De La Salle's Danna returns with a vengeance

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Mike Danna felt the pain.

It wasn't the broken leg he suffered in Week 1 that hurt.

It was not being able to help his Warren De La Salle teammates during a three-game losing streak — all close setbacks to Birmingham Brother Rice, Orchard Lake St. Mary's and Dearborn Fordson.

"It was so tough to sit out, thinking, 'Why me, why did this have to happen to me so my senior year was taken away?' " said Danna, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound defensive end. "It hurt to watch my team struggle and lose those close games when I knew I could help … if I didn't have that broken leg."

But Danna is back and making up for lost time.

And he'll get his shot at Brother Rice, the three-time defending Division 2 state champion, in Saturday's regional final at Berkley High. Brother Rice has won 33 consecutive games.

"It feels great to be back on the field again," Danna said. "I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to play Brother Rice and get the chance to make up for lost time."

Danna showed how disruptive a force he can be, with six tackles, five for loss, and four sacks in a district championship victory over Detroit East English Village last week. He also knocked down three passes.

"I feel my pass-rushing ability is my strength," said Danna, who has 40 tackles in six games. "I feel I can get to the quarterback with my strength and athleticism."

De La Salle's defense gave Brother Rice quarterback Alex Malzone (Michigan) a beating in the first meeting, but Malzone showed his toughness by finishing 14-for-20 for 203 yards and three touchdowns.

With Danna back, De La Salle's defense should be tougher, and allows coach Paul Verska to return four-star recruit Eric Rogers to linebacker and Mike Ostrowski to the secondary.

"(Danna) means so much to our team, our defense," Verska said. "He's a good pass rusher and limits a lot of things opponents can do with his presence coming off the edge.

"It's really amazing just how good he is since he's only played 3½ years of organized ball."