The athletic communities of Novi & Northville are intertwined together like spaghetti due to a meandering school district line that was apparently drawn up before the invention of straight-edge rulers. Indeed the lines of friendship between these 2 teams are numerous, but for 2 hours on Sunday all fellowship lines were terminated as the Novi Bobcats & Northville Colts squared off in the annual battle of Noville.
The Colts won the toss and chose to defer possession to the Bobcats for the first half. Novi started their first drive from the 38-yard line and quickly demonstrated they came to play. Strong, purposeful runs off the QB keeper helped get them down to the 10-yard line for a first & goal. It appeared that Novi would be the first to make a mark in the scoring ledger, but #90 Ethan Ceccarini had different ideas. On first down he simultaneously tackled the runner and punched the football from his possession where it was recovered off the turf by Cornerback Blake Badiru, Colts Ball! Starting deep in their own territory the Colts were unable to move the ball & were forced to kick away with their punter Jackson DeFore standing with his heels literally on the goal line. To the Bobcats chagrin, DeFore unloaded on the unsuspecting pigskin a punt that sailed the ball high in the sky. From there gravity and momentum did the rest as the ball did not come to rest until it was comfortably back in Bobcat territory at the 40-yard line. DeFore’s monster punt turned out to be the spark the Colts needed as they quickly forced a three & out as the defensive line of Matthew Shiffman, Nate Miller, Ceccarini, & Thomas Cook were wise to the ‘Wildcat’ QB keeper play. The tour de force Jackson DeFore returned the Novi punt 20 yards to set up the Colts in good position at their own 40 to start their second possession. It was only 2 plays later that DeFore decided to eschew sparks and went full firebomb as he took a short pass from the QB Ash and then used a move sweeter than cotton candy mixed with caramel to juke the initial defender. He then used the GO button on his Proton pack to outrun the remainder of the Bobcats for a 58 yard TD run that absolutely electrified the Colts coaches, fans, & players. The legal team of Shiffman, Cook, & Badiru converted the extra point to make it 8-0.
Feeding off the offense’s momentum, the Colts defense forced another quick Bobcat 3 & out and took possession of the ball at the Novi 35-yard line following another strong run back. From there, runs by RB’s Cole Boring & Gio Fortuna moved the ball deeper into Bobcat territory at the 10-yard line. For a moment it looked like Northville was about to bust the seams on this game wide open, but the Bobcat defense stiffened and they were able to keep the Colts stabled on fourth down. Alas, it turned out to be only a temporary armistice as Novi’s offense once again could not get sustained traction and the Colts held firm on a long 4th down pass. Yet again it did not take long for the Colts to resume the air raid. The offensive line of Shiffman, Owen Azzopardi, Valentino Ivezaj, Miller, & Max Ranka maintained the integrity of the pocket allowing Ash & DeFore to hook up once again this time on a sensational 20 yard sideline catch. From there RB #21 Boring drilled his way into the endzone on a 3 yard run in a fantastic display of brute force. The soccer style extra-point kick made it 16 – nil.
In what was becoming routine, a Novi 3 & out + punt led to the Colts starting their next offensive drive with only a quarter furlong to go for a touchdown. By this time the Bobcat defense was beginning to melt-down faster than the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl as QB Ash kept the Colts offense moving at a pace and rhythm to the coaches liking. It only took a few plays for the Colts to cash in as the QB put the money directly into Cole Boring’s register in the right corner for another Colts TD! A dramaless PAT from Badiru made it 24-0 just moments before the end of the half…the Colts were in a full gallop.
The second half began with a cringe-worthy moment of levity. Given the score, to the surprise of absolutely no one, the Bobcats attempted an onside kick to begin the 2nd half…unfortunately onsides kicks are much harder to execute than one might think as the ball trickled off the tee for a modest 3 yard kickoff net. With good field position to start the half the Colts hit the ‘resume’ button and picked up right where they left off. On third down, QB Thomas Cook stood tall in a collapsing pocket to deliver the ball downfield to WR #4 Michael Beno who used his VertiMax skillz to snag a 25 yard reception over the top of the Bobcat secondary coverage. Two plays later Cook rolled to the right and found Badiru on a short Wes Welker route to score another Colts TD. The subsequent PAT conversion made the score a very surprising 32-0 with much of the second half yet to be played.
With the outcome of the game now clear, the Colts turned their minds to the prospect of a rivalry game shutout. Bobcats are technically not of the canine order, but this dog still had some fight as Novi was able to put up a consolation TD late in the 3rd quarter to dash the shutout hopes of the Colts.
Truth be told, the fourth quarter did not yield much excitement as both teams were ready for the contest to come to its conclusion. Father time moves at his own pace, but at long last the clock finished it sojourn to 48 minutes played which signaled a détente of the 2023 Noville Derby. And thus, The Battle for the Shoe week begins…