KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — The East Kentwood football team wasn’t in the sharing mood Friday night.
The Falcons won their first outright O-K Red Conference championship since 2002 with a 28-17 home win over Rockford. East Kentwood (8-1) went a perfect 6-0 in conference play and denied visiting Rockford a chance for a share of the crown.
The Rams finished 5-4 and must wait till Sunday to see if they’re able to secure a playoff berth.
“It feels great,” said Falcons senior Kionte Blakely, who scored a pair of first-half touchdowns on runs of 8 and 45 yards.
“I’ve been on the varsity for three years and that’s always been a goal for us to win the O-K Red championship,” Blakely said. “The first two years we came up short so it feels great to be OK Red champs, especially not sharing it with anybody and being solo champs.
“We knew Rockford was going to come in with the mentality to knock us off to get a share, but we knew we could get the job done.”
East Kentwood scored less than two minutes into the game, but Rockford answered with a 47-yard touchdown pass from Chris Corey to Eli Haddad.
Blakely’s long scamper for a score in the second quarter put the Falcons ahead 14-7 at halftime.
The Falcons squandered a pair of first-half scoring chances inside Rockford’s 10-yard line with an interception and fumble.
“That was the first time we’ve had that early in the game and both were bad calls by me,” East Kentwood coach Tony Kimbrough said. “I learned a lesson, and I’m always learning as well, but we overcame them. We didn’t get down, and we just continued to make plays.”
A field goal from Rockford trimmed the deficit to 14-10 in the third, but it was as close as the Rams would get.
East Kentwood put the game away with back-to-back touchdowns from junior Joshua Ledesma in the fourth quarter.
Ledesma and Jayden Jones took over in the backfield after Blakely was forced out of the game with an injury.
“It’s all about those kids over there,” Kimbrough said. “It started in the summer when these kids worked their butts off and we continued to improve each week. A good Rockford team came to play tonight, but our kids refused to lose.
“All 18 of our seniors have led us all year and we wanted to finish it for our seniors on senior night.”
East Kentwood has reeled off eight straight wins since a season-opening loss to Mona Shores.
Blakely said that defeat was an early turning point in the season.
“We took a big loss that we weren’t expecting, and that’s what humbled us early,” he said. “We didn’t want to lose again after that and we just stayed focused at practice and trusted our coaches.”