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FOOTBALL: WOLL hands Shrine its first loss of the season

ROYAL OAK – A muddy field and Sean Thomas' legs provided a springboard for Waterford Our Lady Of The Lakes to show they are the class of the Catholic League Intersectional division after WOLL beat Royal Oak Shrine, 21-14, on a rainy and slightly humid Sunday afternoon.

Shrine and WOLL both play on grass fields and the rain over the weekend made part of Lou Miramonti field into a mud pit, as Thomas, a 6-foot-1, 175 lb. senior, gained 177 yards on 35 carries and scored on a 65-yard rush in the third quarter for WOLL (4-2, 3-0 CHSL Intersectional). The Lakers are in first place by one game over Shrine (5-1, 2-1) and Allen Park Cabrini (3-2, 2-1).

A 46-yard long pass from WOLL sophomore quarterback Clay Senerius to senior wide-out Spencer Howell broke a 14-all tie and proved to be the game-winner, which came with 6:14 left in the third quarter.

WOLL went to Thomas, who had 21 carries and 76 yards in the first half, while Shrine was less successful with its running game. That forced Shrine junior Tim Niehaus to throw the ball maybe a bit more than Knights head coach John Goddard would have liked. Niehaus heaved the ball a total of 20 times, completing eight passes for 237 yards, including an 81-yard scoring pass to senior John Lee with 54.6 remaining in the first quarter that tied the game at 7-7.

That was the score at halftime, but WOLL went ahead 14-7 on a 65-yard run by Thomas in the early stages of the third quarter. The score came with 10:25 left in the third and on a 2nd-and-5 from the WOLL 35.

Then the Knights came back to tie the score once again, this time getting a quarterback sneak from Niehaus as Niehaus scrambled and shook off defenders to tie the ballgame at 14-14 (after the PAT from Erwin) with 8:41 to go in the third.

Then came the go-ahead TD by Howell. Howell scored three points as the kicker, and his touchdown to give him nine points for the contest.

WOLL head coach Josh Sawicki, who in the early 2000's played for former long-time Lakes coach Mike Boyd, now retired to Florida, said the game itself has to been one of the top Catholic League rivalry games, along with Birmingham Brother Rice-Orchard Lake St. Mary's and Novi-Detroit Catholic Central-Brother Rice.

"Lakes-Shrine is pretty much all you have to say," Sawicki said. "It was a mud-bowl, 21-14. The game itself hasn't changed in around 30 years, but the players do. It was just a great day. Two really good teams going at it, we're fortunate enough to make some plays when we needed to. Came out on top. Couldn't be more proud of the coaches, the players, the community, everyone."

Sawicki said the offensive line was a major key to the victory and in handing Shrine its first loss this season.

"Being able to block up front. We thought we had an advantage there," he said. "You saw on the first drive we were able to block them and do a good job. Of course (Shrine) coach (John) Goddard made a great adjustment, kind of took that away from us. He went to a 50-front and started chopping us, so we kind of had to go away from that."

Senerius attempted only eight passes for the game for WOLL and was 4-of-10 for 81 yards (including the 46-yard touchdown). If Thomas didn't carry the football, junior Christian Heiss or Puma took the few carries that were left to try and fool the Shrine defenders.

WOLL had 12 first downs to six for Shrine.

The final play of the game for the Knights had WOLL junior Jake Clover making a tackle on a 4th-and-1 from the WOLL 46 to give Lakes the ball on downs. Lakes then ran out the clock, taking a knee.

- Al Fracassa was spotted watching the game with his wife. The legendary Brother Rice head coach, 82, started his coaching career at Shrine in 1960 through 1968 when Brother Rice called for him to become their coach in the fall of 1969. The rest is history after that. Fracassa went 44-19-5 and was a baseball coach at Shrine from 1961 through May, 1969. A picture in the Shrine Hall of Fame next to the school's new gym, which opened in 2008, shows a young Fracassa with a brush-cut, smiling, and arms folded.



WATERFORD OUR LADY OF THE LAKES 21, ROYAL OAK SHRINE 14

WOLL 7 0 7 7 – 21

ROS 7 0 7 0 – 14

WOLL – Vincent Puma 2 run (Spencer Howell kick)

ROS – John Lee 81 pass from Tim Niehaus (Steve Erwin kick)

WOLL – Sean Thomas 65 run (Howell kick)

ROS – Niehaus 24 run (Erwin kick)

WOLL – Howell 46 pass from Clay Senerius (Howell kick)

RECORDS – Lakes 4-2, 3-0 Detroit Catholic League Intersectional; Shrine Catholic 5-1, 2-1 Intersectional

Last Updated: 10/7/2013 4:14:10 PM EST

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