The Division 1 state champion and the Division 3 state champion met on the red turf at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s on Friday, Sept. 21, with the host Eaglets coming out on top the old-fashioned way — with a strong running game and a solid defense.
St. Mary’s knocked off No. 1-ranked and previously undefeated Detroit Cass Tech, 13-6, to stretch its winning streak to four games.
It was a game tailor-made for St. Mary’s new red field, as there was a constant drizzling rain under the lights and a load of attention from across the state for a clash of titans.
St. Mary’s had averaged 49 points in its last three games while surrendering an average of only 5 points, while the Cass Tech Technicians had had given up an average of only 10 points in four games while scoring an average of 41 points.
“It was a ball-control game and we played good defense. It was a great atmosphere,” said St. Mary’s Head Coach George Porritt. “Frank Janosz and Jeff Phillips had a great game plan and the kids were disciplined.”
The first quarter was scoreless before quarterback Matt Linehan scored on a 5-yard touchdown run to help put the Eaglets (4-1) up 7-0 at halftime, after the Technicians (4-1) turned the ball over on a botched punt attempt at their own 35-yard line.
In the third quarter, Grant Niemiec scored on a 4-yard touchdown run to give St. Mary’s a 13-0 lead.
The Technicians finally got on the scoreboard in the third quarter when Jaryu Campbell threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jourdan Lewis to cut the Eaglets’ lead to 7, but that would be the final scoring play of the night.
St. Mary’s kept the ball on the ground for most of the night behind the strong running of Niemiec and Parker McInnis.
Niemiec finished with 126 yards rushing on 30 carries.
Jalen Watts-Jackson also had two interceptions for St. Mary’s.
Cass Tech had come into last Friday’s game with a three-game winning streak over Detroit Catholic League opponents, including a victory over Novi Detroit Catholic Central to win the Division 1 state championship on the same day the Eaglets won the Division 3 state title.
St. Mary’s will have little time to celebrate as it will next face the Division 2 state champion, Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice, on the road on Saturday, Sept. 29 to resume its Catholic League schedule.
“We have to get over this quick because it’s a league game that’s coming up,” Porritt said.