DECKERVILLE – Deckerville played like the wind turbines that dot the countryside in northern Sanilac County, generating lots of power on offense with a 58-12 win Friday against New Haven Merritt Academy in the Michigan High School Athletic Association Eight-Man Football Regional final.
The Eagles move on to the state semi-finals.
Deckerville running back Austin Fritch scored on the first play of the second half at 11:05 of the third quarter, scampering 49 yards. The point after was no good, but the touchdown made it 44-0, and the game was over for all intents and purposes.
The Eagles scored at 11:15 of the fourth quarter on a short pass from backup quarterback Cole Romzek to Johnathon Ridley and again with 2:21 remaining after Zachary Ostrowski took a short pitch around the left end. Ostrowski had run the ball to about the Mustang three-yard line on the previous play.
Merritt was able to move the ball through the air in the second half. Matthew Shather scored on a short pass from quarterback John Basile at 3:40 of the third quarter. Tim Shamblin scored on a short run at 6:08 of the fourth quarter after Basile moved the ball downfield with long completions to Shather.
Deckerville played the first half on a short field, starting all of its offensive series from inside the Merritt 50-yard line and taking a 38-0 lead into half-time.
The Eagles started fast, Wade Saldana scoring from about three yards out at the 9:32 mark of the first quarter. The score was set up when Austin Spaetzel recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff.
The Mustangs fared no better on their first offensive play, Basile fumbling the exchange and Spaetzel recovering. The Eagles’ Fritch scored from 22 yards out at 8:31.
Chase Pattullo continued the turnover trend, picking off Basile, and giving the Eagles the ball at the New Haven 49. The Mustangs, however, were able to stop Deckerville deep in their territory.
The Eagles regained their momentum in the second quarter, Saldana opened the scoring at 11:52, taking the ball up the middle and breaking it to the outside.
Saldana ran five times consecutively during Deckerville’s next scoring drive. Quarterback Brandon Pattullo finished off the drive with a pass to Wyatt Janowiak. The point after was good, and the Eagles had a 30-0 lead with 1:49 left in the half.
The Eagles recovered another Mustang fumble in the red zone, and Saldana scored on the next snap. Cole Romzek scored on the point after, giving Deckerville a 38-0 lead.
Football is a big deal in the small town.
Harleigh and Janet Pattullo’s grand nephews, Chase and Brandon Pattulo, both are on the Deckerville team. That’s something the Pattullos proudly advertise with a sign in their front yard on the southern approach to town.
Harleigh Pattullo played fullback on the 1953 and ’54 Deckerville teams.
“We got the championship,” he said. “Co-champions in ’53 and champions in ’54.”
He said football in Deckerville is “pretty good, pretty important.
“We have good quality bleachers and they’re full every night.”
“Good sportsmanship,” Janet Pattullo said. “Different schools have sent letters saying how much they appreciate it.”
They’ve been married almost 60 years “and I’m still dating the fullback,” Janet Pattullo said.
New Haven Merritt Academy earned its spot in the regional final with a 52-14 win against Owendale-Gagetown on Oct. 28.
Deckerville defeated Webberville, 40-0 on Oct. 28. The Eagles have been playing eight-man football since 2006; they won the state championship in 2012 with a 14-12 victory over Bellaire.
Merritt Academy’s first year playing eight-man football, or football of any kind, was 2012. Deckerville and the Mustangs had never met until Friday.
Contact Bob Gross at (810) 989-6263 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @RobertGross477.