Week Five - Don't Stop Believing

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MHSAA

Welcome to Week Five! The regular season is half way through and teams are in the thick of conference games. Some games this week that have major impact on who will win a conference title. There are injuries, bumps, bruises, and sore bodies, but now is the time when fortitude needs to be utilized to push through all that and keep getting good work done on the practice field. Let’s take a look at some of the great games that will be occurring this weekend. Remember friends, Don't Stop Believing!

Detroit

Warren DeLaSalle (4-0) vs. Detroit Catholic Central (4-0) (Sunday September 26, 2010)

In this year’s edition of the Boys Bowl, Coach Paul Verska’s Pilots will take on the Shamrocks of Detroit Catholic Central. Both teams come into the game with a spotless 4-0 record. The only difference is that DeLaSalle has played a league contest and DCC has not. Last week, DeLaSalle took on Birmingham Brother Rice and won a low scoring defensive battle. The only score of the game came from Damorria Lilly late in the first quarter. He finished with 81 yards on 22 carries. The linemen played tough and did their best to push around a very well coached Brother Rice team. BR had a chance to win the game when they were on the DLS 20 yard line with 12 seconds left, but a good defensive play by the Pilots’ Lyle Van Fleteren stopped the quarterback for a minimal gain and the time ran out. Warren DeLaSalle is ranked fifth in Division 1.

This is a big game for the Shamrocks of Detroit Catholic Central. Not only is this their version of “homecoming,” but it’s also a huge league game against another undefeated team. Last week they took on Dearborn Divine Child and came through in a big way. The defense shut out the Falcons and legendary Shamrock coach Tom Mach said, “Defense wins games. Each week will be getting harder for us and we have to be ready.” Justin D’Agostino caught a 72 yard screen for a score. Quarterback Mike Birney ran in a touchdown of 15 yards. Andy Erickson scored from 30 yards out and finished with 110 on four carries. The stout defense didn’t allow many yards; the Falcons gained 45 yards rushing and 61 yards passing for 106 yards of total offense. We all know that this will be a very tough game for both teams. The Shamrocks have won 18 straight games. They have a good defense. Fortunately for DeLaSalle, they also have a good defense. I don’t see the score getting too high, but it will definitely be a slug-fest. Novi Detroit Catholic Central is ranked #1 in Division 1

Mid Michigan

St. Charles (3-1) at Ithaca (4-0) (Friday September 24, 7pm)

I like this game for many reasons. First, these two teams have things in common for all their differences. St. Charles head coach Brady Lake is a young guy who came in and installed a very old style of offense in the Single Wing. The offense is predicated on misdirection and tough play. The quarterback in this offense needs to be able to run and throw. Ithaca quarterback Alex Niznak is also a dual threat quarterback but the Yellowjackets run the modern style spread offense. The Bulldogs of St. Charles come into the game being an honorable mention for the top 10 teams in Division 7. Quarterback Tyler Larsen is playing well so far. He has 444 yards rushing and eight touchdowns while also throwing for 231 and another three scores. Last week, he rushed an amazing 32 times to gain 146 yards and scored three times (the first was a fumble recovery for a score). Larsen also passed 12 times for six completions and 64 yards. Three of those went to Zac Henninger (28 yards) and the other three to Parker Davenport (36 yards). Davenport also rushed 10 times for 50. Henninger picked off two Kyle Tack passes on the way to a 20-12 win over the Vandals of Merrill. St. Charles was an honorable mention in the Division 6 rankings last week.

Ithaca has a good quarterback. Alex Niznak has led his team to four wins and some huge margins of victory. Last week against St. Louis, he threw for 312 yards and rushed for another 165. Four times he reached the end zone with his feet, with the longest run being a 65 yarder late in the third quarter. He completed 15 of his 21 passes and tossed one touchdown. The first half wasn’t fun and games though; Ithaca only scored once in the first half due to the St. Louis game plan of controlling the ball and clock. David Brown rushed five times for 66 yards and a score and Garrett Miniard ran five times for 50 and a score. Luke Capen caught the first touchdown of the game (14 yards) and ended with eight receptions for 102 yards. This Yellowjacket team reached the semifinals last year before falling to Montague. Niznak has already committed to Dan Enos and Central Michigan University. This game will, for all intents and purposes, decide who will win the Tri-Valley Conference West championship. Both teams are looking to make a good outing and put themselves in the driver’s seat for that trophy and a gym banner.

North

Norway (4-0) at Ishpeming (4-0) (Friday September 24, 7:30pm)

Steve Brownlee from the Mining Journal called this game, “The Showdown in I-town.” These two undefeated teams will square off in a game that could decide the winner of the Mid-Peninsula Conference. These two teams are similar in ranking to St. Charles and Ithaca. Ishpeming is tied for third in Division 7 while Norway is an honorable mention. The stout defense of the Norway Knights has a good calling card…hard hitting and sound tackling. On offense, the Knights love to run the ball. Bill Burkland is averaging more than 11 yards per carry and has 466 yards so far this season. Quarterback Jalen Bal has nearly 300 yards passing and three touchdown tosses. They might even pull out some trick plays!

Ishpeming just murdered previously unbeaten (and cross town rival) Ishpeming Westwood by a score of 49-0. Just like most games, the line play was huge in getting the  W. The Hematites jumped out quickly and never looked back. Casey McCullough caught an 89 yard touchdown pass and recorded a pick-six from 37 yards out. Quarterback Daniel Olson had several long runs and scored the first touchdown from seven yards out just over two minutes into the game. Olson also hit Gabe Eppert for a 19 yard score 30 seconds after that (Westwood fumbled deep in their territory). Olson also busted a 54 yard touchdown run. This was all in the first quarter! Unofficially, the yardage totals in the first half were 420-9. Wyatt Jurasin ripped off a 50 yard scoring run in the third. 276 of the 430 total yards came from running plays. These two teams will battle tough and I expect a closer game than what both faced last week. This is an important part of the schedule because conference championships give you bragging rights for the next year.

West Coast

East Grand Rapids (4-0) at Grand Rapids Christian (4-0) (Friday September 24, 2010)

If you follow high school football in the state of Michigan, you have heard of the Pioneers of East Grand Rapids. They have won an incredible four straight Division 3 state titles and 23 straight games. Their last loss was against Lowell back on October 24, 2008. Head coach Peter Stuursma has a program that rivals the success of Muskegon. The Pioneers have won 10 state titles in the past 34 years, including six since 2002. Last week, they punished Grand Rapids Union 51-8. Junior running back David Drummond was impressive and scored multiple touchdowns. Quarterback Ryan Elble tossed three touchdown passes, including two to wide receiver Nick Mulhall. Trent Voss picked off a pass and returned it 25 yards for another score. At the halftime break, it was 48-0. This game has extra meaning though; it is the first game in the O-K White Division for EGR. They will need to execute and not let GR Christian into the game.

Grand Rapids Christian knows this is a huge game for them. According to wide receiver Jaylin Staten, “we have been focusing on this game since Day 1.” The Eagles are 4-0 for the first time since 2002. Last week they had a big time win over Grand Rapids Kenowa Hills 48-20. GR Kenowa Hills tried to put two players on Staten, but he still rocked them for eight catches, 193 yards, and four touchdowns. Quarterback Matt Grasmeyer completed 10 of his 15 passes for 228 yards and five touchdowns. Running back Andre Davis toted the rock 15 times for 91 yards. Grand Rapids Christian is ranked 5th in the state in Division 3. The schedule gets no easier though. They are entering the O-K White part of the season and they still have yet to play EGR, Lowell, and Greenville, all of who are undefeated so far. After this game, the Eagles play Lowell.

Capital Area

Williamston (4-0) at Lansing Catholic (4-0) (Saturday September 25, 2pm)

It was a close game, but Williamston held off Portland and got the win 35-27 in a Capital Area Activities Conference White Division win. They took an early 21-0 lead in the second quarter, but Portland scored three unanswered TDs.  A missed PAT by Portland gave the Hornets a 28-27 advantage with just under 11 minutes left to play. Dylan Monette caught four touchdown passes and also threw one (58 yard strike to Tyler Watters). He finished with five catches for 191 yards. Quarterback Dylan Schultz completed 13 of his 23 passes for 267 yards. Nick Porter ran the ball eight times for 27 yards and Schultz ran eight times for 13 yards. The Hornets of Williamston are currently tied for ninth place in the Division 4 poll.

Lansing Catholic has been a surprise to some people this season. Last week, they were not ranked, but that could change after this week. Junior quarterback Cooper Rush has been very impressive. He has great size (6’3” 210lbs). So far, he has 850 passing yards and 10 touchdowns. In the 48-14 win over Lakewood, he passed for 142 yards and two touchdowns and ran three times for 10 yards and a score. Running back Andrew Robeson ran eight times for 80 yards and three scores. Matt Macksood ran seven times for 58 yards and caught six passes for 48 yards. He also returned a punt 52 yards for a score. This team is really starting to turn it on. This week they play Williamston and next week they take on defending CAAC White champion Portland. The offensive line needs to protect their quarterback and ensure he doesn’t get hurt by an overzealous defensive player. Rush is a very important part of the team and he needs to stay healthy for Lansing Catholic to keep moving forward.