Warren De La Salle is turning out to be the class of the Catholic League, following a pair of lopsided wins to start the Central Division schedule.
De La Salle also is showing it will be a threat to repeat as Division 2 state champion, hoping it gets another crack at No. 1 Detroit King following a season-opening 12-10 loss when it failed to protect a 10-0 second-half lead.
There’s no doubt De La Salle has bounced back from that loss. It opened the Catholic League slate with a 30-6 win over Birmingham Brother Rice, then dominated defending Division 3 state champion Orchard Lake St. Mary’s on its field Friday, 31-8.
And, No. 4 De La Salle has gotten the job done without starting running back Allen Stritzinger (ankle), who rushed for 1,356 yards and 20 TDs his sophomore year to gain an offer from Michigan.
Stritzinger suffered an ankle injury in the opening minutes against Brother Rice and has yet to return.
With Stritzinger unable to go, De La Salle coach Paul Verska turned to senior safety Tru Wilson and he has delivered as a workhorse back.
In the win over Brother Rice, Wilson broke loose for 155 yards on 22 carries, scoring two touchdowns. He followed that up Friday with 116 yards on 26 carries and a TD.
Wilson will try to continue that strong play when De La Salle hosts No. 18 Detroit Loyola, the defending Division 7 state champ, Friday night at Wayne State.
“Tru Wilson’s a football player and he’s no slouch,” Verska said. “He carried the mail last week and this week. He’s a great player, he’s a competitor and a good kid.”
Said De La Salle quarterback Josh Wilk: “He’s one of the best. No one knows him because he hasn’t gotten a lot of reps in the last few years, but he’s the real deal.”
Wilson just wants to play and he’s been on the field a lot now, competing at safety, running back and on special teams.
“I just do whatever the team asks me to do,” said Wilson, who is being recruited by several schools, including Air Force. “My offensive line has been doing a great job the last two games since Allen’s been out and they’ve really stepped it up.”
Wilk also is playing well in his first year as the starting quarterback. He has displayed the ability to run with the ball, just like Joey Garbarino did a year ago, as well as throw it with great accuracy.
Kyle Thomas has been outstanding during his senior year at quarterback for Walled Lake Western, but he is still without a Division 1 offer.
Thomas, a 6-foot, 170-pound dual-threat quarterback, has completed nearly 60 percent of his attempts, throwing for 1,200 yards and 14 TDs while running for nearly 400 to help Western get off to a 5-0 start.
Thomas has a QB rating of 119, up from 87 a year ago when he completed 47 percent of his passes (1,560 yards, 16 TDs, 6 INTs).
“He makes something out of nothing,” Western coach Mike Zdebski said. “He has really good vision and understands what the defense is doing. He’s made smart decisions and minimized his turnovers.”
Zdebski is shocked Thomas is without an offer.
“It doesn’t make sense,” he said. “He doesn’t have the pre-required measurables of what they feel the size of a quarterback should be instead of ‘Is he a winner, does he have the talent to play the position?’ You need to take a chance on a quarterback who doesn’t have (measurables) or you wouldn’t have a Doug Flutie or Russell Wilson.”
Thomas will try to continue his strong play when Western (3-0 KLAA North) hosts Walled Lake Northern (4-1, 3-0) Friday.
Sanders living up to hype
After a 2,000-yard season his sophomore year for Canton, falling three yards shy of the school record, Markus Sanders came into this season saying he wanted to rush for 2,500.
And the 5-foot-7, 180-pound tailback just might do it. So far this year, Sanders is averaging 201 yards rushing (1,006 yards on 90 carries) for Canton (5-0, 3-0 KLAA South), ranked No. 12 in The News Super 20 poll.
“He’s played very well,” coach Tim Baechler said. “He has great vision and gains a lot of yards after first contact. Our entire offensive line and tight ends have played well, too.”
On Friday, Sanders goes up against Livonia Churchill (3-2, 2-1), a team he ran for a school-record 356 yards against in last year’s 56-21 district-final win. The Chiefs piled up a school-record 630 yards on the ground.
St. Clair Shores South Lake earned its statement win Friday with a thrilling 54-49 upset of a Marine City team which won the previous year’s MAC crossover game between the teams, 64-14.
South Lake improved to 5-0, after finishing 2-7 last season.
By the numbers
2,344 -- Yards passing by Detroit Cesar Chavez senior quarterback Omar Salih this season, including 404 and six TDs Friday in a 58-0 win over Dearborn Heights Star International
301 -- Yards rushed by Utica senior Kumehnnu Gwilly on 43 carries (6 TDs) in a 38-24 win over Warren Cousino.
24 -- Consecutive Tri-County Conference victories for Clinton following its 42-22 win over Morenci, setting a league record
17 -- TD passes by Chippewa Valley senior Patrick Briningstool, including four on Friday in a 34-30 comeback win over Warren Mott.
Top performer: Mathew Sexton, Clinton
The senior rushed for 266 yards and six touchdowns to lead Clinton to a 42-22 win over previously unbeaten Morenci.
“It was a great win. I’m most impressed with the total confidence and poise our team displayed, led by Steve (quarterback Glenn) during the final minutes of the game.”
-- Jamie Grignon, Lincoln Park coach, after his team battled back from a 35-22 deficit with five minutes left to defeat Melvindale, 38-35