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October 5, 2012

St. Mary’s and Catholic Central set for Catholic League showdown

By Mike Moore
C & G Sports Writer

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St. Mary’s and Catholic Central set for Catholic League showdown
Parker McInnis (33) has been a huge weapon for St. Mary’s offense this year. The Eaglets were 5-1 prior to an Oct. 6 game against De La Salle.

There’s little introduction needed when these teams meet. It’s an annual clash between two of the most storied football programs in the state.

There’s even less strategy that goes into the game itself.

Power on power.

May the best man win.

“It’s usually a pretty simple game plan,” Novi Detroit Catholic Central football coach Tom Mach said of taking his team against Orchard Lake St. Mary’s. “They run the ball, for the most part. We’re going to do the same. So it’s usually a battle of wills and who’s standing in the end.”

“Always a big game, every single year,” said Eaglets coach George Porritt. “This has been a great rivalry for years, and it’s something the kids really look forward to and really enjoy.”

The teams are set to meet at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 at St. Mary’s, and there’s likely to be plenty on the line.

St. Mary’s, which was 5-1 heading into an Oct. 6 game against Warren De La Salle, was riding a five-game winning streak and controlled its own destiny as far as reaching the Oct. 20 Prep Bowl.

Catholic Central, 4-2 heading into an Oct. 5 game against Brother Rice, also controlled its path to the Prep Bowl, a game the Shamrocks won a year ago, by beating St. Mary’s 21-7 at Ford Field.

“I don’t know if what happened last year is a factor at all heading into this one,” said Mach, whose team lost to St. Mary’s 14-13 the week prior to the Prep Bowl. “Maybe it’s in your mind a bit, but this is a new year with new kids and new scenarios.”

“Last year doesn’t mean anything, I don’t think,” Porritt said. “When these teams meet, it’s all about the tradition of the programs and what’s usually at stake.”

If St. Mary’s beat De La Salle in the Week 6 battle played after press time, and Catholic Central did likewise to Rice, then the teams will meet in consecutive games again this year, culminating with the 7 p.m. kickoff for the Catholic League title downtown.

Even so, figuring just who may have the upper hand in the Oct. 12 game is next to impossible.

Since losing its opener 21-14 to Muskegon High, St. Mary’s averaged 37 points its next five games, beat the defending Division 1 and Division 2 state champs in Detroit Cass Tech and Rice, respectively, and had a defense allowing less than seven points per game.

“We’re playing team ball right now,” Porritt explained. “The defense has gotten stronger; our offensive line is doing a great job; and our backs have led the way.”

The Shamrocks haven’t been too shabby, either.

Since a 1-2 start, which included losses to powerhouse Ohio teams, Catholic Central won its next three games by an average score of 36-7, and since 2007, it has a 5-2 record against St. Mary’s.

“As a coach or player, you have to look forward to this game and what it means,” Mach said. “This is probably the toughest division in the entire state. So everyone knows who we are and what these games are about. It’s always great competition.”

“It’s going to be good football,” Porritt said. “They are a team that doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. They are physical, strong and a hard team to beat. We’ve been a good team too this year, but there’s a lot of work to do yet.”

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