Detroit Catholic Central quarterback Declan Byle talks about his team's 7-3 victory over Birmingham Brother Rice in the 75th Annual Boys Bowl. Eric Coughlin, The Detroit News
Novi — The rain came steadily but the points did not in the 75th Annual Boys Bowl meeting between Detroit Catholic Central and Birmingham Brother Rice.
Thrust into the starting spot at quarterback after only throwing one pass all season for Catholic Central (3-2, 1-0 Catholic League Central) was sophomore Declan Byle, who went 7-for-13 for 125 yards and threw the decisive touchdown in Sunday's 7-3 victory.
“I was excited for our seniors,” Byle said. “I just wanted to play for them mostly. I was a little nervous yesterday and before the game, but once you get on the field it’s all football. This rivalry is everything. All games are important, but for this week all the alumni come back, and it feels special.”
Catholic Central coach Dan Anderson decided to make the switch at quarterback after Byle had a better week of practice than regular starter Jack Beno.
“We had a long week and we decided to make it a competition between him (Byle) and Jack," Anderson said. "They both did a nice job, but we felt more comfortable with Declan going as starter. He did a nice job for us today. It wasn’t easy. They’ve got a great defense. I thought they did a great job running us down the field.”
Brother Rice (4-1, 1-1) had only allowed an average of six points coming into the game, but a 50-yard catch-and-run touchdown by Catholic Central’s Sam Dersa in the first half was too much for Brother Rice to overcome with the rainy conditions.
Dersa caught the Byle pass coming across the middle, slipped a tackle and jetted down the left sideline to the roaring approval of the Catholic Central crowd for the game’s only touchdown. It was Dersa’s only catch.
“Right when I caught it I looked upfield and saw green grass,” Dersa said. “I came from the other side of the field, and normally it doesn’t get thrown to me on that play, but today I was just open. Me and Declan connect well at practice. First start on varsity and he played a hell of a game. He had a great week of practice and prepared really well.”
Detroit Catholic Central Sam Dersa talks about his winning, 50-yard touchdown reception that gave his team a four-point victory over Brother Rice Eric Coughlin, The Detroit News
Catholic Central is known for its aggressive defensive line, and it showed up once again to lead Catholic Central to its fifth straight victory over Brother Rice.
Brother Rice senior quarterback Greg Piscopink scuffled, finishing 5-for-22 for 59 yards. He was also harassed into two interceptions by Catholic Central senior defensive back Easton St. Clair, including one that sealed the game with under one minute left.
“Our defense worked really hard all week,” Dersa said. “This team’s a passing team, and we haven’t had to deal with that this entire year. We worked the pass game all week.”
The run game didn’t provide much help for Brother Rice, only netting 63 yards on 28 attempts.
“Offensively, we tried to throw the ball,” Brother Rice coach Adam Korzeniewski said. “We had some dropped passes. Our quarterback couldn’t quite get into sequence with his receivers, so our passing game, we certainly struggled there. I think running the ball has been an issue at times and it was again in this game, too. We were pigeonholed into only being able to throw the ball.
“We wanted this game badly and we’re a really tight bunch. St. Mary’s is coming on Saturday night and that’s a big rivalry for us, too. We get to sulk for 24 hours, credit to C.C., and then we’ve got to get right back at it.”
Brother Rice’s only points on the day came from a 37-yard field goal by senior kicker Jimmy Phillips in the second quarter.
Eric Coughlin is a freelance writer.