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Novi Detroit Catholic Central's David Houle (38) makes his way through the Rockford defense during Saturday's 23-20 overtime victory over the Rams. (Special to The Oakland Press/LARRY McKEE)

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FOOTBALL FINALS: Catholic Central looking for its 12th state championship

NOVI — On Saturday at Ford Field, Novi Detroit Catholic Central will be going for its 12th state football championship in school history.

Only two other prep programs in the state have ever reached that plateau.

Standing in the Shamrocks way en route to their possible second Division 1 state title in three years is upstart Detroit Cass Tech.

Head coach Tom Mach, seeking his 11th ring on the sidelines leading Catholic Central, knows his team is in for a battle against the upset hungry Technicians, winners over favorites Utica Eisenhower and Warren De La Salle in the past two rounds of the state tournament.

“Those guys over at Cass are big and fast and I expect a real competitive game come this weekend,” he said. “Our defense and our ability to contain their speed and athleticism will be the key to coming out with the victory.”

Catholic Central’s defense has been playing great all season, giving up barely 10 points per contest and garnering three shutouts. University of Michigan-commit Matt Godin highlights the Shamrocks’ attack up front and all-league cornerback Dave Racey anchors the team’s secondary.

In the regional final, the team’s defensive unit held Drake Johnson, the state’s leading rusher, to less than 50 yards in Catholic Central’s 21-0 win over Ann Arbor Pioneer.

Mach and the Shamrocks (12-1) defeated fellow state heavyweight Rockford last week in the semifinals, 23-20 in overtime, courtesy of an 8-yard touchdown hook-up between senior quarterback Kyle Cooper and junior tailback Anthony Darkangelo on the final play of the extra session.

Cooper headlines an unusually potent Catholic Central passing attack this year, along with Division I-recruited tight end Matt Doneth. The pair’s chemistry isn’t limited to the gridiron either, since they also star together on the school’s basketball team, making up one of the most fearsome forward tandems in the area.

“We’re ready for a war on Saturday,” Doneth said. “Cass Tech has a lot of playmakers on its roster and so do we, so it should be an exciting matchup. We’ve worked extra hard to get to this game and now we have to take advantage and play big on the biggest possible stage. I know we can do it and I’m going to do everything in my power to make it happen.”

Cass Tech (10-3) is only the second team in Detroit Public School League history to advance to the state championship game. The Technicians pack quite a punch with their own group of standouts, including University of Michigan recruits Terry Richardson (cornerback) and Royce Jenkins-Stone (linebacker-running back). An Achilles’ heel for Cass Tech in the game could be freshman quarterback Ja’ru Campbell, who although playing relatively well, is only the second freshman in state history to quarterback a team into the state finals.

Last Updated: 11/23/2011 9:43:29 PM EST


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