BEVERLY HILLS — Kamren Flowers’ debut as a big-play threat for West Bloomfield was about as inauspicious as you could get.
But that’s what redemption is for.
After dropping a wide-open potential touchdown in Week 1, Flowers more than made amends in Week 2, scoring on his first touch against Birmingham Groves on Thursday, and rushing for 115 yards and two of the five touchdowns of 30-plus yards the Lakers put up in a 41-19 rout.
“It happens, adversity. Had to deal with it, you know, so I had to come back, work on it again, on the JUGS jug machine to perfect it, to get better — and you know, the work paid off today,” Flowers said. “I feel relieved. I transferred here, you know, and I wanted to prove myself, you know, I can play at the highest level in Michigan. And you know, I feel like I displayed that today.”
Flowers scored on a 30-yard jet sweep mid-first quarter to put the Lakers up for good, 14-7, then scored again on a 44-yard sweep in the fourth quarter, when the Falcons had made it a two-score game with five minutes to play.
As a team, the Lakers ran for 173 yards on 27 carries, much of that in the second half, when quarterback Reqez Nance — who finished 9-for-14 passing for 214 yards and three touchdowns, but threw just two passes in the second half — was a bit hobbled.
“He kind of took a weird shot on the knee. He wasn’t like a hyperextension — it kind of went sideways a little, so he was sore. And he lost some of his mobility today. But he toughed it out. He’s a real tough kid,” West Bloomfield coach Zach Hilbers said. “He knows all our stuff, you know, three-year starter. It’s like having one of us (a coach) out there. You know, if we get a play flipped in our head called left to right, you know, he fixes stuff like that.”
Just four plays into the game, Nance hit Elisha Dunham with a 63-yard touchdown pass to put the Lakers (2-0) up 7-0. Groves answered with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Cayden Hardy to Nick Hardy to tie it up, but West Bloomfield scored the next four touchdowns to open the game up.
Nance dumped a screen off to Marquis Morris, who took it 72 yards for a score and a 21-7 lead, then Nance hit Durham for 35 yards and a second score — already their fourth TD connection of the season. After Groves muffed the ensuing kickoff, Josh Tate added an 8-yard touchdown run to make it 34-7.
Groves muffed the next kickoff, too, but the Lakers couldn’t capitalize.
“We just got to do better. I mean, but give them give them they’re really good you can’t you can’t muff kick returns and play against a great team like that, and expect to do well. … It was a short week, and we didn’t do our kick specialties yesterday — which we normally do, we do every year — we didn’t do them yesterday and you know that’s what happens so it’s a coaching error. It’s on me,” Groves coach Brendan Flaherty said. “I think there’s a lot of stuff we have to get better at. We just didn’t play real well, we didn’t coach real well, we didn’t play real well, we didn’t prepare real well.”
The Falcons went into halftime with a bit of momentum, getting a 7-yard touchdown pass from Cayden Hardy to Noah Woods with just over a minute to play in the first half, but didn’t carry the momentum over, going three-and-out on their first possession of the second half.
Neither team scored until 5:06 remained in the game, when Cayden Hardy hit Noah Sanders with a shovel pass for a 17-yard touchdown, but the 2-point pass failed, leaving it 34-19. Five plays later, Flowers ripped off his second touchdown run, making it a three-score game with 2:26 to play, effectively putting it out of reach.
“They’re pretty good. That’s the one thing I told the guys: You gotta try to weather the storm. You gotta get used to speed like that, because we don’t have anybody that fast,” Flaherty said. “Like you can’t do scout team, and say, ‘Hey, be their guy,’ because we don’t we don’t have it — we’ve got a couple guys (that fast), but they’re playing defense. But I gotta give them credit. They’re good team.”
While the Lakers still didn’t run the ball between the tackles as effectively has they have in the past, the outside runs with their speedy wings helped stretch the field laterally.
“I just want to put stress on people in all parts of the field. … Hopefully if we can get that run game going laterally and then vertically that will open our play action a little bit,” said Hilbers, who made a point of checking in with Flowers in the second half, and wanted to bring his confidence back up after the disappointment in Week 1. “We know he can do, right? So we just wanted to get his head in the right spot. I’m glad he had a big game. You know, hopefully you can kind of complement the rest of our offense having a kid like that out there.”
The speed was never in question.
Flowers won Oakland County titles in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes in the spring, posting eighth-place finishes in both events at the Division 1 state meet.
Has anyone ever caught him from behind when he’s in the open field.
“Not when I’m running for real, no,” he said with a laugh.
Photo gallery from West Bloomfield at Birmingham Groves football
Both teams now dive into the divisional races, with West Bloomfield hosting Stoney Creek in Week 3, and Groves hosting Farmington.