De La Salle regroups, takes down U-D
erndale – One half just might have saved Warren De La Salle’s season.
De La Salle trailed U-D Jesuit 7-3 at halftime before scoring three touchdowns in the third quarter and the Pilots pulled out a 24-7 victory in a Catholic League Central Division game at Ferndale High on Friday.
De La Salle (4-3, 1-2) had lost three straight. The Pilots led late in the fourth quarter in each of those games before losing in the final minute each time.
This time it was the Pilots that made the comeback and their playoff hopes are contingent upon a victory in their next game at Detroit Catholic Central (3-4) on Oct. 19.
If De La Salle losses to C.C. it’s unlikely the Pilots will get in with a 5-4 record as an additional qualifier. De La Salle’s opponent in the ninth week is uncertain at this time. It will be against a team from the Detroit Public School League and it’s unlikely it will be against one of the PSL’s big two – Detroit Cass Tech or Detroit King. Barring an upset Cass Tech and King will play for the PSL championship Oct. 24 at Ford Field. It would be speculative to guess which team PSL director of athletics Alvin Ward will ultimately decide to face the Pilots.
De La Salle might have been the state’s best 3-3 team entering its game with U-D (2-5, 0-3). The teams it lost to have a combined record of 20-1 and all three are ranked in the state’s top 20 list. Birmingham Brother Rice is ranked No. 1 and it defeated De La Salle 28-21.
Should it make the playoffs De La Salle will be a difficult out, just as it was last season when it entered the Division 1 playoffs at 6-3 and lost to Macomb Dakota, 19-14.
The Pilots didn’t play like a playoff team in the first half on Friday. After taking a 3-0 lead they fumbled a punt, threw an interception that Randy Thomas returned 59 yards for a touchdown, lost a fumble after gaining two first downs then was forced to punt on their final two possessions of the half. On each of those possessions De La Salle committed a major penalty that stalled the drive.
The return of defensive lineman Mike Danna proved pivotal in De La Salle’s victory. Danna suffered a broken leg in the opener and coach Paul Verska said Danna was perhaps “80 percent” for the game against U-D. Danna recorded three sacks, had another tackle for loss and scored the game’s most important touchdown.
On De La Salle’s second drive of the second half quarterback Joey Garbarino completed all three attempts for 73 yards including a 34-yard touchdown pass to Myles Charley that gave the Pilots a 10-7 lead with 6:30 left in the third.
Three plays later Drew Beesley sacked Scott Nelson and stripped the ball loose. Danna scooped it up and ran 22 yards for a touchdown and a 17-7 lead with 5:05 left.
Garbarino (7-11, 111 yards) added a 1-yard sneak for a touchdown and De La Salle’s defense did the rest.
C.C. will host its annual Boys Bowl on the 19th. The Shamrocks are always geared up to lay that game.
De La Salle needs to play at a level it showed in the second half against U-D if it expects to get past C.C. Otherwise the Pilots will likely be left out when the playoff pairings are announced on Oct. 26.