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November 14, 2012

Brother Rice and Country Day advance to state semifinals in respective divisions

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
Brother Rice’s Brian Walker makes a dash for the end zone during the team’s D-2 regional final win against Walled Lake Western. Rice faces Wyandotte-Roosevelt (11-1) at 1 p.m. Nov. 17.

WALLED LAKE — With the game in hand, this was a chip shot of a field goal, an extra three points to an already insurmountable lead.

But then the snap was botched, the hold didn’t go down, and in an instant, pressure came from both sides, filling the Brother Rice backfield with equal parts chaos and panic.

A moment later, Sergio Perkovic stood alone in the back of the end zone, on the receiving end of a 9-yard pass, holding the ball over his head while pumping his fist in celebration.

Tonight, even mistakes were coming up gold.

“Sometimes, you just can’t explain games like this,” coach Al Fracassa said with a smile following a 42-12 win against Walled Lake Western in a Division 2 regional final Nov. 9. “Everything went our way tonight. We’ll take it. You never know when that’s going to happen, and it may not again, but tonight it did.”

From start to finish.

Brian Walker scored for Rice in the first quarter on a 2-yard run, set up by his own 46-yard run, and Rice took an early 7-0 lead.

Western added a field goal and a safety early in the second and trailed just 7-5.

Then the guys in orange and black came to life.

Walker scored his second touchdown of the game on a 1-yard run midway through the second quarter to make it 14-5.

Shon Powell found the end zone minutes later on a 56-yard run.

Perkovic caught a 25-yard touchdown pass with just 1:38 remaining in the half to give Rice a 28-5 lead, and then after recovering the onside kick, Rice marched right down the field and took a 35-5 halftime lead on Powell’s second score.

Perkovic capped the offensive output with his would-be field-goal touchdown grab in the third quarter.

“I didn’t tell them anything special, it was just one of those nights where everything went our way,” Fracassa added, still trying to put a finger on his team’s dominance.

Powell finished the game with 150 yards rushing on just 11 carries.

Even he was shocked at the outcome.

“When you go in at halftime and you see that score, it’s just crazy,” he said. “But the offense and the defense are clicking right now. That’s what we need.”

As dominant as the offense was, the Rice defense was a suffocating power, allowing just 28 yards in the first half and then forcing five turnovers in the fourth quarter.

“It was a tough night, but we just lost to a very good team,” Western coach Mike Zdebski said.

Rice, now 10-2 and in the semifinals for the third time in four years, takes on Wyandotte-Roosevelt (11-1) at 1 p.m. Nov. 17 at Gibraltar Carlson.

“We don’t know much about them at all,” Fracassa said of the Bears, who beat Oak Park 10-6 in their regional. “We’ll see what happens. Maybe we’ll get another chance to get down there and play at Ford Field again. Wouldn’t that be awesome?”

Still stinging
Country Day continued its season in the Division 4 playoffs, advancing to the semifinals after a convincing 47-14 victory at home against Grosse Ile High in the regional final.

“This was a big one,” coach Dan MacLean said. “We started a little slow, throwing an early interception and then having a punt blocked. But while we were down, we kept our poise and hug in.”

Coming off a 70-point performance a week ago, Grosse Ile took a 7-0 lead in the first after blocking a Country Day punt.

Then the Yellowjackets seized momentum.

Maurice Ways hauled in a 75-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Wiegers 58 seconds into the second quarter, and Richard Wilson scored on runs of 8 and 11 yards, giving the home team a 21-7 lead at halftime.

Wiegers hit brother Tristin Wiegers with a 15-yard touchdown early in the third, Joe Bergin returned an interception 30 yards for a score, and then Wilson caught a 28-yard touchdown pass with 3:41 remaining in the third to give Country Day a 41-14 lead after three.

Wilson added his fourth touchdown on a 5-yard run early in the fourth quarter.

Country Day (10-2) faces Saginaw Swan Valley (10-2) in a semifinal at 1 p.m. Nov. 17 at Ortonville-Brandon.

“We got to see them play a little bit in their regional game,” MacLean said. “They are a hard-nosed team that plays old-fashion football. They are going to come at you with some good players and athletic linemen. It’s going to be a great challenge.”

“We’re enjoying this right now,” MacLean added. “We’ve got a great group of guys who are going week to week. We thought we’d have a good shot to go on a run when the playoffs started, and now to do it is pretty special.”

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mike Moore at mmoore@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1038. Twitter Follow Mike on Twitter.