MADISON HEIGHTS — The Royal Oak Shrine football team did something unexpected in last Friday’s game against Bishop Foley: It scored a touchdown.
The Knights were nearly obliterated in the first two games of the season, 50-0 and 49-0.
They almost made it three in a row. With just 4.2 seconds to play, sophomore quarterback Jack Tisko struggled for two yards into the end zone.
Shrine lost the game, 33-6, which helped make a difference for Bishop Foley. It was the Ventures’ first win after two season-opening defeats.
The bulk of Shrine’s roster consists of nine sophomores and eight freshmen, a semblance of a junior varsity, along with three juniors and a senior.
“The reality,” said first-year coach Brent Widdows, “is we’re not playing for score; we’re playing to get better. We are a young team playing against seniors and juniors who are established young men, and we’re boys. If we played seventh and eighth graders, you wouldn’t expect them to score. It’s not an excuse. They are hungry to get better. That’s what keeps me motivated. That’s what keeps them motivated.”
The opportunity for the Knights’ touchdown was set up on the unlikely combination of a 1-yard punt and a 15-yard pass interference penalty that gave Shrine the ball at the Ventures’ 22 with 1:22 left on the clock.
A 7-yard run by Tisko and a 12-yard end sweep by freshman Jayce Foster moved the ball to the 3-yard line. Sophomore Nate Allen moved it up a yard for Tisko’s heroics.
Shrine had a golden opportunity for a score early in the first quarter. Sophomore starting quarterback Caydin Barbato hit sophomore Nate Alba in full stride for a 51-yard pass to the Ventures 2-yard line. A pair of major penalties doomed that chance.
Barbato, by the way, suffered a broken collarbone early in the second quarter. He was 3 for 4 for 65 yards. Tisko completed six of 17 passes for 43 yards but was plagued by four interceptions and a 10-yard sack. He rushed 15 times for net 48 yards.
Bishop Foley took a 6-0 first-half lead on a 30-yard pass from junior Mason Kanar to sophomore end Noah Cronk-Koehler.
The Ventures increased their lead to 20-0 in the third quarter. Kanar (11 carries, 77 yards) scored from seven yards out, and Cronk-Koehler caught a 36-yard pass from junior quarterback Tad Dobek (9 for 16, 168 yards).
Senior Gabe Martini accounted for Foley’s two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, a 5-yard run and a 17-yard pass from Dobek.
“We like that we were aggressive on defense,” Foley’s seventh-year coach Brian Barnes said. “The defense played really well. Our offense is trying to find an identity with new players. After the last couple weeks, we’ll go back to who we are and what we know.”
Bishop Foley was 18-3 the last two years including back-to-back Catholic League Cardinal Division championships.
“This group hasn’t had any success on their own,” Barnes said. “Some of them got some playing time the last couple years, but not a lot. I hope this will be a confidence thing.”
In the 33-year history between these two schools, Foley holds a 17-16 edge.
Both teams will play at 1 p.m. Saturday: Bishop Foley at Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood and Shrine at Marine City Cardinal Mooney.
A clash of state champions
The long-anticipated meeting of a pair of defending state champions will happen at 7 p.m. Saturday in Toledo.
Warren De La Salle, Michigan’s Division 2 state champs the last two years, will face off against Central Catholic, Ohio’s Division 2 titlist.
The Pilots (2-1 overall, 1-0 CHSL Central Division) lost the season opener, 31-26, to Davison in a game in which the first half was played on a Thursday evening and, because of threatening storms, the second half the next afternoon.
De La Salle handily beat Muskegon, 40-28, and Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Prep, 41-27.
Central Catholic (4-0, 2-0) has powered past Findlay, 47-14, Toledo Whitmer, 35-8, Novi Detroit Catholic Central, 42-21, and Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice, 33-7.
Welcome, Lumen Christi
Jackson Lumen Christi will play its first game as a member of the CHSL when it hosts University of Detroit Jesuit at 7 p.m. Friday.
Lumen Christi is the defending Michigan Division 7 champion and is currently rated No. 1 in Division 7. The Titans are undefeated and unscored upon after their first three games: Michigan Center, 41-0, Decatur, 42-0, and Richland Gull Lake, 28-0.
The Cubs are also undefeated: vs. Oak Park, 47-14, Birmingham Seaholm, 28-14, and Windsor Holy Name, 33-7.
Lumen Christi has won two earlier games against U-D Jesuit: 33-27 in 2003 and 42-23 in 2005.
Contact Don Horkey at [email protected].