Published November 14, 2012
Top three squads in Catholic League Central Division arrive in semifinals
By Mike Moore email@example.com Follow Mike on Twitter.
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 came 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 held 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.”
Shon Powell finished the game with 150 yards rushing and two scores 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.
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?”
Heading into his team’s D-3 regional final against Detroit East English, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s coach George Porritt knew his guys would be facing one of their toughest challenges yet as far as the defense was concerned.
After all, East English is a pound-the-ball type of squad averaging 45 points per game and had scored 63 in each of its first two playoff wins.
So, the Eaglets did what the Eaglets do best: possessed the ball and dominated with the run game.
And in the end, it was good for a 42-26 victory.
“The ball control was really key,” Porritt said. “We won the line of scrimmage, and that was a huge factor in the game.”
East English led 6-0 after returning the opening kick for a touchdown.
But St. Mary’s then scored touchdowns on its next seven possessions to cruise to the win.
“Defensively, we were able to eliminate the big play,” Porritt said. “They had all the potential to burn us, but our guys never allowed it.”
Grant Niemiec and Parker McInnis paced the offense yet again, combining for 246 yards on the ground and six touchdowns.
St. Mary’s (10-2) now faces Battle Creek Harper Creek (10-2) at 1 p.m. Nov. 17 at Chelsea High.
“We don’t know much about them, but the focus will be on what we do,” Porritt said. “If we do more of the same, more of what’s gotten us to this point, we’ll be fine.”
Novi Detroit Catholic Central is one step away from getting back to the D-1 final, where the Shamrocks lost last year.
To do so, they’ll have to beat the same team that they did in 2011 in the same game.
“I don’t think what happened last year will play into this one very much,” coach Tom Mach said with a laugh. His guys beat Plymouth High 28-7 in a regional final and face Rockford High (10-2) at 1 p.m. Nov. 17 at Battle Creek Central. “They may have that revenge factor in mind, but this is going to be two good teams going at it again.”
Catholic Central, 8-4 after qualifying for the playoffs with an at-large bid, beat Rockford 23-20 last year in the semis before falling to Detroit Cass Tech 49-13 in the final.
Cass Tech (10-2) faces Lake Orion High (11-1) in the other D-1 semifinal.