In Play with Tom Markowski


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Adams comes out from behind the shadow of other Oakland County teams to be a player in Division 1

By: Tom Markowski, October 29, 2017, 5:16 pm

Rochester – Rochester Adams was one of the top teams not only in Oakland County but throughout the state for a five-to-seven-year period. The Highlanders won 71 games from 2001-07 and this included a state championship (Division 2, 2003) and three semifinal appearances from ’03-’07.

But since that impressive run Adams has been rather pedestrian, by comparison, as the Highlanders have won just one district title and haven’t won more than eight games in a season since.

So far this season, Adams has played like it did in the early to mid-2000s. Other than a one-point loss to West Bloomfield the Highlanders have been rolling and are one win away from capturing a district title.

That will be a tall task. Next up for Adams (9-1) is Utica Eisenhower (10-0), the favorite to win the Division 1 title. The teams will play on Friday at Utica High at 7 p.m.

Adams coach Tony Patritto said this is his best team in quite some time. Just how good we will soon find out.

Last Friday Romeo led Adams 14-0 before the Highlanders came back to win, 26-17. Patritto’s son, Cole, had a touchdown reception in the second quarter to bring the Highlanders back to within 14-7 at halftime. Adams forced two turnovers in the second half that helped to turn the game in its favor.

Eisenhower had little trouble defeating Utica, 52-0, in its predistrict. Eisenhower welcomed the return of quarterback Max Wittwer who missed the last three games of the regular season after suffering a knee injury.

This has the makings of a special season for Patritto and his program. Adams tied West Bloomfield for the Oakland Activities Association Red Division title and should the Highlanders upset Eisenhower it would be the program’s first district title since 2013.

Adams was unranked to start the season after finishing 6-4 in 2016. Much of the focus in the OAA Red Division was on West Bloomfield and Clarkston, and it was Adams that surprised many by making it a three-team race. Adams lost to West Bloomfield, 17-16, and West Bloomfield lost to Bloomfield Hills (28-24) creating the tie for first place.

West Bloomfield (8-2) and Clarkston (8-2), which are also competing in Division 1, also won predistrict games.

Consistency has been Adams’ trademark this season. Patritto said his defense has played well in every quarter this season, which is quite a statement. And seven of his starters go both ways, which only adds to the accomplishments of this team.

Linemen Conner Hess, Reed Vogt and Cole Mitchell all played as sophomores last season, which bodes well for Adams’ future, too. Senior Dustin Leonard (6-2, 270) is the team’s top lineman.

At quarterback is Zach Soldan. He’s thrown for 950 yards this season and has made some big plays this season, many by running the ball. Patritto said Soldan played his best game against Romeo.

Other playmakers include Stephan Roncelli (FB/LB), Chase Kareta (RB/DB), Vincent Gray (WR/DB and Patritto, who plays the slot, cornerback and safety.

The depth at receiver, running back and in the secondary have helped carry the Highlanders. 

All are seniors and Roncelli, who’s a stocky 5-10 and 185 pounds, might be the best. He’s the team’s strongest and fastest player.

Patritto, like Roncelli, has received interest from Division I and II schools, is having a fine season, too. He has 600 yards in receiving and has four interceptions.