As a seventh grader, Brandon Sowards sat in the bleachers and watched his older brothers Todd and AJ both play for Wyandotte Roosevelt. On Nov. 15, 2008, he saw the pair walk off the field dejected after a 24-21 loss at Southfield in the regional final game that season.
When it was his turn this year, the junior receiver helped launch the 2012 Bears (11-1) one step further, catching a late fourth-quarter touchdown pass Friday night in a 10-6 victory at home against Oak Park.
“I watched them both lose in the regionals to Southfield, so I was determined not to lose,” Sowards said.
Roosevelt’s victory against the Knights (9-3) gives the team its first regional title under head coach Ron Adams, who took over in 2004. It also sends the Bears to the state semifinals, where they will take on defending Division 2 state champion Birmingham Brother Rice at a neutral site. The winner of the game will play at Ford Field the following week for the state title.
- Read Patch's live blog from the game.
Early on it looked as if the Bears may have a tough time stopping the Oak Park offense, which jumped out a to a 6-0 lead midway through first quarter, following a 72-yard scoring drive and missed extra point.
The tenacious Bears defense toughed up, however, and kept the Knights off the board after that, even with them knocking on the door inside the redzone multiple times.
Wyandotte scored its first points with about four minutes left in the half, as kicker Jacob Simpson nailed a 33-yard field goal. His kick was set up by a big first-down run from Aaron Robinson and a 14-yard catch by Sowards.
Both teams were scoreless in the third quarter, but Oak Park started the fourth quarter on Roosevelt's 5-yard line. The Bears proceeded to drop the Knights for two consecutive losses, and then forced two incomplete passes, resulting in a turnover on downs.
About midway through the quarter, Wyandotte prepared to stop Oak Park again, which was still up 6-3. The Knights proceeded to put the ball on the turf and Roosevelt defensive lineman Hunter Schmittou jumped on in it to recover the fumble.
Following the turnover, the Bears burned more than five minutes off the clock. With 1:37 left in the game, quarterback Kevin Matejko hit Sowards in the end zone with a 31-yard touchdown pass, giving Wyandotte a 10-6 lead, following Simpson’s extra point.
With time running out, the Knights quickly traveled 71 yards to the 6-yard line of the Bears. Once there, however, they failed to cash in, turning the ball over on downs one last time, as the Bears then ran out the clock and celebrated a regional title victory.
From the beginning of the year, Adams said, the entire Wyandotte team, both players and coaches, have remained confident that the Bears could be successful in the playoffs and could ultimately earn a trip to Ford Field.
“We’ve always talked about winning state championships; we expected to here,” he said. “If you don’t establish goals (and) you don’t set goals, you’re not going to achieve them. I’m extremely proud of our players for stepping it up and getting it done.”
Sowards led all receivers with two catches for 45 yards and a touchdown. Kyle Matejko was the leading running back, carrying the ball 11 times for 48 yards. Quarterback Kevin Matejko completed six passes for 63 yards and one touchdown.
A Look Ahead
Next week’s game against Brother Rice will be played Saturday at a neutral site that has yet to be announced. The Warriors (10-2) crushed Walled Lake Western Friday night by a score of 42-12.