Prep Insider: Rochester Adams father-sons act is a hit

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Rochester Hills — Rochester Adams is having success again on the football field and veteran head coach Tony Patritto is thrilled to be sharing it with his sons, who have been key performers for the Highlanders.

Mark Patritto, a 6-foot, 170-pound senior, plays receiver and safety and is one of the team’s captains. He also holds for extra points and returns punts.

After coming up short on making the state playoffs the past two years, Mark and his younger brother, Cole, have helped Adams to a 5-1 start. Cole plays receiver and cornerback.

“We got off to a good start, definitely the way we hoped my senior year would go,” said Mark, who had 12 receptions. “We just had a couple of rough years and since my dad’s been here in 2003 I’ve seen a lot of success and at the beginning of my high school, sophomore and junior year things didn’t go the way I had always hoped and thought they would.

“This year us seniors got the juniors together and said we have to come together and be closer and go out there and prove that this is not what Adams football is about. We’re historically a good team and we’re going to bring that back.

“Our goal is the state championship and we’re not afraid to talk about that. It’s our goal and we’re going to take things one day at a time. We have a lot of experience. I’ve been playing with most of these kids since junior football. ... Kyle (quarterback Wood) has four years of varsity experience and there’s a few of us that have three years of experience so this is definitely a special year.”

Mark recalls watching his father guide Adams to the Division 2 state championship as a young boy in 2003, then leading Adams to consecutive state semifinal appearances the next two years. He couldn’t wait until he had the opportunity to stand on the sidelines near his father when he became a teenager.

“I remember when I used to stand back in the corner of the end zone,” Mark said. “And, once he finally let me on the sideline, I was in eighth grade, finally let me on the sideline to see what it was all about. I definitely remember, didn’t miss any games, remember all the playoff runs and it started my dream to come here and do what the teams before me did.”

So, is there pressure playing for your father?

“I’d say yes, there’s extra pressure, but there’s also a lot of good to it,” Mark said. “He’s been coaching me longer than just high school, really since I was a young kid as well, so I’ve kind of gotten used to it. He expects the most out of me, but he’s also there to talk to me about some things that other kids don’t get to talk about at dinner at home so that’s a blessing.”

Yes, the Patritto family is all about football, especially during the weekends in the fall. And, Tony’s son Anthony is playing on Adams’ freshmen team.

“Pretty much every weekend is play Friday, come home and talk about that game, Saturday morning film with the whole team, then after film even more of a breakdown than the rest of the team gets at home,” Mark said. “Then, Saturdays and Sundays it’s all about watching football, talking about, ‘Hey, did you see what he did there?’ Showing me what not to do most of the times, but also showing some of the good things he sees.”

Tony is obviously pleased with his sons, key contributors in Adams’ triple option attack with four-year starter Kyle Wood throwing the ball well to a talented group of receivers.

“They are part of a great balanced offense and defense in terms of who contributes,” Tony said. “They play both ways. Mark plays wide receiver and safety and he is one of our captains. He holds for extra points and is our punt returner. He does a lot for us. He was our MVP as a junior because he does so many things for our team.

“Mark is a preferred walk-on status at Central and Western and then Hillsdale and some of the GLIAC schools are recruiting him. He’s a really good student, 3.9 student and has a 26 on his ACT.

“Cole plays slot and corner. He’s 5-10 and 160 pounds and is a tough kid. We play a lot of aggressive defense and he has to play man-to-man. He’s also our punt returner and scored on a 40-yard run against Rochester on his first varsity carry.”

Cole, who has scored four TDs, feels fortunate to be playing with his big brother and for his father.

“It’s pretty awesome,” Cole said. “We’ve been waiting for this for a long time, watching Adams as we’ve grown up so it’s pretty cool to finally be here.

“I just try to do my job on defense, be where I’m supposed to be at all times and not give up any big plays. I feel I run pretty good routes, have decent speed and find ways to get open. I just do whatever I can to help us win.

“My brother is a great player, has great hands and is very reliable. We go at, it’s a pretty fun rivalry when we go at it. I love playing with him.”

Mark and Cole are truly team players, which is one reason Adams is in the position it is in with a possible shot to make a deep playoff run, something the Highlanders did in 2013 when Wood took over as quarterback midway through the season and helped them reach the Division 1 regional final, where they fell to Clarkston.

“His ability to both run and throw makes him special and he’s really worked his craft as a passer, not just a thrower so he’s throwing the ball to spots,” Tony Patritto said of Wood, who is being recruited by Northwood, which runs a similar offense. “Plus, he makes great checks at the line of scrimmage, gets us out of bad plays. ...

“I’ve been coaching and known a lot of these kids since they were seven years old in the youth program. They are just good kids and there is great chemistry on our team which in high school football is so important. If the kids like each other and trust each other, it just makes the experience better for everybody and that’s win, lose or draw.”

Adams has a pair of outstanding linebackers in Steve Roncelli and 6-3, 240-pound Ben Petersmark, who doubles at left guard.

Roncelli, 5-10 and 175 pounds, is considered one of Adams’ strongest players, benching 340 pounds. He also has five TD catches from his receiver spot and nearly 50 tackles from his linebacker position.

And there’s three-star cornerback Vincent Gray, who has nine Division 1 offers, including Cincinnati, Syracuse, Central Michigan and Bowling Green.

“He plays the other corner and receiver as well and his technique (at defensive back) is insane,” Cole said. “He’s tall, lanky and very physical at the line. He has the speed to stay with any receiver and is a great leader, definitely teaches me things.”

Sounds like the Patritto family has a good thing going at Adams.

Adams takes on Birmingham Groves (6-0) in a crucial OAA White matchup Friday.

Nelson stands out in return

Three-star safety/quarterback Scotty Nelson returned to the field Friday, accounting for four TDs in U-D Jesuit’s 48-13 rout of St. Joseph, featuring Michigan-bound linebacker Corey Malone-Hatcher.

Nelson, who suffered an ankle injury in the season opener, returned a punt 65 yards for a TD and threw TD passes of 45, 66 and 55 yards.

“I was so excited to get back on the field,” Nelson said. “I always plan on having as big of an impact on the game as I can and I think that was a great representation of all the things I can do.”

Nelson, who has multiple Division 1 offers, including Michigan State, also had five tackles for U-D (4-1).

Nelson could once again run U-D’s offense against Warren DeLaSalle this Friday, with starting quarterback Mike Sims still recovering from a fractured ankle in the opener.

U-D piled up more than 500 total yards against St. Joseph with Elijah Collins running for 120 yards and two TDs.

Collins had an exciting day Friday, getting offers from Iowa State and Central Michigan.


Twitter @DavidGoricki