BY DAN STICKRADT
PONTIAC — With each passing quarter, Rochester Stoney Creek is a football team that is gaining confidence and playing with a new-found swagger.
After combining for a 3-15 record the past two years, including 1-8 last season where the Cougars finished on an eight-game skid, Stoney Creek is now on a new course.
The Cougars’ latest win in what could potentially become a major turnaround campaign was an impressive 34-0 shutout of host Pontiac Friday in the OAA Red Division opener for both teams at Wisner Memorial Stadium.
The Cougars have now outscored the opposition 89-7 this season — the best start for the program in terms of most point scored and fewest allowed after two weeks. The Cougars only scored 78 points all of last season.
Junior Joe Cox led a balanced offensive effort with141 yards on 16 carries. Classmate Sean Scullen followed with 70 yards on eight carries and two touchdowns and Stephen Grgurich chipped in with eight touches for 50 yards for Stoney Creek, which chalked up 343 rushing yards on the night.
Justin Allor was also 4-for-7 passing for 52 yards and a touchdown pass. Sam Clayman finished with nine tackles and Peter Price recorded two sacks and six tackles for Stoney Creek (2-0, 1-0), which posted just four winning seasons during the its first decade of existence.
The Cougars have also opened the 2012 season with back-to-back wins, just the third time in school history that type of start has been recorded.
Brad Zube coached at Pontiac for the last three seasons, leading the Phoenix to a pair of postseason appearances. He hopes to do a similar turnaround job at Stoney Creek, where he took over the reigns in Feburary.
“The one thing I can say about this group is that have put in the time since the day I got here,” noted Zube. “They have worked so hard and bought in to what we are teaching them.
“I think we are starting to get better and we are gaining some confidence,” added Zube. “But we know that it gets tougher from here on out. We have Troy next week and then games against Lake Orion and Clarkston. We have our work cut out for us.”
Stoney Creek cashed in on its third drive of the game. After forcing the Phoenix to turn the ball over on downs, the Cougars put together a slow, nine-play, 77-yard drive which ended with 11:53 to play in the second quarter.
Allor found a wide-open Alex Schnurr in the end zone from 15 yards out.
That was all the points Stoney Creek would need, although the Cougars piled on the points from that point on before calling off the reigns in the fourth quarter.
“We’ve got some good football players on this team,” smiled Zube. “We’ve got some guys nobody’s heard of — and now they’re learning some names.”
Stoney Creek made it 9-0 when Dane Hathaway blocked a Pontiac punt into the back of the end zone for a safety with 9:31 left in the half. The Cougars recorded yet another safety with 6:03 left in the second quarter when the Phoenix snapped a punt attempt out of the back of the end zone, which moved the lead to an odd 11-0.
Putting together another nine-play drive, the Cougars tacked on an additional seven points before the half when Allor scored on a 2-yard quarterback keeper.
Scullen scored on runs of 6 and 25 yards in the third quarter, Schnurr hit two extra points, and Allor hit both Grugurich and Scullen on two-point conversion passes for the other Stoney Creek points.
Pontiac (0-2, 0-1) was more in tune with the Bad News Bears than a team hoping to make a return trip to the postseason. The Phoenix committed 10 penalties, surrendered two safeties in the second quarter and coughed up the football two other times in the contest, one on an interception and the other on a fumble.
First-year Pontiac coach Damion Redmond was impressed Stoney Creek and the way it capitalized on the countless Phoenix miscues.
“They are very balanced and they do a great of executing,” he said. “They made some nice plays and capitalized on us.
“We’re a young football team but I believe we can be a good football team,” added Redmond. “We just need to start executing and not have all of the penalties and turnovers. Twice in the first half we got down inside their 30 and we couldn’t do anything with it. We scored a touchdown and it was called back on an offensive interference call. We shot ourselves in the foot a few times.”
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