Dakota players celebrate their win in the district finals over Chippewa Valley on Friday night. (Bryan Mitchell / Special to The Detroit News)
Macomb— One can only guess who Raynard Hegarty will be this week.
A senior defensive lineman at Macomb Dakota, Hegarty wears a different face each week. One week, he was Blake Williams of Romeo. Last week, he was Sicelo Robinson of Clinton Township Chippewa Valley.
It’s likely you won’t see Hegarty in a game; he’s only played in three. And you probably won’t see him play at 1 p.m. Saturday when Dakota (11-0) plays at Detroit Cass Tech (11-0) in a Division 1 region final.
But Dakota coach Mike Giannone said his team wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is without Hegarty, a 235-pound scout team player. According to Giannone, no player works harder than Hegarty on Monday-Thursday.
“He makes us so much better,” Giannone said. “He works so hard in practice. He gets in our kids faces. He becomes that tough, physical player the other team has and he’s good. I mean, he really comes at us. And he’s smart, too. He watches film and really gets into being that player.”
Keep it simple
Madison Heights Madison coach Drake Wilkins met Birmingham Brother Rice coach Al Fracassa when Wilkins was the head coach at Detroit Southeastern in the early 1990s. Wilkins sat next to Fracassa and asked him to reveal his secrets on how his teams were consistent winners. Wilkins watched Brother Rice practice and came away thinking Fracassa had some good players but, physically, they weren’t overly impressive.
“What he told me was, KISS,” Wilkins said, “I shook my head. Looked directly at him, and that’s all he said.
“So I told him, ‘I know a rock band by that name but what do you mean?’”
After a few seconds, Fracassa told Wilkins to “keep it simple, stupid.” KISS.
“Over the years I’ve become a better coach,” Wilkins said. “And I think back to that. There were times where I would over coach. I’d go up against Detroit King when Dale Harvel (now the head coach) was the defensive coordinator and try all this different stuff, thinking I could outsmart him, and we’d get on the field and we looked like anything but a football team.”
Wilkins used that “simple” philosophy Friday, when he moved Juan Johnson from receiver to running back, his normal position.
With the score tied at 20 late in the fourth quarter against Flint Beecher in a Division 6 district final, Madison faced a third-and-7 from the Beecher 9-yard line. Wilkins, knowing a field goal would win it, called for a running play to place the ball in the middle of the field.
“I called for power and gave it to Johnson,” Wilkins said. “He squirted through the line and made the linebacker miss and scored.”
Madison (11-0) defeated Beecher, 27-20, in a game Wilkins said was the hardest-hitting game his team has played this season.
Oscar Olejniczak isn’t a KISS fan, but he’s keeping it simple in his first season as head coach at U-D Jesuit. U-D was content to run the ball and play basic defense in its district final against Oak Park on Friday, and U-D came away with a methodical 14-8 victory.
“Our guys tackled well,” Olejniczak said. “They swarmed to the ball. We went up 14-0 in the first half and played defense and ran the ball in the second.”
Olejniczak’s next challenge is considerably more complicated. U-D (7-4) will play two-time defending champion Birmingham Brother Rice (11-0) in a Division 2 region final at 1 p.m. Saturday at Berkley.
The last time these Catholic League Central Division rivals met in a region final was in 2001. U-D won, 28-14.
“The kids are excited,” Olejniczak said. “It’s the school’s first district title in 12 years. We’re not going to change anything just because it’s Brother Rice.”
A dispute between two coaches that resulted in a punch being landed and an incident on the Detroit East English Village Prep sideline overshadowed Detroit King’s 28-20 victory in a Division 2 district final Friday.
According to witnesses, King coach Dale Harvel and Detroit Public Schools athletics director Alvin Ward, East English assistant coach Ed Johnson punched King assistant Vernard Snowden in the facial area after players from both teams shook hands following the game.
“It was an assault,” Harvel said. “He hit him in the jaw. He sucker-punched him. He landed the punch and (Snowden) was in retreat. They were in line shaking hands when Vernard walked away. (Johnson) went after him.”
Ward said Monday he will receive reports from both schools and eye-witnesses before his office decides what action to pursue.
“(Snowden) filed charges,” Ward said. “It has to start with him.”
Two players, one from each team, were ejected as a result of an altercation that took place with 58 seconds left near East English’s bench.
“It does look bad,” Harvel said. “And I’m tired of it. We try to do things the right way here.”
Temperance Bedford trailed Saline, 22-8, in the first half before coming back to win, 36-29.
Saline took that 22-8 lead when Dominic DeMelis intercepted quarterback Brad Boss’ screen pass intended for Alec Hullibarger. With 1:30 left in the half, Bedford came back with the same play and this time Hullibarger caught Boss’ pass and scored to cut the lead to 22-15.
Saline led, 29-22, when Bedford again went to that same well and Hullibarger scored on a 5-yard screen pass to tie it at 29 with 6:30 left.
Jack Mason and A.J. Simpson teamed to stop a Saline ball carrier on a fourth-and-1 on Saline’s 36, leading to Hullibarger’s 2-yard touchdown run with 42 seconds left that gave Bedford the victory.
“We’ve seen that play work for two years now,” Bedford coach Jeff Wood said. “We were going to keep going to it. We knew it was there.”