Detroit — Grand Rapids Catholic Central sophomore quarterback Joey Silveri ruined Detroit Country Day’s party Friday night at Ford Field.
Country Day was trying to win its first state championship in 20 years and attempting to go unbeaten for the first time in school history, but Silveri wouldn’t have any of it in leading Catholic Central to a dominating 44-0 victory in the Division 4 final.
“There’s not a lot you can say when something like that happens, it’s a very disappointing end to what was a really good season," Country Day coach Dan MacLean said. "I’m proud of our guys, which I always am, and hopefully once we recover a little bit, it will give us some impetus to go in and work hard.”
Silveri couldn’t have been better, leading Catholic Central (13-1) to TD drives on its first three possessions to set the tempo, then finding Drew Gommesen for a 23-yard TD pass to open up a 24-0 lead with 1:23 left in the second quarter.
Silveri put together a full day's work in a half with his first half stat line reading 11-of-17 passing for 166 yards and three TDs, also rushing for 89 yards (eight carries) and a TD.
Silveri accounted for 255 total yards through two quarters while Catholic Central’s defense physically dominated Country Day (13-1), limiting it to 55 first-half yards and just 16 rushing yards on 20 attempts.
“He’s obviously very good and they have a good supporting cast," MacLean said of Silveri. "They are a really sound football team. They play very hard and play together well and they have that tall receiver (Williams) and they exploited that matchup on us early and we couldn’t get out from under it.”
Country Day’s defense had limited opponents to just 5.1 points this season.
It was the second time Catholic Central defeated Country Day in the Division 4 title game in the last four years, earning a 10-7 win in 2016.
It was also Catholic Central’s third state championship in the last four years, going 51-4 during that stretch.
No doubt, 6-foot-4, 185-pound junior Jace Williams was Silveri’s primary target and he should be, having several Power Five offers, including Michigan State, Nebraska, Kentucky and Boston College.
Williams tied a finals-game record with three TD receptions.
“It’s great, you’re just throwing that 50-50 ball, but it’s really not a 50-50 ball because you know he’s going to go up and get the ball no matter what," Silveri said of having Williams to work with.
On Catholic Central’s opening series, Silveri connected on 4-of-5 passes for 40 yards, including a 15-yard TD pass to Williams in the left corner of the end zone with 4:31 left in the opening quarter.
Then, Dan Southerington intercepted an Ahlon Mitchell pass to give Silveri a short field to work with at the Country Day 14, and on the first play Silveri lofted a perfectly thrown ball in the left corner of the end zone for Williams who came down with it while Country Day defensive back Brandon Mann tried, unsuccessfully, to wrestle the ball away from him.
“We were just fighting for the ball and I came out on top," Williams said. "All year I’ve been working for this moment on the big stage and it paid off.”
After Catholic Central’s defense forced a three-and-out, Silveri again had a short field to work with, getting the ball at his own 40 and used a quick two play drive to open up an 18-0 lead with 18 seconds left in the first when he broke loose for a 53-yard TD run.
“It was a great confidence boost for our team and we knew our defense would play great," Silveri said of getting the big lead early.
"Then, we got the short field (after interception) and that gives you momentum, makes it easier to score and then to go up two scores like that, that quickly it just demoralizes the other team and makes the game that much easier.”
Country Day moved the ball early in the second quarter, but Mitchell was pressured on a fourth and 7 play at the Catholic Central 30, forcing an incompletion to end the threat.
Silveri went back to work later in the quarter when he directed an 84-yard drive, connecting on 3-of-5 passes for 84 yards, including a 48-yard toss to Malachi Love to get things started and the 23-yard TD strike to Gommesen to end the drive.
Silveri and Co. continued to have their way with Country Day in the second half, scoring on its opening drive of the third quarter to open up a 32-0 advantage with Silveri scoring on a 1-yard run, then pushing the lead to 38-0 when defensive lineman Jake Passinault returned an interception 17 yards for a TD after receiver Danny MacLean took a pass from Mitchell and attempted a pass while taking not only a hit from defensive back Nolan Zeigler, but also another from linebacker Isaiah Hicks on the play.
Catholic Central held a 370-57 advantage in total yards through three quarters while getting off just three more plays (37-34).
Silveri threw his fourth TD pass with 10:10 remaining, finding Williams for a 10-yard scoring toss in the left corner of the end zone for a 44-0 lead.
Silveri finished the night 15-of-22 for 236 yards with four TDs, also rushing for 140 yards and two TDs. Love had six receptions for 90 yards and Williams 62 yards on four catches and the three TDs.
All games at Ford Field
Division 8: Reading 33, Beal City 6
Division 2: Muskegon Mona Shores 35, Detroit King 26
Division 6: Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 7, Maple City Glen Lake 0
Division 4: Grand Rapids Catholic Central 44, Detroit Country Day 0
Division 7: Pewamo-Westphalia (13-0) vs. Jackson Lumen Christi (12-0), 10 a.m. (FSD)
Division 1: Brighton (11-2) vs. Davison (11-2), 1 p.m. (FSD)
Division 5: Lansing Catholic (12-1) vs. Almont (13-0), 4:30 p.m. (FSD Plus)
Division 3: Muskegon (13-0) vs. River Rouge (12-1), 7:30 p.m. (FSD Plus)