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 Royal Oak Shrine sophomore Jacob Sanders runs with the ball against Madison Heights Bishop Foley Sept. 27. Shrine won to improve to 5-0 on the season.

Royal Oak Shrine sophomore Jacob Sanders runs with the ball against Madison Heights Bishop Foley Sept. 27. Shrine won to improve to 5-0 on the season.

Photo by Mariusz Nowak

Shrine football remains undefeated after win against Bishop Foley

By: Mark Vest | C&G Newspapers | Published September 27, 2019

ROYAL OAK — Royal Oak Shrine football improved to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the Catholic High School League Intersectional #2 Division with a 31-0 victory against Madison Heights Bishop Foley Sept. 27 at Shrine.

After winning their first three games of the season, the Ventures have lost two in a row and are now 3-2 overall and 0-2 in CHSL Intersectional #2 play.

With the victory, the Knights are one win away from automatically qualifying for the playoffs.

Prior to this year, Shrine hadn’t started 5-0 since the 2013 season.

“We have a plan here at Shrine,” coach Oscar Olejniczak said following the game. “We knew (it) might take a little bit of time. Right now, the kids have bought in 100 percent. … We’re headed in the right direction. We definitely have a long way to go. … It feels great to be 5-0.”

Shrine quarterback Conor Benson threw three first-half touchdown passes to help the Knights snap a two-game losing streak against Foley.

Sophomore Charles Niehaus was on the receiving end of one of those passes in what was the only touchdown scored in the first quarter.

In the second, senior Anthony Massucci and sophomore Jacob Sanders also converted catches into touchdowns for Shrine.

The Knights led 21-0 at the half.

After getting a field goal from senior Charlie Mulcahy in the third, Shrine got its last touchdown of the game in the fourth via a pass from Benson to Niehaus from inside the 5-yard line.

Last year, the Ventures beat Shrine 55-27. Following the game, Foley coach Brian Barnes was thinking about the difference between that game and what he observed on Friday night.

“They played with a lot of emotion,” Barnes said. “They came ready to play, and we didn’t. It was kind (of) the opposite of what happened last year. … We still have four games left. There’s still a lot (of) goals that we can meet.”

How players respond after a second straight loss could go a long way toward determining Foley’s season.

“That’s why sports are great,” Barnes said. “You find out a lot about yourself and what you’re made of.”

Massucci said beating Foley was “huge.”

“Feels really good to come out here and show them what we could do,” Massucci said. “Last year, and the year before, was tough. … It was a great night.”

The Knights have already won as many games as they did all of last season, when they finished 5-5 overall.

Olejniczak discussed what he considers to be the keys to Shrine’s success thus far.

“Offseason conditioning and weight lifting,” he said. “Players have bought in. … They play together as a team.”

Up next, Shrine plays at 7 p.m. Oct. 4 at home against Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes.

Foley is at home against Detroit Edison at 7 p.m. Oct. 4.