LANSING | Times No. 2 Crete-Monee lost several stars from last season's Class 6A state championship team, but the Warriors proved Saturday that they are ready to add another historic chapter.
Its defense proved to be as stingy as last year.
Crete dominated T.F. South on both sides of the ball in the head coaching debut for the Warriors' John Konecki.
Even without star linebacker Nyles Morgan, who sat out the opener with a sore left knee, the Warriors shut down T.F. South 43-6.
The Warriors defense held the Rebels to minus-39 yards rushing and 72 yards of total offense while compiling 378 yards of offense.
It was defensive tackle Chris Jernigan who stepped up with a pair of third-quarter safeties to help put the game away.
"When I wrapped (T.F. South quarterback Cody Petrich) up, I knew I couldn't lose contain," Jernigan said. "I had to finish it up. The defense knew we had to step up."
Even without Morgan.
"We knew he wasn't going to play and he is the heart of our defense," Jernigan said. "We also know we have a lot of good players, and we all stepped up."
Both teams had to wait a day after the weather postponed Friday's originally scheduled opener.
Crete, the No. 1 team in Class 6A, shut down the Rebels rushing attack. Jonathan Draper had a sack and an interception.
Sophomore quarterback Franklin Douglas had a great debut, completing 15-of-26 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns.
"Sure I was a little nervous," Douglas said of replacing graduated Marcus Terrell. "I have some big shoes to fill, and I got over the nervousness."
It was Crete-Monee's 22nd straight regular-season win with its last regular-season loss coming to Marian Catholic on Oct. 1, 2010. Crete has won 25 of its last 26 games. The Warriors last season-opening loss was to T.F. South in the 2010 opener.
After South missed a field-goal attempt, Crete got its first score when Frank Douglas hit Raphael Vallot on a screen to the left side. Vallot went 30 yards to make it 7-0 with 11:34 left in the second.
"I just saw him open and threw it out there," Douglas said. "He made a good play."
Deshaun Smith made it 13-0 on a 2-yard run with 5:36 left in the half.
T.F. South rushed for minus-23 yards in the first half and had 18 passing yards. Crete had 228 first-half yards.
After taking a 13-0 halftime lead, the Warriors put the game away in the third quarter with a safety and two other scores.
South's score came when Cody Petrich hit Elijah Graham for a 10-yard score with 9:14 left.
Crete's Trevon Smith returned an interception 25 yards to close out the scoring.
"What can you say? They dominated us on both sides of the ball," T.F. South coach Tom Padjen said. "Same thing last year (a 38-7 loss) and we came back to win seven in a row. I think this team has the capability to bounce back."