Catholic League Clash Week 8: Cranbrook (7-0) and Our Lady of the Lakes (7-0) seek top spot in Intersectional Division

By: Mike Moore | Online Only | Published October 14, 2015

 Cranbrook freshman Kobi Russell (1) runs for a touchdown last weekend against Shrine. The Cranes' offense is in for its biggest test so far against the Lakers on Saturday.

Cranbrook freshman Kobi Russell (1) runs for a touchdown last weekend against Shrine. The Cranes' offense is in for its biggest test so far against the Lakers on Saturday.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes

On paper, Joe D’Angelo said Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes “looks unbeatable.”

But football games aren’t played on paper, and that’s the fuel for D’Angelo’s optimism as his Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook-Kingswood football team preps for a Week 8 showdown with the unbeaten Lakers.

“You have to believe that every team can be beat,” D’Angelo said of the 2 p.m. home game Saturday afternoon. “A lot of things can happen over the course of a game. We need to play the best game of our season, and maybe they have an off day. If Lakes plays as they are capable, and we’re not at our best, it will be tough. But I’m always optimistic.”

Given the Cranes’ record, he certainly has reason to be.

Following last weekend’s 27-26 victory against Royal Oak Shrine, Cranbrook improved to 7-0 and remained without a loss this deep into a season for the first time since 2004.

The Cranes have shown the ability to win big this year, but have also won three games by a single point.

But they have not seen a team like Lakes yet.

The Lakers are 7-0, have won by shutout in four of those games, have scored 293 points in seven weeks (41.9 per game) and have allowed 32 points — total.

“They have a senior-dominated team. They can run. They are big. They are well coached,” D’Angelo said of the Lakers. “But have they been tested? That’s what we have to figure out.”

Lakes has been an absolute power since 1989, suffering one losing season since then while making the state playoffs 23 times in that span.

The only times the Lakers have missed since 1989 was in 2011 (4-5 record), 1996 (6-3) and 1989 (7-2).

They are 4-0 all-time against the Cranes, and none of those games have been close.

Last year’s meeting ended in a 42-0 Cranbrook loss. The year before, it was 37-6.

“There’s a lot of excitement about this game from our guys,” D’Angelo said. “And truthfully, being so young, I don’t know if they really understand the pressure this game is going to bring. Can a young team like us beat an experienced team like them. That’s what it comes down to.”

That, and whether or not a Cranbrook defense giving up roughly 13 points per game can slow the Lakes' attack.

The key is finding ways to limit the Senerius brothers.

Clay Senerius, Lakes' starting quarterback, has passed for 1,708 yards this year with 21 touchdowns and just four interceptions while completing more than 62 percent of his passes.

And his main target is Devin Senerius, his brother, who’s hauled in 38 passes for 688 yards and six touchdowns.

“Defensively, we’ve been able to take away our opponents best players all season,” D’Angelo said. “But it will be tough against them because they can attack in so many ways.”

While the Lakers have been dominant defensively, D’Angelo said he expects to see his guys score.

Quarterback Tyler Santengelo has been brilliant, passing for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns while leading the Cranes to roughly 30 points per game.

With running backs Jalen Allen and Aaron Wiggins both still out due to injury, Santangelo will have to have another big game.

“But I think our passing attack and the tempo we play with will allow us to score,” D’Angelo said. “We expect to move the ball and hang in there.”

A bit of a confession here. I’ve seen Cranbrook play a couple times this year and have yet to see Lakes in action. But in talking to a number of Catholic League coaches, it’s been made pretty clear the guys from Waterford are legit — and scary good. Cranbrook is having a record-breaking year, much of that due to D’Angelo and his coaching staff. The Cranes are an exciting, up-tempo team with plenty of weapons on both sides of the ball. But Lakes is, well, scary good. The 293-32 combined score the team has put up in seven games gives way to wondering just how difficult Lakes schedule has been. But, to be fair, it’s an almost identical schedule to what Cranbrook has played. You can’t fault the Cranes for winning some very close games, but it’s tough to ignore the fact Lakes simply hasn’t. This could be a budding rivalry as Cranbrook’s roster ages the next few seasons, but not here. Not yet. Both of these teams will be dangerous come playoff time, but Lakes “looks unbeatable” on paper, and late Saturday afternoon, will still be. My pick: Our Lady of the Lakes

Other Catholic League picks (winners in bold)
Warren De La Salle (6-1) vs. Novi Detroit Catholic Central (5-2) — 7 p.m. Oct. 16 @ Wayne State University

Birmingham Brother Rice (1-6) vs. University of Detroit Jesuit (4-3) — 1 p.m. Oct. 17 @ Hurley Field in Berkley

Royal Oak Shrine (3-4) @ Riverview Gabriel Richard (5-2) — 7 p.m. Oct. 16

Pontiac Notre Dame Prep (6-1) @ Owosso High (0-7) — 7 p.m. Oct. 16

Last week’s record: 4-1

Season record: 27-4