I had a chance to cover two games this weekend; Warren Mott @ Sterling Heights Stevenson and Farmington Hills Harrison @ Southfield. While both games turned out the way I thought they would, there was several things I took away from each game.
First, let's talk Stevenson. While the Titans did handle Mott for the 2nd time in 3 weeks, 35-21, the #1 ranked team in the state showed signs of vulnerability. The loss of RB [DB]Justice Wright[/DB] was evident as the Titans had no running game. They relied heavily on the right arm of senior QB [DB]Jason Fracassa[/DB].Without the threat of the run, Fracassa threw 22 times in the 1st Half which led to only 7 points.
Don't let the final score fool you as it really does not tell the whole story. The Marauders went into halftime with momentum as it was 7-7 going into the half. Mott received the ball to start the 2nd Half and immediately began to shoot themselves in the foot. On each of Mott's first 3 possessions of the 3rd Quarter, they turned the ball over in their own territory. That led to 3 Stevenson touchdowns which put the game out of reach.
Last week Stevenson was able to get by against a flawed Warren Mott. This week they take on Detroit Southeastern at home. Without a doubt this will be the game of the weekend. I have been waiting for this one ever since the bracket was announced. Once again, don't let the records fool you. Southeastern's lone defeat came via forfeit as they were forced to vacate a win in the City Playoffs due to an ineligible player. What we really have this week, is two undefeated teams going heads up. These teams are similar in many ways. William Gholston and Jonathan Hankins will face their mirror images in the form of Charlie Walker and Carl Davis.
Again, I point to the loss of Justice Wright. With no running game, how will Fracassa handle the Southeastern Defense? This will be the fastest defense he has seen this season. The Titans like to roll the pocket so it will be imperative that they roll away from Gholston. I had picked Stevenson to win the Division 1 Championship but without Wright I don't think they can get past the Jungaleers.
Now let's talk about the Blue Jays of Southfield. They won a district title after beating fellow OAA member, Harrison 20-14, in a tough hard fought game. This game could have gone either way but it was Southfield's Defense and running game that really imposed their will on Harrison.
This was a 14-14 game at the half and Southfield's Defense would not allow another point. The Blue Jays Defense was swarming all over the field including the last series of the game. Harrison had the ball down by 6 on their own 25 with around 3:00 minutes left to play. The Hawks could not handle the Southfield Defensive Line as the Blue Jays sacked the Harrison 3 straight plays to end the game.
Southfield also added a new wrinkle to their offense in the form of RB Maurice Davenport. Davenport was just moved to the backfield at the start of the playoffs due to injuries at the position. Davenport proved to be Southfield's best player. He is a BIG back to say the least. It takes two to three defenders to bring him down. He will be a challenge for the De La Salle Defense.
Moving forward, Southfield will host De La Salle. The Pilots are coming off a 5-4 regular season. It might a surprise for some to see the Pilots make it past the districts this season. D.L.S. is a battle-tested team that plays in the Central Division of the Catholic League. They made it to the state finals last season and are looking to get back. I expect this to be a grind it out style game with not much happening through the air. I believe that whoever is able to get anything through the pass game will be victorious.
This should be a great week of MHSAA playoff action. Stick with MichiganPreps for more playoff coverage.