FOOTBALL: Downriver has two teams left in the race for Ford Field, as Wyandotte and Gross Ile prepare for regionals
And then there were two.
Wyandotte Roosevelt (10-1) and Grosse Ile (10-1) are the only two teams from the Downriver area remaining in the 2012 state high school football playoffs, with Wyandotte taking on Oak Park (9-2) at home in a Division 2 regional championship game on Friday night and Grosse Ile facing Birmingham Detroit Country Day (9-2) on the road in a Division 4 regional final on Saturday afternoon.
Last week in the district finals, Wyandotte blanked Taylor Truman 9-0 and Grosse Ile slammed Dearborn Heights Robichaud 70-51.
Since the mid-2000s, Wyandotte has been the preeminent prep gridiron program Downriver, putting together four 10-win seasons in the past five years under head coach Ron Adams.
Senior field general Kevin Matejko is a big and strong quarterback and has racked up close to 1,600 yards and thrown 17 touchdowns against only three interceptions. Matejko’s No. 1 target in the passing game is fellow senior Devan Stewart, who has caught 10 touchdown balls.
D’aries David and Aaron Robinson form a steady two-back tandem rushing the rock for Adams’ Bears’ squad and the defense is paced by linebackers Aaron O’ Meara, Drew Noles and Damon Singleton. Stewart and Brandon Sowards, also a starting wide receiver, headline the Bears’ secondary.
In the Truman game last week, the Wyandotte defense didn’t allow its opponents to cross midfield the whole contest.
Jacob Simpson handles Wyandotte’s kicking duties and booted three field goals in the Bears win over Truman.
As a prepster himself, Adams starred at quarterback at now-closed Taylor Center High School before going on to play in the Mid-American Conference at Eastern Michigan where he led the school to its only Bowl win ever in 1987. Adams got to Wyandotte in 2006 after a successful stint on the sidelines leading the Taylor Truman program.
The last time Adams and the Bears grappled on the gridiron with a team from Oakland County it was back in 2008 when Wyandotte fell to Southfield 24-21 in an overtime thriller in the regionals.
Wyandotte last won a regional crown in 2001.
Grosse Ile is hoping to return to the state semifinals for the second year in a row.
Sophomore signal-caller Andrew Mitroka has had a breakout year leading the Red Devils’ offense, combining for over 1,600 yards of total offense and 20 touchdowns. With the tenacious tenth-grader getting the job done like he was a savvy veteran, Grosse Ile is scoring 35 points per game. Flanking Mitroka in the Grosse Ile stat book this season has been the scintillating backfield duo of Brian Christian and Jordan Nellenbach, both of whom have eclipsed the 1,000-yard plateau.
Against Robichaud last week, Christian and Nellenbach scored four touchdowns each. Christian recorded 281 yards on the ground in a single half of action. Nellenbach rushed for 170 yards.
On the defensive side of the pigskin, Red Devils’ head coach John Bodner gets major contributions from Derek Cuddy and Vince Alongi at the linebacker spot, Chris Tromley up front on the line and cornerback Joe Vollmerhausen triggering the secondary.
2001 was the last time Grosse Ile went toe-to-toe with a team from Oakland County when the Blue Devils lost to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s in the first round of the playoffs.