Goricki’s prep picks: De La Salle defense on a roll

David Goricki
The Detroit News

It would be safe to say Warren De La Salle is entering its Division 2 regional final against Oak Park at Wayne State Friday night on a roll, coming off a pair of districts wins without allowing a point.

De LaSalle’s defense has allowed a combined 20 points in its last four games, including 20-6 and 35-14 victories over Detroit Catholic Central to close the regular season and earn the Catholic League championship.

Catholic Central will also be playing for a regional championship Friday night when it travels to Canton.

De La Salle, 9-2 and ranked No. 7 in The News Super 20 poll, blanked Ferndale 46-0 in a pre-district game before shutting out Port Huron Northern in the district title game, 50-0.

Now De La Salle and its junior defensive back Josh DeBerry will have a much bigger test going up against Oak Park quarterback Dwan Mathis — a Michigan State commit — and a huge offensive line anchored by Kentucky-bound tackle Marquan McCall and 6-foot-4, 260-pound sophomore guard Justin Rogers who already owns offers from Ohio State, Michigan State, Tennessee and several others.

Oak Park – 9-2 and ranked No. 20 – will try to earn its first regional title after defeating De La Salle’s Catholic League rival, Birmingham Brother Rice 34-14 in a district final. De La Salle last won a regional title in 2014 when it went on to win the state championship.

“In order for us to win we will have to be able to maintain both the offense and defensive lines,” second-year De La Salle coach Mike Giannone said. “We have to limit their big plays on first down and match their physicality.”

Pick: De LaSalle by 6.

Other games, all at 7 p.m. Friday:

Detroit Catholic Central (7-4) at Canton (10-1): Canton is riding the momentum of a 10-game winning streak and should be loaded with confidence following its 28-25 upset of No. 1 Belleville on the road last Friday.

Look for Canton’s explosive running game to play at a high level, especially with Catholic Central’s talented linebacker Isaac Darkangelo sidelined by an injury.

Expect Canton senior linebacker Lou Baechler to continue his strong play despite playing with a cast on his broken arm. He returned an interception for a TD in the pre-district win over Saline, then caught the winning TD pass on fourth down against Belleville.

Pick: Canton by 8.

West Bloomfield (9-2) at Utica Eisenhower (11-0): Utica Eisenhower’s defense has played well in district wins over Utica (52-0) and Rochester Adams (10-6), but it will need to be at its best to slow down Bowling Green-bound quarterback Bryce Veasley and Wisconsin-bound receivers Taj Mustapha and A.J. Abbott.

Jack Morris has done a solid job while replacing injured Max Wittwer at quarterback for Eisenhower, but West Bloomfield will be coming off its first regional title in program history.

Pick: West Bloomfield by 2.

Detroit News high school picks: Regionals

Detroit Cass Tech (8-2) at Clinton Township Chippewa Valley (10-1): Chippewa Valley has averaged nearly 42 points since its season-opening 20-17 win over Lake Orion, but can it keep its high-powered offense running at the same level against a Cass Tech defense loaded with Division 1 talent, including WMU-bound defensive end Andre Carter, Kentucky-bound linebacker DeAndre Square and four-star cornerback Kalon Gervin?

Fans could only hope the teams can duplicate the excitement from the last time they played in the 2014 regional final, when Cass Tech and Mike Weber came out on top, 48-35.

Pick: Chippewa Valley by 1 (OT)