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Orchard Lake St. Mary’s rolls past Warred De La Salle in Prep Bowl, 38-0

By: Scott Burnstein, October 24, 2015, 11:30 pm

Detroit – One defending state champion is surging, the other stumbling a bit, licking their wounds and dealing with a rash of injuries with the playoffs fast approaching.

Defending Division 3 state-champ Orchard Lake St. Mary’s is playing its’ best football late in the season. The Eaglets trounced a hobbled defending Division 2 state-champ Warren De La Salle 38-0 in the A-B Catholic League Prep Bowl down at Ford Field Saturday night, avenging the lone defeat on their record and saddling the Pilots with a two-game losing streak entering the postseason, which begins this upcoming week.

The resounding victory gives St. Mary’s its’ first Catholic League title since 2012. The last time St. Mary’s and De La Salle clashed on the gridiron in late September, De La Salle got the better of the match-up, cruising to a 31-8 win and ruining St. Mary’s homecoming festivities in the process.

“We definitely turned the tide tonight from the last time we met,” Eaglets coach George Porritt said. “The Catholic League is just so tough, no league prepares you more for the playoffs than ours. We’re playing well lately. We’ve cleaned things up since the first De La Salle game and we’re competing hard and executing on both sides of the football. That’s what you want to see your team doing when you’re preparing for a playoff run.”

The 2015 Prep Bowl was a blowout from start to finish. St. Mary’s (7-1) was ahead 17-0 at the break and by the fourth quarter the game had a running clock installed. De La Salle never threatened. The Pilots were missing multiple starters due to injuries, including standout junior tailback-cornerback

Allen Stritzinger, who sat out another week nursing a high ankle sprain suffered earlier this year. Stritzinger (over 1,400 yards as a sophomore), saw spot duty in Week 8 and is expected back in uniform again for De La Salle’s playoff opener.

“Hopefully, we’re getting healthier and that can give us a charge,” said De La Salle coach Paul Verska of his postseason outlook. “We’ve got hardnosed kids, I think we’ll be okay.”

Saturday was a different story. Verska’s Pilots (6-3) couldn’t contain St. Mary’s and its’ balanced playmaking. Senior quarterback Brandon Tabone picked the De La Salle secondary apart for 222 passing yards and a pair of touchdowns to junior receiver K.J. Hamler (42, 43) and running backs Brandon Adams and Ryan Johnson did damage, too. Adams, a senior, punched in two scores on the goal line. Johnson, only a junior, scored on a 29-yard run in the fourth quarter. Adams’ final touchdown of the evening, a 3-yarder in the closing seconds of the third, gave St. Mary’s a commanding 31-0 advantage.

“This was a huge game and we got a huge win,” Tabone said. “We’re in sync, we’re all clicking at the right time. For us going into the playoffs next week, it’s all about confidence and execution. Right now, we’re extremely confident and executing like we have to. That’s how we’re going to have to keep playing if we want to win back-to-back state championships.”