Prime-time preps — Shrine football vs. Cabrini, 2 p.m. Sept. 30
ROYAL OAK — When the 2012 season began, Royal Oak Shrine football coach John Goddard was cautiously optimistic with his guys and the goals he was going to set moving forward.
Sure, the program had made nine consecutive playoff appearances and was fresh off a 9-2 season the previous fall, but this was one of the youngest teams Goddard had ever coached, and getting ahead of himself was something he promised not to do.
Some five weeks later, he almost can’t help it.
“What can I say, I’m very pleasantly surprised,” Goddard said last week of his team, which was 4-1 on the season. “We’ve got some great senior leadership, and the younger guys have really stepped up. It’s been a real nice surprise so far.”
The Knights’ next test will be one of their toughest, though. The team welcomes Allen Park Cabrini for homecoming on a Sunday afternoon. The Sept. 30 game is set to kick off at 2 p.m. at Shrine.
“It’s always a good game with them, and we expect more of the same,” Goddard said. “Cabrini is a big, physical team with a really good running back. If we can’t match that physicality, we’ll be in trouble. But if our line can play with theirs, we’re going to be in good shape.”
Shrine and Cabrini didn’t play last year, but the Knights have a three-game winning streak going in the series.
They last won in 2010, a 31-19 final.
“I don’t think any of those games play into this,” Goddard said with a laugh. “Our team is so young and so different.”
Goddard said he plans to rely on a defense that has been strong since the opening week. Aside from a 24-21 loss to Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes, the Knights haven’t allowed more than 20 points in a single game and are fresh off a 28-15 win against Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood Sept 22.
“They’ve been great,” the coach said. “We’ll need more of that again this time.”
One thing is certain: Goddard expects a great atmosphere for the game.
“We have our Hall of Fame event the night before, and we always have a ton of people come out,” he said. “Cabrini usually brings a good crowd too, so we expect things to be pretty crazy. We’re looking forward to it.”
In other Catholic League action
Birmingham Brother Rice and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s are set for a Central Division clash at 7 p.m. Sept. 29 at Rice.
Warren De La Salle plays host to Niagara Academy (Canada) at 1 p.m. Sept. 29 at St. Clair Shores Lake Shore.