Catholic Central loses quarterback, shuts down Romeo, 17-0, in D-1 semifinal
Howell - Detroit Catholic Central was built for cold weather games.
The Shamrocks feature big, bruising fullbacks and an offensive line that likes to establish the line of scrimmage.
On Saturday in a Division 1 semifinal, the Shamrocks punished Romeo behind its fullbacks on its way to a 17-0 victory. Catholic Central, ranked No. 2, will face top-ranked Detroit Cass Tech in the Division 1 finals on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Cass Tech (13-0) defeated Utica Eisenhower 32-28 in the other semifinal.
“We had great resolve,” C.C. coach Tom Mach said. “We knew we had to keep the ball on the ground in this weather. We had to come through, and our boys did a great job.”
Catholic Central’s mettle was tested in the first half when it lost sophomore quarterback Austin Brown to a broken leg when he broke a 30-yard run to the 3-yard line. As he was tackled, Brown was rolled up out of bounds as he tried to stretch for a touchdown.
Catholic Central (13-0) stalled with backup quarterback Marco Genrich and settled for Jacob Nichols’ 31-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead with 2:23 left in the half.
Romeo (9-4) had trouble moving the ball all game. The Bulldogs only had 103 total yards and crossed into C.C. territory twice.
Catholic Central lost its starting halfback, Nick Capatina, in the second half as well. The Shamrocks then highlighted all three of its fullbacks - Matt Young, Cam Ryan, and Isaac Darkangelo.
“It was something we actually had to work on all week,” Mach added. “Nick has been hurt and we wanted to get creative with our play calling. But we knew our line would get a good push, and our kids would run hard no matter what. We could impose our will in the trenches.”
Ryan didn’t want to impose his will, though. According to the 6-foot 220-pound junior, all he wanted to do was make snow angles. With 4:24 left in the fourth quarter, Ryan capped an 11-play drive with a 9-yard touchdown run for a 10-0 lead, and immediately fulfilled his promise.
“I’ve never played in snow before. I told coach that I’m going to make a snow angel if I score. I couldn’t help myself,” he said with a grin. “We all had to step up when Austin and Nick went down. All of us have heart, and we had to step up in their absence.”
The three-back attack was utilized out of a T-formation the rest of the game. Ryan carried the ball 20 times for 85 yards and a touchdown. Darkangelo carried the ball eight times for 61 yards and scored with 25 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Matt Young had six carries for 22 yards.
The win sets up the long awaited match-up between Catholic Central and Cass Tech. C.C. has reached the state finals for a state record 17 times. But despite the drama, Ryan and the Shamrocks are just taking it one game at a time.
“We just look forward to the game we have that week. We haven’t looked ahead one bit. That single focus has helped us get here, but now we have to finish the job,” he said.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Remember to watch the highlights from this game on the STATE CHAMPS! HS Sports Show, Sunday morning at 9:00 am on Fox Sports Detroit!