Rochester Adams coach Tony Patritto went to bed Friday night with his team leading preseason No. 3 Clarkston, playing without standout running back Ian Eriksen, 12-0 with 35 seconds left in the third quarter after the game had been halted by lightning.
When the game resumed Saturday morning, Eriksen had apparently healed from a previous injury and was in uniform.
“They have six Division I players and having a kid like that who can run real hard behind them is formidable,” said Patritto. He’s impressive.”
But Eriksen hit the end zone only once and Adams was able to pull off the surprising victory, 12-7.
Adams was able to record the stunner with two excellent game plans. The offensive plan was to use quarterback Matt Sokol (20 carries, 81 yards, 4 of 6 passing, 38 yards) and running back Clarence Broadnax (12 carries, 87 yards) to help the ball it away from the Wolves.
“Our goal is to get 50-plus plays a game, but as much as we run the ball it’s hard to get that many,” said Patritto. “We ran 46 plays in the first three quarters.”
Then there was the Adams defense plan that succeededagainst Clarkston’s massive offensive line that includes David Beedle (6-foot-5, 300 pounds) and Nick Matich (6-3, 290).
“They’re ginormous,” said Patritto, resorting to invent a word to accurately describe the size. “They’re absolutely huge. They’re as big as any team we’ve played in a long time.”
So how was Clarkston able to penetrate that line and get to the ball carrier?
“Since I first got here we’ve been smaller than most of the teams we’ve played, so we’ve got to get guys on the move and get to the ball as fast as we can,” Patritto said. “We’re lining guys in the gaps and trying to get them on the move. They’re running a zone scheme anyway so they don’t care where we line up, they’re just trying to find the nearest guy they can and maul him.”
The mauling was held to a minimum and the victory was magnified by Adams’ lack of experience.
Now Patritto can worry about Friday’s game against Farmington Hills Harrison, which will be followed by Oak Park as the Highlanders begin play in the rugged OAA White.
■ IN THE MALZONE: The key to Birmingham Brother Rice’s 29-20 victory over highly-regarded Cleveland St. Ignatius was the ability of junior quarterback Alex Malzone to keep the defense off balance with a variety of passes. He completed 24 of 35 passes for 248 yards and a touchdown with two drops and after the game, Rice coach Al Fracassa knew why Malzone was so effective.
“I’ve got to give Coach Dave Sofran credit for that,” Fracassa said. “He’s my passing guy. He was a receiver when he was in college. He’s got so many plays I can’t even keep up with them. I have to ask him what he’s running. He did a great job.”
■ THE DEFENSE RESTS: One of the wildest games of the weekend was Hillman’s 55-54 victory over Gaylord St. Mary.
Hillman coach Bill Koenig was not pleased with his team’s defensive effort.
“We’ve been putting a lot of time in on offense because we’re running the spread this year and so our defense has been suffering and it showed up Thursday night,” he said. “You can tell where we did our work at. The offense looked pretty good and our defense might as well sat on the bench or laid down. Maybe somebody would have tripped over them.”
That might not have been enough to stop St. Mary quarterback Nick Harrington, who had a phenomenal night, rushing for 392 yards and four touchdowns and passed for 161 yards and another four touchdowns.
Hillman had its own star in Kenny Kolcan, who missed nearly all of last season. He gained 181 yards on 16 carries and scored four touchdowns.
“He shows what the weight room does for you,” said Koenig. “He’s been in there every day doing plyometrics and weightlifting and boy, he ran well, really well.”
■ RANKINGS: The Free Press rankings make their debut today on page 10B. To rank teams in all eight divisions, we called upon prep football guru Ralph Erickson to help. Since the exact divisions are not established until the 256-team playoff field is determined following the ninth game, Erickson used data from the last several seasons to decide the divisions breakpoints used for our rankings. Some teams may wind up in playoff divisions different than the ones they were ranked in all season, but thanks to Erickson’s efforts these divisions are remarkably close to what you will see in the playoffs.
The divisional breakdowns can be found online at http://www.freep.com/highschoolsports.