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St. Mary C.C. beats Ithaca’s, snaps five-year winning streak

By: Scott Burnstein, November 28, 2014, 7:28 pm

DETROIT – Vanquishing Ithaca’s five-year winning streak, Monroe St. Mary mauled and mashed its way to its’ second football state crown in school history, speeding past the four-time defending-champion Yellowjackets 22-12 in the Division 6 state finals Friday down at Ford Field.

Entering the game, Ithaca (13-1) had won 69 straight dating back to the 2009 state championship game. St. Mary C.C. last won a state title in 1991. The Falcons fell to Ithaca in the state finals in 2009 and 2010.

Jumping ahead 15-12 at the half on a John Lako 2-yard rushing touchdown and a 19-yard fumble-recovery for a score by Travis Vuich, St. Mary C.C. (13-1) handed things over to its defense to finish the job.

The most critical play of the game came late in the fourth quarter with Ithaca threatening to the score from the C.C. 10-yard line. With two minutes to go and C.C. clinging to a 3-point lead, the Falcons’ Darius Marks intercepted an Ithaca pass at the goal-line, snuffing out a trick play where the Yellowjackes quarterback flipped the ball to a wide receiver to throw a pass towards the end zone.

Lako punched in a 3-yard touchdown with 1:41 left to clinch the victory for C.C. He chipped in on defense from a linebacker spot with seven tackles and a sack.

“Our line play on both sides of the ball was the difference, they gave protection and brought pressure the whole day,” Lako said. “The defense fueled the offense and the offense fueled the defense. We all played big and made big plays.”

C.C.’s Justin LaPlante led the Falcons defense in the stat sheet with 10 tackles, two of them going for lost yardage. Bryce Windham, the team’s starting quarterback and catalyst in the secondary, joined Lako with a key second-half..

“This whole team battled hard and executed and really pulled off a fantastic win for our program,” said Falcons coach Jack Giarmo.

His opponents’ streak was hardly on his or his team’s minds coming into Friday’s action.

“We placed all the talk about the streak aside this week and just focused on the finals, nothing else,” he said. “These guys were primed.”

Ithaca scored on an 11-yard touchdown pass from junior field general Jake Smith to Spence DeMull in the first quarter and on Smith’s 3-yard run in the second quarter. His big brother, Travis was Ithaca’s signal-caller the past three seasons, earning an all-state nod each year.

Yellowjackets’ coach Terry Hessbrook had no regrets following the streak-snapping loss.

“I’m so incredibly proud of the effort today, all you can do as a coach is ask your kids to play as hard as they can, give every inch of their heart and soul and that’s what we did,” he said. “We came up a little short that’s all.  There’s such a small margin for error in state championship games. One play here or there and we win this thing.”



**EDITORS NOTE: Highlights from this game can be seen on the State Champs! High School Sports Show Sunday at 9 am and 10 pm on Fox Sports Detroit**