St. Mary’s dominates Huron, heads to finals
DEARBORN – The Orchard Lake St. Mary’s defense has gained a reputation this postseason as being a stingy group.
Through three playoff contests the Eaglet defense allowed just 25 points and the offense was scoring at a 46-point per game pace.
The script was the same for St. Mary’s on Saturday.
After giving up a 56-yard run by New Boston Huron quarterback Matthew Hartwick on the first play from scrimmage, St. Mary’s clamped down and held the Chiefs to just three points and two first-quarter first downs in a 51-3 victory at Dearborn High in a Division 3 semifinal.
The Eaglet defense, which had a safety, a sack and a fumble recovery to its credit, limited the Chiefs to 80 first-half yards – 73 of which came in the first quarter.
“Our defense played incredible,” St. Mary’s coach George Porritt said. “They rallied to the ball and made a lot of big plays and were very well-coached.”
St. Mary’s (11-2) advances to its sixth state title game since 2007 and ninth since 2000. The Eaglets will go for their first Division 3 state championship in three years next Saturday against Muskegon at Ford Field at 7:30 p.m. The Big Reds (12-1) handed Zeeland West a 20-0 defeat on Saturday to advance to Ford Field for a third straight year.
Holding a 7-3 lead after the opening quarter, the St. Mary’s backfield broke the game open in the second quarter on a 1-yard touchdown rush up the middle by Justin Myrick with 2:58 left in the half.
Devon Defrances then blocked a punt and Matt Goers recovered at the Huron 20. This led to quarterback Brendan Tabone’s 8-yard touchdown pass to running back Pierce Bauer with 25 seconds remaining, as St. Mary’s took a 21-3 lead.
Tabone, who finished the game by going 6-of-9 for 47 yards, two touchdowns and an interception, has been steadily improving, according to Porritt.
“Brendan has been playing better each week,” Porritt said. “Brendan has been getting better, so now we just need him to keep getting better.”
The backfield trio of Brandon Adams, Myrick and Bauer combined for 173 yards and four touchdowns on 38 carries. Adams, who led the way with 92 yards on 20 rushes, posted a 1-yard scoring play in the third quarter to give the Eaglets a 28-3 lead with 7:40 remaining.
“We just have a very good balance,” Porritt said on his backfield. “We’re able to run the ball on either side, and our offensive line does a great job, too. We’re very fortunate to have three or four backs that can run the ball.”
Myrick finished with 75 yards on nine carries, including a 19-yard touchdown run to end the third quarter, while Bauer had 64 yards and a score on nine runs.
Saturday’s loss ends an historic season for the Chiefs (11-2). Making just its second-ever postseason appearance, Huron not only posted the program’s first playoff win but captured district and regional titles along the way.
“I told the kids that this hurts now, but you’re going to be proud of what you accomplished,” Huron coach Dan Kalbfleisch said. “Winning a regional championship and getting to the final four is a big deal and getting this program started in the right direction is a huge accomplishment for these kids and our program.
“Our young kids are going to need the hunger to get back to this level. We have a lot of young kids on the team and we’ve got a good JV team, so we need to try and build this into a perennial program instead of this being a cute little run. I don’t want this to be a cute little run, and then we’re done. We want to make this a program thing and start to develop every year.”