Goricki's prep picks: O.L. St. Mary's girds for onslaught
Detroit News high school sports reporter Dave Goricki and assistant sports editor Craig Yuhas break down the Michigan high school state football finals matchups in all eight divisions.
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s is in the enviable position of trying to win its third consecutive Division 3 state championship Saturday night at Ford Field.
However, St. Mary's will have to play its best game of the season, facing No. 6 Muskegon, a team it defeated 7-0 for the title two years ago.
Don’t expect this one to be a 7-0 game. No, not with Muskegon having a number of explosive players, led by Virginia Tech-bound Kalil Pimpleton and receiver Jacory Sullivan.
And, St. Mary’s having a home run-hitting running back in junior RaShawn Allen who has rushed for nearly 2,000 yards to help St. Mary's average 45.5 points during its postseason run.
“It never gets old, it’s a great feeling,” said St. Mary's veteran head coach George Porritt, who's attempting to win a fourth state title in the last six years. “I think we’re going to have to score a few points because they can really score. We’re going to try and play great defense.”
On facing Pimpleton, Porritt said: “He has great reaction in everything he does, playing quarterback or the slot. He just sees any little lane and he has such a quick twitch getting up in those alleys that he’s hard to stop.”
Porritt is fortunate to have a defense that showcases five Division I players, including linebackers in Michigan-bound Josh Ross and Dwayne Chapman (Western Michigan), a 6-foot-2, 290-pound nose tackle in Ralph Holley (WMU) and defensive backs Shermond Dabney (Bowling Green) and Richard Bowens (Iowa State).
“We’re going to have to move the ball, be effective at running the ball so we can control the ball and obviously put points on the board to stay with them,” Porritt said. “Defensively, we have to try and contain them a bit. I know they’re going to have some big plays, but we have to try and not let them get in the end zone.”
Pick: Muskegon by 4.
No. 1 Detroit Cass Tech (13-0) vs. No. 3 Detroit Catholic Central (13-0), Saturday, 1: This should be a classic matchup between Cass Tech, the PSL champion going up against Catholic Central, the Catholic League champs.
Cass Tech showcases quarterback Rodney Hall and five-star receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, joining forces for a two-point conversion pass for the difference in a 43-42 regional final win at Saline, then on a 20-yard TD pass in the final minute of a 32-28 semifinal victory over Utica Eisenhower.
Hall is thrilled to be playing in the title game after missing last year’s state championship game — a 41-27 loss to Romeo — due to an ankle injury.
Catholic Central is a similar position following a leg injury to sophomore quarterback Austin Brown during the first half of its 17-0 semifinal win over Romeo.
“When something like that takes place you just have to adapt our offense the best we can,” said Catholic Central coach Tom Mach of Brown’s injury, saying Marco Genrich would be replacing Brown if he can’t go. “When a bad thing happens a good thing might come from it, you never know, so we'll just adapt our offense the best we can.
“We watched them (Cass Tech) play and they put a lot of pressure on your corners and we’re going to have to try and take away what they want to do. Their athletes are very good and they run the ball well, just put a lot of pressure on you.”
Pick: Cass Tech by 12.