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FOOTBALL: Everest Collegiate pounds the rock in first-game victory over Oakland Christian

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Football - 8/31/2013 

Clarkston Everest Collegiate 31
Auburn Hills Oakland Christian 0
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CLARKSTON — It was six years ago when Auburn Hills Oakland Christian debuted on the football field. The Lancers have taken their lumps in their early years.

Clarkston Everest Collegiate made its debut Saturday night, hosting Oakland Christian in front of some 600 fans. The Mountaineers made quite a statement for a first-year program in their first-ever game.

Carrying just a few players that played for Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes’ team that reached the Division 7 regional finals last season, Everest Collegiate overcame a slow start to record a win in its inaugural game, posting a resounding 31-0 non-league victory over the Lancers.

Sal Mastermatteo, a junior quarterback who started on varsity at Waterford Lakes as a freshman and sophomore, guided the youthful Mountaineers. The signal caller was 3-for-3 passing for 46 yards and used seven ball carriers for 273 rushing yards on 36 attempts. He helped Everest Collegiate post a 319-159 edge in total offense.

“I am very pleased with our team play,” smiled Everest Collegiate coach Mike Pruchnicki. “Having a couple of veterans out there helped, but I thought our offensive line stepped up and played a great game. We didn’t have very much experience there at all. That surprised me.

“I thought guys like Sal Mastermatteo did a great job. Ben Bellestri had a great game and we had several other guys step up,” added Pruchnicki. “I thought we did a good hjob especially because Oakland Christian has some nice athletes. The score was not indicative of how the game was played. It was much closer.”

Everest Collegiate (1-0) stalled out Oakland Christian at the Everest 4 with 9:36 left in the second quarter. A total of 96 yards and 12 plays later, the Mountaineers scored their first touchdown when Mastermatteo found a streaking sophomore Andrew Hayosh for an 18-yard TD strike with 2:55 left in the second quarter.

Everest forced Oakland Christian (1-0) to punt from its own end zone with 2:00 left and a bad snap out of the end zone resulted in a safety and a 9-0 Mountaineers lead.

With one final possession of the first half, Everest Collegiate put together a swift 52-yard drive that ended with Mastermatteo reaching the end zone on a 1-yard keeper 14.4 seconds before the half. A two-point conversion pass from Mastermatteo to Elliot Fenske gave Everest a commanding 17-0 halftime lead.

By that time, the Mountaineers were gaining confidence by the minute.

Mastermatteo credited the play of the offensive line — Xavier Engle, Jeremy Schupbach, Chris Bradley, Ryan Bradley and Steven Scott — in helping the Mountaineers put together an impressive debut performance.

“They did a great job,” he said. “They worked really hard out there. And most of them haven’t played high school football before, or at least varsity. This was their first game.”

Bellestri added a 1-yard scoring run with 9:28 remaining in the third quarter and sophomore Isiah Hellner put the final nail in the Lancers’ coffin when he scored on a 5-yard scamper with 6:30 left. The final scoring play was set up when Bellestri recovered a fumble on the Lancers’ 5-yard-line.

“We came in here with the intention of winning,” offered Bellestri. I know we are a new team, but these guys have worked so hard in the offseason since they announced we were going to have our own team.”

The Lancers were missing 6-foot-5 senior wide receiver-defensive end Chris Nichols and his absence caused a shift in positions. The inability to finish in the red zone also killed Oakland Christian’s chances.

“Not only is Nichols a really good receiver but he’s our top defensive end and we had to move people around,” said Oakland Christian coach Bill Schaeffer. “We were a little inexperienced on the D-Line and they were able to find some holes.

“I also thought we made a lot of mistakes,” continued Schaeffer. “I think if we scored in the first half when we had the ball inside their 5, it would have changed things up a little bit and we would have played with some confidence. Instead, we didn’t score and didn’t play with confidence. Everest is a very well-coached and disciplined team and I think once they scored a couple of times, they were the team playing with confidence.”

Oakland Christian tried to spoil the shutout in the final minute, but were stalled again on fourth-and-goal from the five with 6.7 seconds left.

Bellestri was workhorse carrying the football for Everest, finishing with 16 rushes for 131 yards. Senior Lucas Neme, who along with Mastermatteo were the only Mountaineers to have varsity starting experience at Lakes, had seven carries for 68 yards.

Junior Javarian Smith finished 7-for-15 passing for 101 yards and junior Chad Christian added 49 more passing yards for Oakland Christian, which was held to only nine total rushing yards in the contest. Senior Aaron Kostich had five catches for 90 yards sophomore Ryan Kostich added 37 more receiving yards for the Lancers.

Last Updated: 9/1/2013 12:29:33 AM EST

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