Detroit — Mike Weber showed why he is considered the top running back in the state, rushing for a career-high 404 yards and five touchdowns Saturday afternoon to lead Detroit Cass Tech to a 48-35 victory over Clinton Township Chippewa Valley in a Division 1 regional final.
"It was my last game (playing) at Cass Tech and I wanted to play my hardest and it showed," Weber said. "Our defense didn't play too well today and so I knew my line and I had to step up and score more points and we made it happen.
"The offensive line showed up big time and all I had to do was break a few tackles. This game right here, I'll remember the rest of my life. It's special."
Chippewa Valley coach Scott Merchant stepped in as Weber was talking to say, "Best player in the state of Michigan."
And, it turns out Weber needed every one of the yards … and TDs for No. 3 Cass Tech (12-0) to move on to next week's state semifinal against Saline (11-1).
After Marshall Mitchell intercepted a pass from Cass Tech sophomore Rodney Hall with five minutes left, Chippewa Valley had a chance to take the lead.
Trailing 40-35, junior Patrick Briningstool found Sean Bunting on fourth down, but Bunting was stopped at midfield, a yard short of the first down.
Then, Weber broke loose for 44 yards and his fifth TD to put the game away with 2:14 left.
Weber, a Michigan commit, now has 2,130 yards and 28 TDs for the season. He had 141 yards and three TDs to help Cass Tech open up a 21-7 lead just into the second quarter, breaking numerous tackles en route to scoring runs of six, 50 and 45 yards.
Still, Cass Tech couldn't shake Chippewa Valley, which had a strong run after starting the season with two losses in its first three games and suffering 10 season-ending injuries.
Weber needed to drink some mustard to get rid of cramps late in the first half to keep himself on the field.
"I was cramping up earlier in the first half and my Dad, he always gave me the mustard trick and the pickles," Weber said. "The cramps went away and I just followed my blocks. It felt good, walking off the field for the last time after a win like this."
Briningstool, the starter since Week No. 4, completed 22 of 44 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns for Chippewa Valley.
Briningstool found Bunting for a 27-yard TD pass to pull within 21-14, then after Hall scored on a 1-yard run for Cass Tech, Briningstool connected with Stefan Claiborne on a 40-yard pass to set up D'Angelo Washington's 1-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to 28-21 just before halftime.
After Weber scored on a 76-yard run for a 34-21 cushion with 4:23 left in the third, Washington cut the deficit to 34-28 with a 3-yard run for his third TD of the game. He finished with 60 yards on 16 carries.
Hall hit Sean Hodges for a 27-yard TD with 11 minutes left for a 40-28 lead, but Chippewa Valley quickly answered two minutes later with Briningstool's 9-yard TD toss to Bunting.
Cass Tech threatened again, advancing to Chippewa Valley's 25 before Mitchell's interception, but Bunting was stopped short of the first down near midfield. Then, Weber ended all hopes for Chippewa Valley's comeback bid with his final TD.
"He's the best running back I've ever coached against," said Merchant.
"A lot of people said we'd have no chance and we'd lose by 35 points, which I don't think was very fair to my kids. They've played hard all year and we've played well and I think we proved we deserved to be here and we gave them a great game. I just told our kids I couldn't be more proud of them."