2019 Football Preview: Royal Oak Shrine

2018 Record: 5-5

By: C & G Sports Staff | Royal Oak Review | Published July 15, 2019

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Last season’s record: 5-5

League: Catholic High School League Intersectional II

Returning starters: 14

First game: 5 p.m. Aug. 29 vs. Whitmore Lake High 

Offensive keys:

Coach Oscar Olejniczak’s offense starts with quarterback Conor Benson. 

Benson started half the season last year as a freshman. The coach noted how he likes Benson’s ability to command the offense. The goal this year is to make sure he is able to put the Knights in the right checks and make the right plays.

“He has grown tremendously,” Olejniczak said. “Not having to install the offense, we’ve been able to go over reads where he’s able to sit back there, look at what they’re doing and wonder what route is coming. That’s been a lot of fun. His leadership has been great.”

Another key component to the offense this season will be senior wide receiver Anthony Massucci. Olejniczak expects Massucci to be moved around quite a bit in the offense.

“He’s someone who I’m really excited to watch flourish this year,” the coach said.

Defensive keys: 

The number of points the Knights have surrendered each season has been on the rise ever since 2015. Last year, the Knights gave up 231 points. 

If the Knights are going to improve on defense and find success this season, it’s going to flow through their linebacking core.

“They’re going to be the ones that really drive us defensively with their physicality and things like that,” the coach said.

Linebacker Jacob Piekutowski and defensive back Alex Armenio are players to watch on this side of the ball. Piekutowski was injured for the majority of last year, and Armenio had to sit out last year as a result of transferring. 

Coach’s outlook:

In his first season at the helm of the Knights’ football team, Olejniczak made the playoffs. Since 2000, Shrine has played in the postseason 16 times. The goal for the Knights this season is the same as any season: make the state playoffs.

From there, Olejniczak hopes to see the team grow with each game. 

“I think we’re going to be OK, but over half our team is freshmen and sophomore’s, so we’re going to be young,” he said. “I really like where we’re heading with the program and what they’re doing.”


Schedule:

vs. Whitmore Lake High (4-5) — 5 p.m. Aug. 29
The Knights fell to Whitmore Lake last season 39-14, also in Week 1. The only other meeting between the programs came in the 2003 playoffs when the Knights lost 16-10.

at Adrian Madison (2-7) — 7 p.m. Sept. 6
The Trojans and Knights will do battle with each other this season after taking last year off. Shrine pulled away in the 2017 matchup, topping Madison 46-15.

vs. Detroit Voyageur (1-7) — 7 p.m. Sept. 13
It’s the first meeting between the programs. Since their inception in 2009, the Cougars have finished with a winning record just twice.

at Marine City Cardinal Mooney (1-8) — 1 p.m. Sept. 21
In 14 total games against the Cardinals, Shrine has won 13. In last year’s game, the Knights beat Mooney 43-6.

vs. Madison Heights Bishop Foley (8-2) — 7 p.m. Sept. 27
No other team has been on the Knights’ schedule more than Bishop Foley. In 29 total games between the two schools, Shrine has won 16. The Ventures, however, narrowed that gap last season with a 55-27 win.

vs. Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes (5-5) — 7 p.m. Oct. 4
When these two squads met last season, the Lakers came out on top 31-21. It was their second victory over the Knights in as many years.

at Britton Deerfield (1-8) — 7 p.m. Oct. 11
This is the first meeting between the programs. Britton Deerfield started its football team in 2011. It last made the playoffs in 2013.
    
at Clarkston Everest Collegiate (9-2) — 7 p.m. Oct. 18
Since the Mountaineers opened their doors in 2013, the football program has made the playoffs every year. Shrine is one of two teams that has a winning record against Everest.

at TBA Prep Bowl or crossover — 4 p.m. Oct. 25

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