The Belleville Tigers topped the Novi Wildcats 41-10 Friday night at the Xenith Prep Kickoff Classic. This was Belleville’s first game since it defeated Adams 55-33 in the 2021 DI state final.
Novi senior quarterback Luke Aurilia and Belleville’s star sophomore quarterback Bryce Underwood were the game's MVPs.
Novi’s only touchdown came on a fourth quarter pass from Aurilia.
Here are four takeaways from the game :
Belleville Defense Stood Stout
Most of the hype surrounding Belleville revolves around Underwood, and justifiably so. However, the Tigers defense came to play, and it brought the hammer with them.
Throughout Friday night’s game, Belleville hits were echoing around Tom Adams Field.
“I loved how our defense played,” Underwood said. “When they play like that it, just means that I’m getting the ball back, and then when they get back out there they can dominate even more.”
Underwood was recently named the top quarterback in the country for the class of 2025 by 247sports.
On Belleville’s first drive of the game, Underwood went 5-5 with completions to five different receivers. In case people thought he was one dimensional, he finished the drive with his feet on a touchdown run in which he barged through three Novi defenders.
Underwood also showed an impressive ability to throw on the run. Before the half, Underwood threw a Hail Mary in an attempt at a last second touchdown. He put his arm on full display, as the pass went roughly 60 yards and flew over the back of the endzone.
Underwood added two more touchdowns through the air before he came out of the game in the third quarter.
Tigers Fight Through Injuries
The most notable Tiger without pads Friday night was senior defensive back and wide receiver Mychal Yharbrough. Yharbrough, who has multiple DI offers, is arguably Underwood’s top receiver.
In total, however, Belleville was missing several potential starters.
“We were down quite a few people. I mean we had 15 people that didn’t dress, and a lot of them are potential starters,” Belleville head coach Jermain Crowell said.
“In the first quarter, I didn’t know how it was going to go because we had a bunch of ‘other guys’ out there. We did all right, and vice versa. I don’t think Novi tried to attack us. They were more playing a conservative game which allowed us some time to get our feet up under us, and not everybody is going to do that,” Crowell said.
Belleville Looking Ahead
With so many players out, it’s hard to tell what Belleville will look like at full strength. The Tigers begin league play with their next game against Dearborn, but their week three home debut against Churchill, whom they suffered their only loss to in 2021, already has their attention.
“By the time week three rolls around when we open up at home, I’m targeting that for us to have a bunch of people back,” Crowell said.
"Yarbrough hurt his ankle in a scrimmage and he’s just getting to (a place) where I thought he’d be good (to play), but I told him I was going to hold him back. I might even hold him back next week and just let all the kids cut loose. We play Churchill in our home opener, and they beat us last year, so we have that circled on our calendar and I’m looking forward to it.”