Rochester Adams’ season was at a crossroads when the Highlanders rolled into Farmington Hills Harrison on Friday.
Adams, impressive in winning its first three games, was trying to rebound from a 44-42 overtime loss to Oak Park the week before.
“A couple of things could have happened after you lose in overtime on a two-point conversion to a good Oak Park team,” said Adams coach Tony Patritto. “You either get better and have some resolve and go to Harrison or you start doubting yourself and get rolled, which could have happened.”
Oh, a rolling did occur, but it was Adams that did the rolling, beating Harrison, 20-9.
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The difference from the Oak Park loss to the Harrison win was a defense that played with purpose and discipline.
“They have some really good running backs and obviously they’re pretty good at what they do — they’ve been doing the same thing for as long as I can remember, 50 years or so,” Patritto said of Harrison. “We had good defensive fits. Our defensive coaches did a great job of putting kids in a good place.”
The Adams players defensive coordinator Mark MacFarland had most in place were linebackers Ben Petersmark and Steven Roncelli, who neutralized Harrison’s backs.
“We have some pretty good linebackers that matched their kids pretty well and we avoided the big play,” Patritto said. “Their screen game is one of the better weapons game around. We did a good job of matching their guys out of the backfield and keeping them in front of us.”
Making things easier for the Adams defense was the Adams offense, which possessed the ball for all but four plays in the third quarter.
The Highlanders used the first 61/2 minutes of the third quarter on their first drive and after a quick three-and-out by Harrison, they used the rest of the quarter before scoring on the second play of the fourth quarter.
“Both teams are similar in that they have a lot of guys going both ways,” Patritto said. “One of the best ways to slow down really good offensive players is to make them (play) a lot of downs of D.”
Adams senior quarterback Kyle Wood, who was forced into the lineup as a freshman and led the Highlanders to the regional final, played like a seasoned veteran, completing 6 of 10 passes for 87 yards and carried the ball 18 times for 80 yards without any turnovers.
The win improved Adams to 4-1, but please don’t try telling Patritto his team is only two wins from qualifying for the state playoffs, which it missed last season.
Unlike some coaches, simply making the playoffs doesn’t mean much to Patritto. He’d like to be able to win playoff games, not just play in them.
“I’m not really interested in the conversation about trying to get six (wins),” he said. “Once we start doing that I’m done. A lot of people’s thought process is just try to get six and you get in the playoffs. That’s what I don’t want to be — ever. We’re going to try to win our end of the OAA White if we can.”
A win over Farmington Friday would set up a Week 7 showdown with currently-unbeaten Birmingham Groves.
Walled Lake Western adds a loss
Walled Lake Western, the No. 1 team in Division 2, defeated Waterford Kettering, 40-21, last week, but suddenly has a loss on its record. The loss is a result of a recently-discovered ineligible player Western used in the Week 1 victory over Farmington.
Saturday’s big showdown
The game of the week this week will be the showdown between Detroit Cass Tech, No. 1 in Division 1, and defending Public School League and Division 2 state champ Detroit King, ranked No. 2 in D-2. The game is Saturday at Cass Tech at noon. King beat Cass Tech twice last season, 31-28 in the regular season, and 27-25 in the PSL championship game. Although King has yet to play East English Village, this is likely the first of two times these teams will play this season.
Shamrocks’ luck extends to OTs
For the second week in a row, Novi Detroit Catholic Central had to hang on for dear life and pull out a victory in overtime when it defeated archrival Birmingham Brother Rice, 28-21, in two overtimes. On paper, CC appears to be the better team, but this is what you get in a rivalry game like this. While it was Rice’s second loss of the season, the Warriors earned the No. 9 spot in the Division 2 rankings.
Division 6’s top teams fall
The biggest shakeup in the rankings occurred in Division 6 after No. 1 Millington lost to Frankenmuth, 24-7, and No. 2 Charlevoix was clobbered by Maple City Glen Lake, 49-7. That moved Negaunee up to the No. 1 spot, the only Upper Peninsula team to occupy a No. 1 slot.
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.