Kamen Booker was hooked on football long before he joined an emerging program at Belmont High School. Home-schooled through his sophomore year, the senior first played football for the Bison last season.
“I was kicking myself while I wasn’t playing football,” said Booker, a rugged 6-foot-1, 190-pound two-way offensive lineman and defensive end. “I always wanted to; it was just the situation I was in. This is exactly what we’ve been working for.”
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What unbeaten Belmont has been working on is an unprecedented regular season. It started with a shocking 42-0 blowout of rival Dunbar in the season opener and hasn’t abated, including a 62-6 Week 6 hammering of Cincinnati Hughes at Welcome Stadium on Saturday night.
Loaded with all 11 returning defensive starters, Belmont has shut down every offensive challenge. The Bison defense has allowed just three points, less than 500 total yards, has 10 interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) and recovered six fumbles. Through six games Belmont has outscored opponents 260-9.
Hughes’ lone touchdown of the season against Belmont came on a fumble recovery, which means the Bison defense still hasn’t allowed a team in the end zone.
Those lopsided numbers are the best of any area team and has to be among the state’s best, too.
Other than Dunbar and a 12-0 defeat of Fenwick in Week 2, Belmont’s schedule is stuffed with teams it should overpower. Bumped up to Division II, the Bison will be a tough out in the postseason and unquestionably earn a wildcard distinction. That’s because few teams run the “gun double-wing” offense like Belmont.
It’s a run-oriented attack that features an abundance of misdirection. The addition of sophomore standout quarterback Rian Reaves is a bonus. He had scoring runs of 70, 58 and 38 yards against Hughes.
“It’s the same double-wing,” said Belmont coach Earl White, laughing, “we’ve just got a quarterback who can run. He replaces what the fullback was doing.”
Belmont senior linebacker Alfred Bradford leads the team in tackles. “We got it all,” he said.
Belmont couldn’t secure a Week 10 game, meaning it’ll have two weeks to heal and prepare for the playoffs. Belmont will play Ponitz, Shroeder and Western Hills to complete the regular season. Those teams are a combined 4-14.
Belmont went into the Hughes game fifth in D-II, Region 8 computer points and ironically is benefitting the most from the Dunbar win and the abundance of the Wolverines’ second-level points. Teams earn points for wins and wins by a defeated opponent.
White likes Belmont’s postseason chances. That will be the third straight season Belmont will have qualified for the playoffs.
“We won’t have the depth of any team,” White said, “but if we can stay relatively healthy, starter for starter we can play with a lot of schools. We’re more mature physically than what we were the last couple years.”
Belmont (6-0) plays Ponitz (2-4) in a Week 7 game on Thursday at Welcome Stadium. Thurgood Marshall defeated Ponitz 35-8 in Week 6.
• Dunbar stepped out of its comfort zone and lost 56-32 at Michigan power Novi Detroit Central Catholic on Saturday night. The loss dropped Dunbar (4-2) from a tie for fifth to ninth in the D-III, Region 12 computer rankings.
That snapped a streak of four straight wins for Dunbar after being overwhelmed by Belmont.
“We finally woke up,” Dunbar coach Darran Powell prior to the DCC game. “We just thought people were going to lay down because we had Dunbar on our chest because of the success we’ve been having. Our defensive has stepped up and our play-makers came alive after Week 1.”
Catholic Central (4-2) is a perennial Michigan big-school power and was a Division I state runner-up last season. There are eight divisions in Michigan and an additional 8-man division. Dunbar should roll through its remaining four games and will be heavily favored over City League rivals Meadowdale in Week 7 and Thurgood in Week 10.
“We can’t get (Week 1’s loss to Belmont) back, but best of luck to them,” Powell said. “That’s a good thing for the City (League).”
• Centerville coach Brent Ullery was asked if he were going to be able to sleep Friday night after a 39-22 win at rival Wayne. “I’m probably going to crash on the bus,” he said.
Centerville (6-0) strengthened its No. 1 grip on the D-I, Region 3 field. Winning out and completing a 10-0 regular season is a daunting task with Northmont (4-2), Fairmont (5-1) and Beavercreek (5-1) ahead. Centerville hosts Lebanon (2-4) in Week 7.
“These kids are special,” Ullery assured. “We’ve had a lot of good wins. They’re being resilient. They’re giving a lot of attitude and effort and I think they’re making the alumni proud.”
• There are two games on Thursday: Belmont vs. Ponitz at Welcome Stadium and Tippecanoe at Sidney. Both are at 7 p.m.
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