Clarkston linebacker Dom Monson closes in on a tackle in the first round of the playoffs vs. Oxford a few weeks ago. Proving a true force of nature this year, Monson helped guide the Wolves to a D1 regional crown on Saturday afternoon. (Oakland Press file photo)
PREP NOTEBOOK: Brother Rice, CC & Clarkston sport fearsome, yet under the radar LB crews
The high-wattage names like Reschke, Cherocci, Darkangelo and Calvano are gone, off doing their thing on the gridiron at the college level.
Regardless, Oakland County’s three remaining teams in the state football tournament, Birmingham Brother Rice, Novi Detroit Catholic Central and Clarkston have all benefitted from exceptional linebacker play this year, overcoming their respective graduation losses to shine with ferocity.
Two-time Division 2 defending state champion Brother Rice (12-0) has an unheralded linebacker unit, led by seniors Shaun Jones, Jack Grisan and Joe Plaskey.
Jones and Grisan are the catalysts for the corps, having recorded 60 tackles apiece. They are both emotional leaders and intense competitors, flying around all the time making things happen.
Plaskey, who has only been starting half the season, has already registered 55 tackles and is a pesky presence on every snap.
Reserve backer Joe Lewandowski posted a game-high 10 tackles in Brother Rice’s 41-14 torching of Detroit U-D Jesuit in the regional finals Saturday afternoon. Grisan, a Warriors’ co-captain, came away with an interception.
The future of the linebacker spot at Brother Rice lies at the doorstep of Riley Maher, a tenacious sophomore that is on the shelf with an injury, but started the Warriors’ first handful of games.
Catholic Central (10-2) has a nails-tough linebacker brigade, too. The Shamrocks’ made it a three-peat as Division 1 regional champs Friday night, edging past Temperance Bedford 34-33.
Seniors Danny Collins, Ryan McGillivary and David Wright and junior Jordan Jenkins are each relentless in pursuit of opposing ball-carriers and just plain nasty sideline-to-sideline.
Jenkins has emerged as one of the best defensive players in the area, racking up more than 100 tackles this fall. Collins moved to a linebacker slot from cornerback at mid-season and has adjusted magnificently, giving Catholic Central aggressive and smart play against the run and the pass. McGillivary and Wright are quintessential “glue guys,” and do a gritty job flanking Jenkins and Collins.
Clarkston’s group of hard-working linebackers has been quietly causing destruction all year long. Dominick Monson, Blake Rehahn and Quinn Montgomery are senior stalwarts, while, D.J. Rogers and Ross Manssur are juniors just beginning to make a name for themselves.
Monson is a top-notch play-caller for the unit in the middle and its’ heart and soul. In Clarkston's 56-28 shellacking of Rochester Adams in a District 2 regional championship game over the weekend, Monson tallied 10 tackles and a sack for a Wolves' club the raised its record to 11-1.
Clarkston lifted its afternoon playoff football hex in its blasting of Adams Saturday, snagging the program’s first-ever postseason victory not played in the evening. Last year, the Wolves lost a Saturday afternoon affair to Rockford in the regional finals.
Making up for lost time
After trampling into the end zone 35 times last year as a junior, Clarkston senior football star Ian Eriksen missed more than half the regular season this fall, however has still managed to score 17 touchdowns. Eriksen, an all-state pick in 2012, is committed to Eastern Michigan. Versus Adams on Saturday, he blazed across the goal-line on three separate occasions.
Tweet of the week
"I love practicing in the snow," - Catholic Central football star Zach Bock on his team's penchant for long playoff runs earlier in the week as him and his Shamrocks teammates prepared for a D1 regional title tilt on the road against Temperance Bedford (a 34-33 Catholic Central win).