Warren De La Salle takes a photo with the Division 2 state championship trophy after defeating Muskegon Mona Shores Nov. 23 at Ford Field. This is the Pilots' third title in program history.

Warren De La Salle takes a photo with the Division 2 state championship trophy after defeating Muskegon Mona Shores Nov. 23 at Ford Field. This is the Pilots' third title in program history.

Photo by Patricia O'Blenes


A closer look at De La Salle's title-winning defense

By: Zachary Manning | C&G Newspapers | Published November 23, 2018

DETROIT — As Warren De La Salle and Muskegon Mona Shores entered the Division 2 state championship game Nov. 23 at Ford Field, something had to give.

The Sailors entered the game averaging 45.6 points per game, while the Pilots were giving up just 8.7.

Mona Shores began the game with the ball and the Pilots immediately set the tone, stuffing a fourth-and-1 play, giving their offense the ball at the Sailors’ 36-yard line.

After a Pilots interception gave Mona Shores the ball back at the De La Salle 49-yard line, the Pilots’ defense stuffed another fourth-and-1 play, which led to a four-play, 60-yard drive, capped off by a Nolan Schultz 1-yard touchdown run, giving the Pilots a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.

“We have great defensive coaches. It’s pretty fun when you have coaches that trust you to go make plays, and they put you in the right spot. That’s why we were able to make so many plays,” senior linebacker Jacob Dobbs said.

With 10:44 left in the game, De La Salle held a 21-10 lead, but the Sailors weren’t going to go away quietly, as they embarked on an eight-play, 63-yard drive to cut the lead to 21-16 with 7:26 left to play.

But after Schultz plowed into the end zone from 1-yard out and converted a two-point conversion to put the Pilots up 13 on the ensuing drive, the defense would do the rest, as senior defensive back Derek Roskopp intercepted a floating pass, securing back-to-back state titles and third in the program’s history.

“It’s really everything you want as a high school football player is to be able to be on top and win a state championship with your brothers, and it means a lot that we were lucky enough and blessed enough to get back here a second time and come out with the win,” senior defensive back/wide receiver Joshua DeBerry said.

De La Salle was led by Dobbs, who had 16 tackles, one tackle for loss and a forced fumble. Senior linebacker Devin Campbell added 10 tackles, one sack and 1.5 tackles for loss.

As a whole, the unit allowed the Sailors to run for 162 yards and throw for just 55. Mona Shores was 1 of 9 on third down and 1 of 3 on fourth down. This was Mona Shores’ lowest scoring output since October 2016.

“He’s got a great nose for the football. He studies the game as hard as anybody, and he’s got great instincts. He’s just a really good football player,” Pilots coach Mike Giannone said of Dobbs.

Giannone credited his coordinators and players for all of the work they put in throughout the year. Dobbs added that leaving a good legacy is all you can ask for as a player.

The Pilots’ defense was dominant throughout the 2018 season, allowing opponents to score just 129 points, which is their lowest total since 2013.

Strong defense has been a staple of De La Salle teams, as they’ve allowed fewer than 200 points in 18 of the last 20 seasons.

“We had a very good defense last year. That’s a tribute to Brendan Madigan. He was our senior captain last year. He developed the motto '1/11th,' and I kind of took that over this year,” Dobbs said. “We were a little bit different on defense this year. I don’t think we were as big, but we were faster for sure. It was two great defenses and two defenses that helped us win a state championship, so I think they’re both pretty good.”