Catholic League teams go 14-4 in opening football week; Lutheran North hails dramatic win

Among the opening week in Catholic High School League football, Macomb Lutheran North rallied for an improbable 21-14 win after a lightning storm delayed the game for 12 hours, while reigning state champion Warren De La Salle will look to rebound in Week 2 after a 41-7 drubbing by Muskegon. 

LIVONIA — Here’s a football game Macomb Lutheran North players and fans will talk about for years and years.

The Mustangs drove 99-and-half yards in a minute to beat Clarenceville 21-14.

And, it took nearly 18 hours to play the game. It all got under way at 7 p.m. last Thursday, Aug. 29, and ended about noon the next day.

Senior quarterback Angelo Basilisco had parlayed touchdown passes to junior wide receiver Matt Drdul and end Gary Glaser into a 14-6 lead, when about halfway through the fourth quarter, the skies opened with a thunder-and-lightning downpour, forcing a suspension of play with Clarenceville threatening on Lutheran North’s 3-yard line.

The squads resumed the game at 11 o’clock the next morning.

The Trojans scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion to tie the score at 14-14. With 1-minute, 15 seconds to play, Clarenceville posed another threat with fourth down on the Mustangs' 1-yard line.

“They tried running up the middle,” coach Garrett Wenzelburger said. “We stopped them on the half-yard line. We have a young defense, but we had the faith they could do it.”

The scoreboard clock showed 1:10.

“Our concern was to move the ball a little bit away from the end zone, to prevent maybe a safety or a fumble,” he said.

Lutheran North had no timeouts remaining, but the Mustangs had the combination of Basilisco and Drdul. The game appeared headed for overtime. The notion of going all out for the win didn’t enter in the Mustangs' realm of possibility until Basilisco and Drdul completed a 40-yard pass play.

“There were about 50 seconds to play. We thought, ‘maybe,’” the coach said.

Basilisco and Drdul successfully combined for two more pass plays to move the line of scrimmage to Clarenceville’s 29-yard line.

There were 13 seconds remaining in the game, and Basilisco spiked the ball to stop the clock.

He then lofted the ball to the end zone — “a kind of Hail Mary,” Wenzelburger said — where Drdul outwrestled a pair of defenders to catch it for the victory. Seven seconds remained. 

It took all of 63 seconds to produce an ending of which Hollywood would be jealous.

For the game, Basilisco completed 17 of 26 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 71 yards. Drdul caught seven passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns.

Wenzelburger was asked about the effect the suspension of play had on his team.

“Well, some of the kids were worn out,” Wenzelburger said. “But coming back the next day gave some of them time to catch their breath. You always want your team to face some adversity, so they’ll be prepared for such moments. But I’d be hard-pressed to think of anything like this one.

“They grew up quickly,” he added.

A game to forget

Warren De La Salle will have to deal with plenty of adversity in the wake of Muskegon’s dismantling of the Pilots, 41-7.

It was De La Salle’s third season-opening loss in a row.

“We got beat in every aspect of the game,” coach Mike Giannone said afterward. “We’ll be back, just like we have before.”

“Before” was just a year ago when the Pilots lost to Muskegon, 36-21, and the year before that when Lowell thumped the Pilots 36-6. In both instances, De La Salle rebounded to go 12-1 the rest of the way en route to consecutive Division 2 state championships.

Junior running back Brett Stanley ran 17 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter that momentarily tied the game at 7-7.

Around the league

The CHSL was 14-4 in the opening round of the 2019 season. Here’s how the other teams fared, starting with the squads that will be heading into the second week of action with 1-0 records:

Ann Arbor Fr. Gabriel Richard 31, Clio 8

Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice 7, Utica Eisenhower 0

It seemed that Rice’s senior linebacker Cameron Terrill spent more time in Eisenhower’s backfield than their own runners. The Warriors’ defense recorded eight sacks and limited Eisenhower to 78 total yards. Terrill had a hand in five tackles for lost yardage, including four sacks, and linebacker Ohannes Sarkisian accounted for three sacks. Senior quarterback Greg Piscopink (15 of 22 passes for 141 yards) scored on a 7-yard run late in the second quarter.

Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood 41, Pontiac 0

Jack Fairman scored two touchdowns and Jacob Peruski intercepted two passes, converting one into a TD, to lead the Cranes.

Clarkston Everest 37, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian 13

Dearborn Divine Child 46, Garden City 25

University of Detroit Jesuit 17, Roseville 6

Nick Johnson (8 carries, 71 yards) rushed for one touchdown and scored another with an intercepted pass. Aaron Richard rushed for 78 yards on 22 carries, and Carson Hinton recorded an interception for Jesuit.

Madison Heights Bishop Foley 54, Detroit University Prep 8

Xavier Glosson had 143 yards rushing on 13 carries with one touchdown to lead the Ventures.

Marine City Cardinal Mooney 7, Sterling Heights Parkway Christian 0

Novi Detroit Catholic Central 24, Detroit Martin Luther King 22

In their first four possessions, the Shamrocks built a 24-0 first-half lead. They cashed in on a pair of early King turnovers. Mo Jaffer recovered a fumble on the first play of the game, and the next time King had the ball, Zach Rood intercepted a pass. Brendin Yatooma scored on 5- and 1-yard runs. Charlie Mentzer kicked a 32-yard field goal. Quarterback Jack Beno directed a 75-yard drive, climaxed by Cole Price’s 3-yard touchdown run. King rallied in the second half, only to be stymied again by another turnover, an interception by Price with 1:20 to play in the game. Catholic Central’s defense limited King’s running attack to 38 yards on 17 carries.

Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Prep 28, Macomb Dakota 14

The Eaglets mounted a commanding ground attack: Anthony Anton (15 carries, 138 yards, a touchdown), Garnett Davis (18 runs, 129 yards), Lance Hillie (7 runs, 65 yards). Davis opened St. Mary’s scoring with a first-quarter 1-yard run and closed it with a 21-yard pick-six to seal the victory.

Riverview Gabriel Richard 21, Grosse Ile 15

Richard’s secondary intercepted four passes, the last one with just 1:26 to play to thwart Grosse Ile’s last-minute rally. Quarterback Joe Wisniewski passed 20 yards to Quinn Hess, fullback Nathan Palumbo plunged two yards, and Nick Szczechowski ran back the second half kickoff 95 yards for touchdowns.

Royal Oak Shrine 28, Whitmore Lake 14

Connor Benson passed for touchdowns to Alex Amenio and Jay Piekowski, and Jacob Sanders had two rushing touchdowns.

Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes 35, Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett 0.

Along with De La Salle, these teams will be seeking their first win:

Detroit Voyageur Prep 18, Allen Park Cabrini 15

Lowell 19, Detroit Loyola 6