‘One-Armed Wonder,’ defense lead Catholic Central to Boys Bowl win over DeLaSalle, setting up rematch for CHSL title
NOVI — He might be the ‘One-Armed Wonder,’ as the Shamrocks’ student section was chanting, but he’s hardly a one-man gang.
Broken left wrist encased in a padded cast, Novi Detroit Catholic Central quarterback Marco Genrich was certainly throwing his body around with abandon in Sunday’s Boys Bowl, throwing for 127 yards and rushing for 84 more in the Shamrocks’ 10-7 win over Warren De La Salle.
“He is tough, a tough kid. I mean, what he did down here, diving for that touchdown?” CC coach Dan Anderson said. “Just great.”
The senior quarterback’s gutty effort in his second game back from the injury was merely emblematic of the ‘punch-you-in-the-mouth’ way the whole Shamrock team played, with the offensive line paving the way for he and Keegan Koehler to run for a combined 152 yards, and the defensive line putting the brakes on a Pilots offense that was averaging better than 30 points per game.
“It was a great game. Everybody played great on offense, offensive line, receivers, running backs. Defense played a great game, holding a great De La Salle team to seven points, that’s not easy. Overall, just a great team win,” Genrich said, noting that the Shamrocks (6-2, 2-1 CHSL Central will just get back to work Monday, preparing for the same team.
“We know it’s going to be another battle next week, so we’ve just gotta go back to work on Monday.”
The two teams will face off again next week, playing for the Catholic League championship in the Prep Bowl at Ford Field.
For DeLaSalle (6-2, 2-1 CHSL Central), it was just a second loss in its past 14 games. After beating CC in back-to-back weeks last season, the Pilots ran off five straight wins to claim the Division 2 state title, before losing to defending D3 champion Muskegon in Week 1 this year.
And, like that earlier loss, this one was settled in the trenches.
“I thought they won the battle on the line of scrimmage. That’s what these games come down to, and usually we’ve been pretty good at that,” DeLaSalle coach Mike Giannone said. “They just beat us. I thought they were better on the line of scrimmage, and I thought their quarterback executed pretty well — he’s good. When he got hurt, that changed things.”
Quarterback injuries did play a factor in the league race this year, impacting both of Sunday’s combatants.
The Pilots lost starting signal caller Anthony Stepnitz to an ankle injury in a 13-0 Week 4 win over Birmingham Brother Rice, but defensive back Nolan Schultz stepped into his spot, and the Pilots didn’t miss a beat.
“He’s been doing pretty well, but to be able to go both ways, and play every play like he has, it wears on you now, because they were thumping him pretty good,” said Giannone of Schultz, who threw for 126 yards on 4-for-12 passing on Sunday.
A week earlier, Genrich was hurt midway through a 34-10 loss to Toledo Central Catholic, and missed three weeks in their entirety, before returning in last week’s loss to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s.
“When I got hurt, I thought I was done (for the season). But it just feels really good to be back with my teammates, really big win today. We’re just really happy to get a win,” said Genrich, who hopes to get his cast off this week, before the Prep Bowl. Even if it stays on, it doesn’t hamper him too much. “Honestly, not really. It’s pretty thick. I can do everything, I just can’t hold the ball in my left hand.”
While Jack Beno played well in his absence, it’s still a calming presence to get the starter back under center — as well as injured players back in a number of areas.
“Slowly but surely, we’re starting to get guys back healthy. That helps tremendously. We got our D-line back. We’ll see, (Mike) Harding could be back next week. That’ll be another piece to the puzzle,” Anderson said. “I thought our D-line did a great job. Without a whole lot of changes, we just sent our D-line at them. And that’s because our D-line is getting healthy again.”
The Shamrocks got a ton of pressure on Schultz, but did it with the down four, without blitzing more than a handful of times. Lucas Hendershot had three sacks, and Bryson Trantham had two.
“We were off-schedule a lot. It was second down-and-11, second down-and-10. That’s something we talked about that we didn’t want to happen. That’s something we didn’t want it working against us, and it did,” Giannone said. “I thought our kids played with heart and desire, just execution-wise, we’ve gotta fix some things.”
The CC defense did a good job of keeping track of the Pilots’ big-play threat, Josh DeBerry, limiting him to one long touchdown catch just before the half.
“Defense played awesome,” Anderson said. “Besides our two guys hitting each other, the defense played awesome today.”
The Shamrocks’ safety went for the interception, and picked off the cornerback on his way past the ball, leaving DeBerry wide open to scamper the rest of the way for a 61-yard touchdown on a one-play drive with 1:14 left before the break.
“It was a lucky play for us, but we’ll take it,” Giannone said. “They had it defended pretty well, but he threw it there. I always said you gotta have luck if you want to win. We had a little bit of it, just not enough.”
That score brought the Pilots back within a field goal at 10-7, but neither team would score after the break.
Catholic Central jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the second quarter, using a 38-yard field goal by Owen Finnerty to get on the board, then adding a Genrich touchdown run on the next drive. CC twice converted on fourth downs on their second scoring march, with a 14-yard pass from Genrich to Koehler on fourth-and-6, and then Genrich’s sneak on fourth-and-goal from the DeLaSalle 1.