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For DeKeyser, Abdelkader, bragging rights on the line

Ted Kulfan
The Detroit News

Detroit — They haven't figured out a wager yet, but there will be one.

Justin Abdelkader (Muskegon Mona Shores) and Danny DeKeyser (Warren De La Salle) will have something on the line when their high schools square off Friday for the Division 2 state high school football championship.

The championship is 1 p.m. Friday at Ford Field. Neither Red Wings player will be able to attend, as the Red Wings are playing in New Jersey that evening.

But you can bet the phones will be busy with updates.

De La Salle (10-3) advanced to the finals after defeating Southfield, 31-7. Mona Shores (12-1) advanced after defeating Farmingtonn Hills Harrison, 25-24.

"It's great, playing against Abby's school," DeKeyser said. "It's kind of unique."

That either team has even reached this point of the schedule is surprising.

De La Salle was hampered with injuries the first half of the season and has gotten stronger as players returned.

"You see teams in the regular season who may have been healthy all year and get into the playoffs and get knocked out in the first round," DeKeyser said. "Then, you see teams who squeak in and have had injury problems and they get healthy and get on a roll.

"That's the way it is."

DeKeyser doesn't think he knows any families on the current roster, but remains friends going back to his years at De La Salle and definitely keeps current with De La Salle teams.

Abdelkader spends his summers in Muskegon, knows some of the families, and his parents still live in the Mona Shores district.

On top of that, his sister Jamie is a middle school teacher in the district.

"Lots of familes I know from around the area, and then with my sister, she's really familiar with what is going on," Abdelkader said. "It's really exciting. I didn't know Danny went to De La Salle until I found out they were in the semifinals and there was a chance of playing each other.

"It's pretty unique."

De La Salle has had a powerful program for many years, reaching the state finals as recently as 2008, but for Mona Shores, this is its first trip.

"We weren't as good in high school, the team has come a long way since we played," said Abdelkader, who was a quarterback his freshman and sophomore years before devoting all of his time to hockey. "My buddies were playing it and that's how I got into it. It was a lot of fun."

Datsyuk out again

Pavel Datsyuk (groin) will miss his fourth consecutive game but appears close to retuning.

Datsyuk said he wants to make sure he's completely healthy. He said he doesn't want to rush to get back in, and then aggravate the injury and miss games again, as happened this previous time.

"I don't want to come back every second game," Datsyuk said. "I want to be more careful and be ready (when I return)."