Detroit — Defending Division 2 champion Warren De La Salle was out to prove that last week’s loss to Detroit Catholic Central might have been a fluke.
For the second year in a row, De La Salle defeated Catholic Central (6-3, 2-2) in the Prep Bowl Final, this time cruising to a 24-6 victory at Ford Field on Saturday.
On its second drive, De La Salle’s offense put together a 57-yard drive, punctuated by a 1-yard quarterback sneak by Nolan Schulz. His score was the only one in a half that featured suffocating defense by both teams, reminiscent of their Week 8 matchup, which C.C. won 10-7.
After a 50-yard kickoff return by Brett Stanley brought De La Salle to the C.C. 45 to start the second half, De La Salle faced a fourth-and-4 but converted as Schulz picked up 10 yards on a keeper. Faced with another fourth down, running back Evan Valliancourt ran up the middle for a 22-yard touchdown, pushing De La Salle’s lead to 14-0 with 8:30 remaining in the third quarter.
Despite giving up a late touchdown, De La Salle's defense was smothering, constantly sending pressure at C.C. quarterback Marco Genrich, causing him to underthrow his receivers.
Following its win, De La Salle coach Mike Giannone said he takes the blame for the Week 8 lost to C.C. and feels his team was better prepared for Saturday's matchup.
“I’ll take that one on me cause I didn’t have them ready,” he said. “I thought today we were more than prepared and ready to go.”
Schulz steered De La Salle’s second-half surge, culminating in a 70-yard touchdown run after he shook off several C.C. tacklers.
“Were those called plays? No, he’s just an athlete,” Giannone said of Schulz. “Sometimes you put the ball in your best player’s hands — you try to do that as much as possible, and he made things happen.”
Schulz finished the night 7-of-12 passing for 138 yards to go along with 109 yards rushing on 14 carries.
“Coaches taught us up this week. The line executed, everybody executed,” the senior quarterback said.
Giannone said the victory restores confidence in his team, which feels like it can make a deep playoff run similar to last year.
“This win perpetuates that momentum, and that momentum is huge in high school football," he said. “It’s a big thing and if we get some guys healthy, I think we can make some noise."
By reaching six or more wins, both C.C. and De La Salle have earned a playoff spot.
Schulz, who was not listed as the starter at the beginning of the season, said he likes his team’s chances in the playoffs.
“I don’t think anybody can stop us. Offense, defense — the defense is the real deal,” he said.
Dwjuan Frazier is a freelance writer.