forget,” said Senior Defensive End and Western Michigan University commit Ronnie Buford. “This was more than just another win, this is for all those who came before us and the entire Chelsea community. I couldn’t be happier right now.”

Buford was all over the field and seemed to be in on every play as the 6 foot 5-inch speedster finished with a huge night as he had 5 tackles, a sack, 3 tackles for loss, forced a fumble, and had a big fumble recovery for his Bulldogs.

Chelsea returns home to host Ann Arbor Huron next Friday night. It will be Chelsea’s homecoming. Kickoff is a 7 p.m.

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Chelsea Dominates Dexter 34-14

 

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Doug Zarinnia picks off a pass in the first quarter for Chelsea. He would have two on the night.

 

The Chelsea Bulldogs football team came into Dexter with 21 wins in a row against their arch rival and the Dreadnaughts were looking to snap that streak in front of a large home crowd. But on a chilly, windy night it was not meant to be as Chelsea made several big plays to dominate early and never looked back en route to a 34-14 victory.

Dexter received the kick and moved the ball downfield but the strong Bulldog defense came up big as Doug Zarinnia jumped in front of Luke Coogan’s pass as he rolled to his right and made a great diving interception at the Bulldogs 10 yard line. The Bulldogs were unable to capitalize and both teams exchanged punts in the first quarter.

On a very good drive for the Bulldogs on first and goal at the Dreadnaughts 2-yard line, they lost the ball on a fumble and Dexter recovered. On the ensuing play right after, Dexter’s running back lost the ball and it was recovered by Dion Mite.

Chelsea quarterback Thomas Steele rolled out to his right on the Bulldogs first possession after Mite’s fumble recovery and he hit Hunter Neff near the goal line. Neff momentarily lost the ball but recovered the ball in the scrum that followed.  As he was getting up a Dexter player kicked him and a personal foul was called giving the Bulldogs first and goal at the one-yard line. It was going to be a scrappy game between the bitter rivals. Then it was Steele putting his head down on the keeper and getting the Bulldog score early in the second quarter, giving Chelsea the 7-0 lead.

After a great kickoff that resulted in a touchback Dexter’s Coogan rolled out to his left and it was Zarinnia jumping the route and getting his second interception of the night. A penalty gave the Bulldogs good field position. Steele immediately took advantage of the short field and launched a perfect long pass to Neff who got down to the 1-yard line. After the 41-yard pass play, it was Aaron McDaniels blasting up the middle behind his solid offensive line to give the Bulldogs a 2 touchdown lead with plenty of game left to play.

Dexter then took the kickoff and drove 72 yards in only 5 plays as Mason Loudermilk capped the drive with a 3-yard score to cut the Bulldog lead in half.  Chelsea came right back after a big kickoff return by Jacob Grubbs set the Bulldogs up near midfield. Steele wasted no time and hit Neff over the middle on a quick slant and Neff took it all the way for a Bulldog score, putting them up 21-7 with almost 6 minutes left to play in the first half.

The Bulldog defense forced another punt and it was a short one giving the Bulldogs the ball in Dexter territory. Steele threw a quick pass deep to Neff who took the ball to the 3-yard line where McDaniels would once again finish the job giving the Bulldogs a huge 27-7 lead going into halftime.

In the second half, the Bulldogs would once again score as Jack Smith burst into the end zone. Smith would finish on the night with 27 yards on 8 carries. Dexter would score late in the game as Coogan hit Andy Duran for a touchdown. Dexter threatened again but the Bulldogs held them as they had a first and goal and couldn’t put the ball in. The Bulldogs drove down the field and had a first and goal of their own but simply let the clock run out for an excellent show of sportsmanship, giving them the 34-14 victory and 22 straight wins over Dexter.

Neff was by far Steele’s favorite receiver on the night as he finished with 8 catches for 140 yards and 1 touchdown. Steele would finish the night early as Quinn Starkey took over late in the second half but he still finished with an almost perfect 14 completions on 15 attempts for 209 yards and one touchdown while running for 74 yards on 11 carries and one score. Sophomore Kyle Knight finished with 46 yards on 7 carries. The Bulldogs offense almost doubled Dexter on time of possession.

The Bulldogs defense only gave up 89 yards on the ground and forced 4 turnovers. Patrick Bertoni led the team with 6 tackles and a forced fumble, while Evan Vaughn had 3 tackles, 1 for a loss and James Mida had 2 tackles, both for big losses.

The 0-6 Dreadnaughts host Tecumseh next week as they look for their first win while Chelsea (5-1) will travel to Ypsilanti and look to secure a playoff spot and a Conference title.

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Dozer The Pig Pigskin Picks

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Hey, everybody, it’s me, Dozer the pig!  Ok, so last week after the Chelsea loss I was so upset and bothered by it I couldn’t even eat. I had no appetite whatsoever. Worst 5 minutes of my life!

I do not like to see the Bulldogs lose ever in any sport! But it happens but I still don’t like it. The worst is when they got to the state championship game in football & they got robbed! Lousy little blind ref! Call the hold you pipsqueak zebra! I’m still fuming over that. Hey, us pigs, we never forget! Especially when it’s dinner time. Which for me is all the time.

Anyway, let’s put that stinking Lincoln loss behind us and move forward. This week we hit the road and go take on the Tecumseh Indians. They are 2-1 on the year and are playing decent football. They beat Lincoln by 1. But that doesn’t mean anything. Heck John Wilkes Booth beat Lincoln by 1 once. What, too soon?

Anywho the Redskins, I mean Injuns, I mean Scalpers, I mean Indians are looking good. They are coming off an 11-7 win over Adrian. That sounds like a baseball score against the Detroit Mud Hens, I mean Tigers pitching. But after last week’s defeat, I know Head Coach Bush was not happy. So he will get his team on the right track.

I know he wasn’t happy because I called him. Here’s what he told me: “How did you get my number? Don’t ever call here again.” And as he hung up I heard him say,” How the heck does a pig use a phone anyway?” I’m sure he wasn’t annoyed I called, it was because he was busy working on a game plan and not the fact it was 3 in the morning,

Last weeks game had some bad moments in it. Missed tackles, dropped passes, division in the ranks. Everyone pointing fingers, blaming others. Look! You win as a team, you lose as a team. You go out there and do your job and you do it right, you do it well. Don’t worry about how it looks on hudl, wrap the guy up, you bring him down.  Thomas gets you the ball, it hits your hands, you catch it, don’t worry about getting hit, that’s the game. And if you got a problem with the coaches then quit! And same goes for parents, think you can outcoach them, man up and do it! Go coach somewhere. Obviously, you can tell I was mad about all the negative things being said after the game. My barnyard isn’t that far away, I hear everything!

You’re Bulldogs! Time to regroup. The season is already a third of the way done but there’s plenty of football left to play. We can still win the Conference. And go all the way. You all need to believe and achieve. Be a team. There’s no i in team unless you spell it wrong like stupid Spike the pig from Dexter would!

So I’ll be watching the game with my goat buddies Chester, Salina, and Chelsea. We have a very hi-tech entertainment system in the barn. We may be animals but we have style. Oh, no horses allowed. I can’t stand horses!

I got the Bulldogs bouncing back this week and stepping up all areas of the game and winning big. Go Bulldogs! Now I have to go, my human family just got Thompson’s pizza and I’m about to take advantage of that. I hope there’s no pork on it this time!

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

Chelsea Sophomore Garrett Steele Showing He Can Run With The Pack

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Chelsea’s Garrett Steele brings down a Lincoln player for a loss 

Most high school football teams try to play all seniors if they can, because of their experience. But many high school coaches realize that skill and passion for the game can come before age and seniority. And Chelsea’s varsity football teams sophomore safety Garrett Steele has both of those attributes and more.

While it’s not rare for a sophomore to play on the Bulldogs, it’s not common either. And Steele just doesn’t play here or there or in “mop up” duty, he starts in the defensive backfield.

“Coach Bush and I had conversations about me playing varsity but there was not a specific date,” the 15-year-old stated referring to Chelsea Head Coach Brad Bush. “It’s a great honor being in this situation and everyone is very supportive of one another.”

Steele has been playing football since he was in 7th grade and it shows as the 6 foot 175-pound safety shows a skill set far beyond his age. He can read receiver sets and is able to shed blocks and picks to pick up and lock down his man. He has shown flashes of brilliance in coverage and is a hard hitter and has made several big stops for the Bulldogs so far this season. He is third on his team in tackles with 17 in 3 games including 1 tackle for a loss and one pass broken up.

Garrett shares the backfield with his cousin Braden who is a senior. His brother Thomas, who is also a senior, is the Bulldog quarterback.

“Getting to play on a team with my brother and cousin is an unbelievable experience that I will never get again,” Garrett said.  “I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to play my first varsity season with.”

Garrett loves football but he also plays baseball but his major sports passion is hockey. He currently plays AAA travel hockey for the Oakland Jr Grizzlies.

“I love hockey so much and I’d really like to thank Coach Bush for being so supportive of me playing hockey and football at the same time this season, ” Garrett stated.

Being the youngest on a team with players mostly 2 or 3 years older than you could cause much division in most football locker rooms but Chelsea isn’t like that. All the players get along really well and everyone has been very supportive of Garrett and he feels no extra pressure on him because of his age or grade.

“Whether you’re a senior, a junior,  or a sophomore playing on varsity has a lot of pressure but that’s why we play the game,” said Garrett.

Garrett thanks his family for all their support (Mother Gretchen, Father Tucker, brother Caden, sister Savannah)  but most importantly his quarterback brother Thomas for all the support and leadership he has shown him all summer and for the start of this season.

The Bulldogs are a third of the way through the season and stand at 2 wins and 1 loss overall and travel to Tecumseh Friday to take on the Indians.

“I feel we are starting to figure things out defensively and offensively and once we do we will be a team others won’t want to play,” Garrett asserts.

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Dozer’s Pigskin Picks

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We are pleased to announce a new weekly feature on our website. It is called Dozer’s Pigskin Picks. Who is Dozer you ask? Well, Dozer is a pig. Not just any pig but the worlds smartest pig. And he can talk!

Dozer lives in Chelsea and he is a proud Bulldog and loves the Chelsea community. And he really loves Chelsea sports. Especially football. He has very strong ties to Chelsea football going back several generations as his great, great, great, grandpa took part in Chelsea High Schools very first game. As the original Chelsea pigskin.

“I’m very proud of that,” Dozer snorted. “A rich tradition was born that day and I’m glad my family was a part of it.”

Dozer knows sports. And loves Chelsea football almost as much as he does eating. And Dozer understands the rivalries too, as he cannot stand Dexter!

“The other pig that lives in my barnyard went to Dexter,” Dozer growls. “his name is Spike and he’s dumb as a brick and nobody likes him. Hmmph, Dexter!”

So without further ado here’s Dozer for his prediction and thoughts on the upcoming home game this Friday against Ypsilanti Lincoln.

“Hey everybody I’m Dozer the pig and I want to talk Chelsea Bulldog football. I just found out Chelsea won the voting so we will be the Mlive game of the week in our area. That’s cool, that’s cool. I voted quite a bit. I hope you all did too. So this weeks game is against Lincoln. Lincoln, what has he done since he freed the slaves.

What? Oh, my bad, I’ve been informed that it’s not Abe Lincoln, who is dead, but Lincoln High out of Ypsilanti. Pshh, Railsplitters. I bet they don’t even really have a clue where that name came from. Anywho Lincoln has given up an average of 32 points a game in their 2 losses this year. But they’ve racked up an average of 27 points per game in those losses. But they haven’t faced a defense like Chelsea’s.

Those boys up front are big! I haven’t seen that much beef since I visited my friends in the cattle barn at the fair. Oh, the Chelsea fair. Cotton candy, caramel corn, everything on a stick, everything deep fried, mmmmmmmm!

What? Oh whoops got sidetracked there for a minute. Chelsea is strong up front and has a lot of depth. They shut down a very good Pinckney team last week only giving up one touchdown on their first drive. My homey Ronnie Buford had 3 sacks, 8 tackles, and 2 of them for loss. Braden Steele, Garrett Steele, Doug Zarinnia, and Patrick Bertoni did great in the defensive backfield. And Owen Nikischer has been a beast at Middle linebacker. Owens crazy. He’ll hold the door open for a little old lady then smash it on some Dreadnaught kid. Heh Heh, I love that Owen!

The defense will have to be strong as they face the speedy senior quarterback Cam Thompson who is a dual threat.  He can run and throw and is their most explosive weapon. Other big players on their team are running back Derrick Thomason and wide receiver Matthew Moorer. Moorer, a 2017 track and field state champion in the 400-meter dash, will be an explosive threat for Thompson in the passing game. Chelsea is going to have to be aware of him at all times and lock him down. They also can’t let Thompson get loose and have to lock him up fast and make him throw bad passes with lots of pressure.

The Chelsea offense struggled a bit last week but Head Coach Brad Bush is going to fix that. I know he worked with those kids all week because there’s way too much talent on that team to not rack up a lot of points. They’re big up front & they got speed.

I have to say, this is going to be a very exciting game but I’m all in for the Bulldogs! Go dawgs!!!! I’ll be watching it online while pigging out on pizza. Yeah pigging out is an offensive term but not for me, we pigs can say it!

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