Detroit — It’s a proud day in Clarkston now that Kurt Richardson’s team defeated Detroit Catholic Central 32-14 in Saturday’s Division 1 final
And this proud moment won’t soon fade because this title is not just for this team alone. It’s for the players and coaches who came before as well.
“This one is for every kid who wore a uniform at Clarkston,” Richardson said. “It’s for every band member who practiced in the cold. This is for C-town.
“I want to give credit to my assistants. Six guys are Clarkston guys. The other two are adopted.”
Richardson, being a defensive coach, gave especial credit to his offensive coaches notably Rich Porritt, the brother of Orchard Lake St. Mary’s head coach, George Porritt, and Brian Zezula, the father of junior quarterback D.J. Zezula.
The search begins
Al Fracassa’s last season, last game on Friday, begs the questions who will replace the legendary coach at Birmingham Brother Rice.
There’s a lengthy list and those candidates. Those candidates are expected to go through the interview process over the next two weeks with Fracassa’s replacement to be named by the first week of January at the latest.
It’s important for the school to name a candidate by early January so that coach can oversee the weight-training that takes place that month.
The of candidates includes, in alphabetical order, Detroit Loyola coach John Callahan, Detroit Country Day coach Dan MacLean, Clinton Township Chippewa Valley coach Scott Merchant, Rochester Adams coach Tony Patritto, Brother Rice offensive coordinator Dave Sofran and Pontiac Notre Dame Prep coach Kyle Zimmerman.
MacLean, Merchant and Sofran are Brother Rice graduates.
Grand Rapids West Catholic succeeded in a fake field goal try that resulted in a 30-yard touchdown pass from Travis Hoving to Bryce Witham that gave West Catholic a 14-7 lead. West Catholic defeated Menominee 27-14 in Saturday’s Division 5 final.
When West Catholic substituted Witham headed for the sideline with four teammates but stopped a half yard short and remained on the field blending in with the other players on the sideline. No Menominee player or coach noticed. West Catholic coach Dan Rohn said he spoke with officials before the game informing them that he might use the trick play.
On replay it appeared the head official started the play clock before the substitutions were made, and 11 players were between the numbers (10, 20, 30 and so on), making it a legal play.
Eight teams won titles but all 16 teams were winners at Ford Field and no one said it better than Detroit Loyola junior linebacker Darryl Clemens after his team lost to Ishpeming, 22-12 in the Division 7 final.
“There are no losers,” Clemens said. “There’s a winner and another team that learns. We just learn from this.”
A look ahead
Loyola, with just 10 seniors on this year’s team, is sure to be in the mix of teams with a good chance of returning to Ford Field.
Brother Rice, with quarterback Alex Malzone and receiver-defensive back Grant Perry returning will be one of the top teams in the Catholic League, as will Warren DeLaSalle, which will return more than half of its starters.
DeWitt started eight underclassmen on offense including one of the state’s top quarterbacks, Jacob Johnson. Coach Rob Zimmerman must replace his top receivers but that is a position DeWitt is never weak, in numbers or talent.
And if Muskegon can find a capable replacement for quarterback Deshaun Thrower it could be the team to beat in Division 2 on the state’s west side.
For a change, attendance rises
The attendance for the two days was 52,413, up from 46,197 last year. Saturday’s attendance was 24,468 and we have the large contingent from Clarkston to thank for that.
The increase over last year is a bit misleading. Last year’s attendance is the lowest since 1989, the year before the classifications expanded from four to eight. And this year’s is the second lowest.
Attendance hit a peak (71,156) in 1995. The numbers remained strong in 2005 (67,549) and in 2008 (66,160) but declined over the next four years, until this year.