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DAVE GORICKI

Goricki: Dakota QB dazzles while taking down St. Mary's

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Macomb Dakota quarterback Brett Droski brought back memories of Brett Favre in the season opener Thursday, escaping sacks and improvising to make things happen to lift the Cougars to a thrilling 35-28 upset win over two-time defending Division 3 state champion Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.

Macomb Dakota quarterback Brett Droski (5) drops back to pass.

Not only did St. Mary’s entered as two-time defending state champs, the  team featured five Division 1-caliber players on defense, including Michigan-bound linebacker Josh Ross.

Droski, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound senior, wasn’t intimidated. He fought off sacks, rolled outside and threw passes to keep drives alive or for tourchdowns, including three scoring strikes to 6-4 senior Jaylen Hall of 29, 52 and 74 yards.

“He did that at times last year, but not at the  extent he did against St. Mary’s,” Dakota first-year head coach Greg Baur said. “He’s at his best when he’s freelancing or playing like its backyard football.”

Droski has only one offer, from Saginaw Valley State, but expect that to change as he continues to show his talent and leadership. He split time starting with senior Antonio Patrico last year before taking over the job for good in Week 7. He threw for little over 1,000 yards to help lead Dakota to the Division 1 regional final, a loss to Detroit Cass Tech.

“It’s harder to lead when you’re just a junior, the seniority thing, but now I’m a senior and I’m loving that role as leader,” said Droski, who finished a career-best 10-of-15 for 245 yards and four TDs in the win over St. Mary’s. “Last year, I tried to scramble a lot, so I pretty much worked on my footwork and arm strength during the offseason.”

Now, Droski can scramble and throw the ball deep, which he showed against St. Mary’s. Also, it helps when you have a receiver in Hall, who stands 6-4, weighs 160 and runs a 4.55 in the 40.

“(Hall) was good last year, just underrated and he can run away from a defender,” Droski said. “On that 50-yarder (52-yard TD strike), he got behind the defender and was waving his arms, really hard to miss at 6-4. He can outjump and outrun guys. He makes my job easy.”

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On the 74-yard connection to Hall to open a 28-0 lead, Droski hit him  in stride and he used his speed to outrun defenders.

And, Droski has more weapons to work with, including Evan Sivec who caught a 4-yard TD pass and returned a punt 75 yards for a TD.

Dakota could make a long postseason run. The school won consecutive Division 1 state titles in 2006 and ’07 under Mike Giannone, who had Baur on his staff as defensive coordinator.

“We have great team chemistry, no issues, we’re all pretty much best friends,” Droski said. “Coach Baur knows the game so well. Everyone loves Coach Baur. He’ll do anything for his players.”

King pays tribute to Harvel

Four-star cornerback/receiver Ambry Thomas said prior to the season that King would be surprising people after losing several Division 1 players from last year’s Division 2 state championship team. Then the team was dealt even a tougher blow with the loss of Dale Harvel, who suffered a fatal heart attack last month.

“We’re looking to repeat, go 14-and-0,” Thomas said prior to the season opener. “It’s going to be even better this year because we’re a younger team, and with our coach gone everybody thinks we’re going to fall off and all, but we’re just going to come back and fight harder.

“His (Harvel’s) last words to me was about how he wanted this season to go. He wants us to work hard and play hard. This is still his team. so it’s still him. He’s in our heart and he’s going to live through us and we’re just going to ball.”

Well, Thomas backed us his words Saturday at Wayne State, helping lead King to a dominating 39-0 win over then-No. 5 Southfield A&T and its standout sophomore quarterback Sam Johnson.

King honored Harvel by wearing special jerseys. The players wore their numbers, Thomas’ 13, but each also had Harvel’s name on the back of their jerseys. A moment of silence was also held before the game, then the players showed what they had learned from him, a performance which would have made him proud.

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King head coach Tyrone Spencer named Dequan Finn starting quarterback and he responded by finding Thomas for a 34-yard TD.

Thomas had three receptions for 111 yards in the first half, including a 62-yard connection on a screen to the 4 to set up another score on a third-and-10 play.

Finn threw for 139 yards and a pair of TDs and senior running back Kevin Willis had 20 carries for 161 yards and four TDs, three of those rushing, along with Finn’s 13-yard TD pass to give King a 27-0 cushion with 2:46 left in the half.

While King looks to be a legitimate threat to repeat as state champs, Southfield A&T has a lot of work to do. Johnson had six passes dropped in the first half alone, several in the opening quarter which ended drives and momentum.

Fordson's Elzayat shows great leadership

Dearborn Fordson rallied from a pair of 21-point deficits in the first half to defeat Canton, 40-35, Friday night at Wayne State.

Fordson’s 10th-year head coach Walker Zaban credits senior quarterback Hamze Elzayat for his leadership to get the job done.

“He struggled early, missing his first five passes," Zaban said. "We were down (28-7) at halftime and he was calm in the locker room, telling his teammates ‘Don’t worry, we’ll be back,’ and then he backed it up and led the way.

“We felt he’s capable of having that type of game, he’s shown flashes of it before. He has speed, runs the ball well and we roll him out so he can get some quick hitters.”

Zaban knew he had a winner in Elzayat after he threw for 1,850 yards and rushed for another 500 to lead Fordson to a state playoff spot a year ago.

Zaban said he can’t recall Fordson coming back from a 21-point deficit before to defeat a quality team like Canton.

Elzayat came back after missing his first five attempts to complete 19 passes, throwing for 300 yards and three TDs, including a 57-yard strike to Slay Shajrah for the game-winner to cap off an 80-yard drive after Canton took a 35-34 lead minutes earlier.

Elzayat also rushed for 150 yards and two TDs in Fordson’s spread offense.

Top performer

Cody White, Sr., WR, Walled Lake Western

White, subbing for injured quarterback Johnny Tracy, was 10-of-13 passing for 171 yards and 4 TDs, rushing for 33 yards and a TD in one half of work to give Western a 41-0 halftime lead en route to 41-14 win over Farmington.

Quotable

“He has a nice demeanor and knows what to look for in reads, can see the field because he’s tall (6-3) and can run so I wasn’t surprised at all with his performance at quarterback,” Walled Lake Western coach Mike Zdebski on Cody White moving from receiver to quarterback.

By the numbers

235 – All-purpose yards for Macomb Dakota receiver Jaylen Hall in a 35-28 win over two-time defending Division 3 state champion Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, including TD catches of 29, 52 and 74 yards.

34 – Points scored by Muskegon in the second quarter of its 51-14 rout of Ann Arbor Pioneer Saturday at the Big House.

5 – TDs by Muskegon senior Kalil Pimpleton in a 51-14 win over Ann Arbor Pioneer, including two passing, two rushing and one receiving.

3 – Times Utica Eisenhower stopped Plymouth on fourth-down plays while Plymouth gambled from its own territory during the second half of Eisenhower’s 28-7 win.

2 – Special teams TDs scored in second half by East Kentwood’s Keenan Williamson, an 84-yard punt return and a 96-yard kickoff return in a 31-24 win over Farmington Hills Harrison.