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September 18, 2013

St. Mary’s opens Catholic League play against much-improved U of D

By Mark Vest
C & G Sports Writer

» click to enlarge «
St. Mary’s senior Mark Zanders (5) runs the ball in a scrimmage before the season began. The Eaglets open Catholic League play against U of D on Sept. 20.

For years, this has been a win — somewhat guaranteed, at that.

In fact, since 2004, the Orchard Lake St. Mary’s football team is 9-0 against the University of Detroit Jesuit, with an average margin of victory at 28.8 points.

For years, it hasn’t been close.

George Porritt isn’t expecting the same when the two Catholic League foes meet to open Central Division play Sept. 20.

“They are a strong team with a new coach that is playing some good football right now,” Porritt, the St. Mary’s head coach, said last week of the 7 p.m. game at U of D. The Eaglets won last year’s meeting 43-7, and only one contest in the past nine years has ended with a single-digit difference. “We’re looking forward to starting league play with a great test.”

Porritt spoke a few days before St. Mary’s took on Detroit Consortium College Prep Sept. 13 in a game played after press time.

The Eaglets opened the season with a 25-20 loss to Oak Park High before beating Toledo Whitmer 10-3 on Sept. 6.

U of D was 2-0 at press time, picking up a 24-7 victory against Grosse Pointe South and a 28-27 win over Detroit Country Day.

The Cubs, 2-7 last year, faced Davison High after press time.

Porritt said he has no doubt that his guys won’t look past U of D.

“All we have to do is look at who they’ve played and beaten already,” Porritt noted. “I’ve always believed U of D was a team right on the brink, a team right there to break out.”

Porritt said the key, as simple as it sounds, is eliminating mistakes for his guys.

In the loss to Oak Park, too many mishaps gave way to what some considered a big upset. In the win against Whitmer, those were all but cleaned up.

And after winning the Prep Bowl in 2012, Porritt knows how big it would be to start league play on the right foot.

“It’s just fun,” he said of playing in the (Catholic High School League) Central. “It’s one of the most competitive leagues in the state. It’s such a great challenge every week, and if you can get that first win, it sets you up for the rest. But if you’re 0-1 to start, it makes that next week’s game that much tougher. There is no easy game.”

At least not this year.

You can reach C & G Sports Writer Mark Vest at mvest@candgnews.com or at (586)279-1112. Twitter Follow Mark on Twitter.