Novi Detroit Catholic Central needed to beat Warren De La Salle by eight points to secure a spot in this week’s Prep Bowl at Ford Field, so when the Shamrocks scored first in overtime, coach Tom Mach … sent out the kicker to attempt the extra point.
Hey, what about the eight points?
“The fact that we went first, I just wanted to make sure we had seven points,” Mach said. “Our kids played so dang hard, and if you don’t get it, you could have a major letdown right there. It would have played into their hands.”
CC made the kick, and when the defense stopped De La Salle on its possession in overtime, the Shamrocks had a 21-14 victory and shared a piece of the Catholic League Central Division championship with La Salle and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
Due to the tie-breaking procedure, CC finished third, so it will be St. Mary’s playing De La Salle on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Prep Bowl at Ford Field; CC will host Detroit Western likely Thursday.
While it would be nice to play in the Prep Bowl, the last thing CC needs is another battle against De La Salle entering the state playoffs.
One of the key moments in CC’s victory was Alex Bock returning a kickoff 99 yards for a score, and if that sounds vaguely familiar, it should. Two years ago, it was Zach Bock — Alex’s older brother — who returned a missed field-goal attempt 99 yards to beat the Pilots.
“The guys that were on the chains asked if that was the brother of the guy who took that field goal back on us a couple of years ago,” Mach said. “He made a great run.”
Both Bocks made terrific returns, and Alex — who also had a 74-yard return — has a lot in common with his older brother.
“They’re fast,” Mach said. “They were both multitalented. Like his brother, Alex returns punts, he returns kickoffs, he’s an offensive receiver, he’s a defensive back. He does a lot of things very well, and he’s got another gear. When he started coming down the sideline, he just kicked it in and just left everybody, just like his brother.”
The win gave CC its sixth victory and a spot in the state playoffs. All in all, not going for two points worked out well.
“Our kids fought too hard to be fooling around with two points at that point. If we went second (in overtime), that would have been an easier choice,” Mach said. “Actually, we were so excited, we were just happy our kids played so well and we had the opportunity to beat them, and we did.”
Oak Park makes a run
After the first three weeks of the season, it looked like Oak Park’s playoff hopes were gone.
But coach Greg Carter knew losing to Zeeland West, 42-34, Farmington, 20-19, and Farmington Hills Harrison, 24-0, wasn’t as bad as it seemed.
“We had some confidence we could play,” he said. “We didn’t know if we would win five in a row, but we knew that we had lost to two teams that were (state) semifinalists last year. We were young, and we just had to hang in there.”
There were some bright spots in those losses. At halftime, the Knights trailed Farmington, 20-0, and Harrison, 21-0, then played sound defense in the second half.
“We were playing nervous early,” Carter said.
Oak Park is on a five-game winning streak after drilling Southfield, 50-14. Quarterback Chauncey Lowman, who missed the Harrison game, found Miles Daniel with a 22-yard touchdown pass just before halftime to pull the Knights within two, and they rolled from there.
Jordan Level, a safety and wide receiver, is healthy again and, like Daniel and Lowman, is a three-year starter who has been instrumental in the turnaround.
Oak Park is one victory away from an automatic spot in the state playoffs, but Friday it plays at two-time defending Division 1 state champ Clarkston (6-2), which also has won five in a row.
“We feel good about this win, but we’ve got our hands full,” Carter said. “You can’t count on the 5-4 thing, and you don’t want to really go into any kind of playoff situation with a loss, so we’re going to have to play. We dug ourselves such a deep hole, we are not out of it yet.”
The Knights aren’t out of the hole, but they can see daylight.
“When you’re 0-3 this time of year, these games could be for nothing,” Carter said. “If we play well this week and get a win, we know we’ll be a tough out in the playoffs. That’s the way we’re looking at it.”
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.
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