Orchard Lake St. Mary’s had little time to celebrate a victory over last year’s Division 1 state champion the previous week, as it had to face the Division 2 state champion in its next game on the road.
But the Eaglets were up to the challenge as they defeated Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice, 24-14, in a Catholic League Central Division matchup at Berkley High School on Saturday, Sept. 29.
St. Mary’s (5-1 overall, 2-0 in the Catholic League Central) has now won five straight games after its opening week defeat at the hands of Muskegon and is now one win away from clinching a state playoff berth. The Eaglets were coming off defeating Detroit Cass Tech at home back on Sept. 21.
“We’re very focused because we know that if we don’t focus on Brother Rice, we won’t do well,” St. Mary’s Head Coach George Porritt said. “We’ve got good, hard running backs and a good offensive line and we kept grinding.”
Paul Graham kicked a 39-yard field goal in the first quarter for the Eaglets, who then recovered a fumble in Warriors’ territory before Grant Niemiec scored on a 1-yard touchdown run in the second quarter for a 10-0 lead.
However, Brother Rice (4-2 overall, 2-1 in the Catholic League Central) would get on the scoreboard just before halftime as Navin Abro blocked a punt and returned it for a touchdown to cut Brother Rice’s deficit to 3 points.
In the third quarter, Niemiec stepped up again as he scored on a 28-yard touchdown run for a 17-7 Eaglets’ lead.
In the fourth quarter, sophomore Alex Malzone came in to replace Cheyne Lacanaria after he took a hard hit. Malzone threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to Brian Walker with just over 9 minutes remaining in his only play of the game.
But St. Mary’s was then able to eat up the clock on its next drive, and when Niemiec scored his third touchdown of the night on a 1-yard run to cap an 80-yard drive, there were less than 3 minutes remaining in the game.
St. Mary’s held Brother Rice to only 208 yards of total offense on the night.
“I think we play good team defense. We didn’t allow the big play except for (Malzone’s touchdown pass),” Porritt said. “We just keep getting better week to week.”
Niemiec finished with 85 yards on 23 carries while Parker McInnis had 84 yards on 16 carries.
The Eaglets will next take on Warren De La Salle (3-3, 0-2 in the Catholic League Central) at St. Clair Shores Lakeshore on Saturday, Oct. 6.
“We’ve got a lot to stop against De La Salle and they’ll be jacked up to play,” Porritt said.