FOOTBALL: Playoff Opener Pits Monroe Ground Game Against Saline Air Raid

 10/30/2015 - 02:16

Zach Schwartzemberger dives into the end zone for a touchdown reception in Saline's 28-0 win over Monroe.

The Saline football team kicks off what it hopes will be a long post-season at 7 p.m., Friday at Hornet Stadium. Saline (8-0) hosts Monroe (5-4).

When Saline defeated Monroe 28-0 Oct. 9 to clinch the SEC Red championship, it also appeared the Trojans’ playoff hopes were dashed. But coach Eric Redmond (35-23) and his team rallied to beat Adrian, 46-20, and Dearborn Fordson, 28-14, to finish with a 5-4 record and squeak into the post-season tournament.

For the Hornets, it’s seems like forever ago since they last played. Coach Joe Palka’s (39-6) Hornets haven’t played since they beat Ypsilanti, 48-18, on Oct. 16.

Saline owns a 5-3 record against Monroe and the Trojans haven’t defeated Saline since 2011, the year before the Palka era began. The two teams have met once in the playoffs, with Saline defeating Monroe 28-22 last year in one of the toughest games of the year.

Saline didn’t have much difficultly beating Monroe 28-0 this season. Monroe’s running game couldn’t generate touchdowns, but it did move the chains enough (12 first downs) to keep Saline’s explosive offense off the field for much of the game. Monroe rushed 57 times for 235 yards. Conversely, Saline ran just 34 plays, passing and rushing, and it gained 346 yards.`

Josh Jackson threw touchdown passes to Bryce Wolma, Jeb Palka and Zach Schwartzenberger and Stevie Kise returned a punt return 68 yards for a touchdown to account for Saline’s scoring. The Hornets’ 28 points were a season low.

Unless the Trojans drastically stray from their normal playbook, don’t expect much passing from QB Travis Kellems. Leading rusher Carson Clark (153 carries, 1317 yards, 13 TDs) has more carries than all of the Hornet running backs combined. In fact, Saline’s leading rusher Connor Hibbard (54 carries, 515 yards, 9 TDs) would rank fifth on Monroe in both carries and yards (but second in touchdowns).

The Hornets obviously make up for this in the air, where Josh Jackson (109/163, 1382 yards, 18 TDs) completed four times as many passes for more than four times as many yards and touchdowns as his counterpart Travis Kellems (25/52 408 yards, 4 TDs), whose season stat line looks like a good game for Jackson. And Jeb Palka (55 catches, 616 yards, 8 TDs)  is among four Hornets with at least twice as many catches as leading Monroe receiver Craig Couturier (9 catches, 194 yards, 3 TDs).

The winner of this game plays the winner of the Pioneer-Belleville game for the district championship.


Passing Comp Att  Yards TDs
Travis Kellems 25 52 408 4
Josh Jackson 109 163 1382 18


Rushing Carries Yards TDs
Carson Clark 153 1317 13
Travis Kellems 90 607 7
Marlon Martin 65 525 4
Jovan Johnson 84 522 5
Connor Hibbard 54 515 9
Jeb Palka 23 214 2
Josh Jackson 73 344 6
Ethan Deland 24 86 1
Zach Schwartzenberger 23 39 2


Receiving Catches  Yards TDs
Craig Couturier 9 194 3
Jeb Palka 55 616 8
Mike Monahan 16 141 0
Stevie Kise 14 273 3
Bryce Wolma 17 295 5


Defense Tackles Sacks INTs FF FR
Jalen Wilkerson 80        
Craig Couturier 55        
Kevin Couturier 53        
John Raupp 47.5 5   1 2
Cal Livesay 44   1   2
Zachary Owings 37.5   2   1
CJ Gildersleeve 38.5 3     1
Alec Richards 22.5        
Sean O'Keefe 16.5 1      



Tran Longmoore
Tran Longmoore founded The Saline Post on Aug. 15, 2012. Follow him on Twitter at @tranlongmoore. Follow The Saline Post @thesalinepost. Follow The Saline Post on Facebook by clicking here.