Warren De La Salle football coach Mike Giannone talks about his team's 41-7 loss to Muskegon on opening weekend Eric Coughlin, The Detroit News
Detroit — Warren De La Salle football may be back-to-back Division 2 champions, but Muskegon has its number.
For the second straight season, De La Salle lost to Muskegon in the Xenith Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State to open the season, this time a 41-7 drubbing.
“I know we’re really good,” Muskegon coach Shane Fairfield said. “We showed it tonight against a great program. We’re really excited that the team (Muskegon) played so well on defense. On offense, I didn’t know that we were going to put 41 (points) on the board, but I knew we had the ability to.”
Ohio State-commit Cameron Martinez was too much for De La Salle to handle on Friday night. The senior quarterback gashed the De La Salle defense to the tune of 182 yards on 21 carries with three touchdowns. Martinez struggled throwing but did chip in on the receiving end of things with a 12-yard catch.
“If I can come out here and get the win I’m fine with whatever happens,” Martinez said. “I think they (De La Salle) prepared for me well, especially after what happened last year. We do have young players all over, so when we were able to adjust, we were able to finish it out.”
Said Fairfield: “When you’re blocking for an Ohio State commit it brings a little more out of you. Sometimes you might take a play off, but now they know that all eyes are on them.”
Fairfield highlighted that Martinez still has a lot of skills that he hasn’t shown yet.
“His receiver ability,” Fairfield said. “As (backup quarterback Amari) Crowley gets more experience you’ll see Martinez catch the football, 50-50 balls, he’s a hawk. The dude can go get the football. You’re going to see him fly around on defense, and he’s a punt returner and kick returner. As the games start to get bigger, you’re going to see us get the most out of him before Ohio State gets him.”
Cameron Martinez talks about Muskegon's 41-7 win over Warren De La Salle. Eric Coughlin, The Detroit News
De La Salle, ranked No. 7 by The Detroit News, had trouble moving the ball all night, harassed by Muskegon senior linebacker Kolbe Lewis, sophomore cornerback Myles Watson, who snagged an interception, and junior linebacker Desjuan Lindsay.
Muskegon, ranked No. 6 by The News, took advantage of De La Salle fumbling on its first possession with a 1-yard touchdown plunge from Martinez to make it 7-0.
De La Salle got its only score on a fumble and penalty-aided drive in the second quarter. Junior running back Brett Stanley juked a defender near the line of scrimmage and bolted into the end zone from 17 yards out to tie it. Stanley finished with 44 yards rushing on five carries.
Muskegon answered right back with a sustained drive capped by a 2-yard scoring run from Martinez and then lengthened its lead just before the end of the first half when Martinez broke loose on the right side and outran De La Salle’s entire defense for a 62-yard touchdown run to make it 21-7.
In the third quarter, after a long kickoff return, senior Muskegon receiver Japrie Henderson scooted into the end zone from nine yards out, and the rout was on.
Late Muskegon touchdowns from senior wide receiver Tarran Walker and senior running back Tommy Watts put things officially out of reach.
“I’m hoping it’s an aberration,” De La Salle coach Mike Giannone said about his team’s performance. “Defensively, I thought we did some good things. We’re young, but so what? We’re going to have to grow up fast. It looked like we hadn’t even practiced. They even got here before us. We got beat in every aspect of the game. We’ll find the good things that we did, and we’ll be back, just like we have before.”
Eric Coughlin is a freelance writer.