In Play with Tom Markowski


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Harrison’s defense smothers Fitzgerald as the Hawks advance to a district final with a 45-14 victory

By: Tom Markowski, October 27, 2017, 10:39 pm

Farmington Hills – There were numerous upsets on the first night of the Michigan High School Athletic Association playoffs.

Senior defensive back Joe Stevens and his fellow defensive mates made sure one didn’t take place at Warren Fitzgerald on Friday.

Farmington Hills Harrison held Fitzgerald to a minus 20 yards and no first downs before coach John Herrington substituted as Harrison cruised to a 45-14 victory in a Division 3 predistrict.

Harrison (7-3) will play at Warren Woods Tower (8-2) next Friday in a district final. Woods Tower defeated Hazel Park, 31-0, in the other predistrict.

Stevens is a transfer from Farmington didn’t play last season because he had to sit out a semester because of the transfer rule. He’s making up for lost time.

Stevens returned a kickoff 80 for a touchdown to start the second half and give Harrison a 26-0 lead.

The Hawks scored touchdowns on three of their four possessions in the first half and led 19-0 at halftime.

Roderick Heard’s 2-yard touchdown gave Harrison at 7-0 lead and rushed for 79 yards on 13 carries in the first 24 minutes.

Quarterback Noah Hendricks threw touchdown passes of 16 and 15 yards to Ovie Oghoufo and Andry Slewo, respectively to complete the scoring.

Fitzgerald played well defensively at times but its offense was stymied by a quick defense that allowed 10 yards.

Each team had one turnover. Nik Cotton had an interception for Harrison that gave the Hawks possession on their 49-yard line. Two sacks, one by linebacker Gio Kizer, forced a Harrison punt.

Weather conditions were poor, as they were at most venues, and Stevens said it’s not something he and his teammates allowed to interfere with their play.

“You’ve got to play to the best of your ability, no matter the conditions” Stevens said. “We want to win a state championship. We play as a team. I think anyone can beat us if we play to our ability.

“I love it, playing for coach (Herrington).

“We have speed and a lot of quickness. We get to the ball.”

The Hawks did just that all game. Fitzgerald never was able to get its ground game going until Harrison put in its second string. Sophomore running back Peny Boone took advantage of that as he scored on touchdown runs of 63 and 80 yards.

Heard carried just one time in the second half and led Harrison with 103 yards on 14 carries.

“I don’t think we blocked particularly well early,” Herrington said. “I thought our defense played well. We weren’t concerned with the passing game. Our corners are really good. Heard is good and Stevens is just as good.

“Sometimes the first round can be rough. I always thought the first game and the semifinals were the toughest. So it was good we got this.”