De La Salle hoping history, and a state football title, repeats

Warren De La Salle tacklers take down a Detroit Catholic Central ball carrier during the Prep Bowl championships in October. For the third time in five seasons, the Pilots will play for the state championship this Friday at Ford Field. (Gregg McIntosh | Special to Detroit Catholic)

The De La Salle Pilots from Warren are hoping history will repeat itself when they kick off at 1 p.m. Friday (Nov. 23) at Ford Field.

More specifically, recent history. The last two times they were in the MHSAA Division 2 finals, they ended up as champions.

Last year, De La Salle erupted for 31 points in the second quarter to easily dispose of Livonia Franklin, 41-6.

Four years ago, the Pilots had their way with Muskegon Mona Shores – this year’s opponent – drowning the Sailors, 44-8.

This year will be the fifth time the Pilots will be playing for the state high school grand prize in football. Here’s a look back:  

In 2006, with 3:15 left to play, De La Salle trailed Muskegon, 32-30. The Pilots had one last opportunity. They got the ball back at Muskegon’s 49-yard line. On third and nine at the 36, quarterback Brian Lewis hit split end Don Fowler with a pass. Muskegon safety Ron Johnson forced a fumble at the goal line, recovered by Muskegon in the end zone for a touchback. End of threat.

Fullback Jimmy Berezik scored three times (7-yard run, 89-yard kickoff return, 3-yard run), tight end Dave Blackburn combined with Lewis on a 57-yard touchdown pass, and Kyle Torzy kicked a 30-yard field goal plus three of four extra points.

In 2008, De La Salle faced Muskegon again with a far different result. The Big Reds led 27-0 before the Pilots scored. The final was 34-14. De La Salle scores came on a one-yard run by halfback Tim Zabawa and a 16-yard run by quarterback Josh Singoga. Andrew Stebens kicked the extra points.

In 2014, Mona Shores came to town with an offense averaging 39.5 points per game and rushing for more than 3,000 yards. However, the De La Salle defense limited the Sailors to only 99 on the ground and 201 total.

The Pilots amassed 387 yards of total offense – but, curiously, only 89 in the air. Quarterback Joey Garbarino attempted only seven passes and completed them. He scored twice on a one-yard plunge and an 8-yard run.

Back Allen Stritzinger (17 carries, 176 yards) ran 56 yards for a touchdown. 

Jake Townsley kicked 41-, 23- and 29-yard field goals. End Alex Spicuzzi caught a five-yard pass from Garbarino and lineman Austin Ballard returned a blocked punt five yards to round out the scoring.

In 2017, it was another lopsided victory. The Pilots scored all of their points before Franklin found the end zone early in the fourth quarter. De La Salle had 313 yards of total offense, most of it coming through the air. Quarterback Luke Pfromm was 10 for 12 for 207 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran two yards for a touchdown.

The Pilots wasted no time. Just 16 seconds into the game, lineman Brandan Madigan ran 13 yards with a fumble for six points.

Pfromm connected for a 60-yard pass play to Evan Vaillancourt and a four-yard toss to Sergio Gasperoni. Cordell Tannyhill ran two yards and Isaac Moore 5 yards for touchdowns.

Riley Garrison got in on the fun with field goals from 23 and 30 yards away and five extra points.

So, what are we to expect this year? Mona Shores (12-1) brings another powerful offense, averaging 45 points a game. Across the scrimmage line will be a stingy De La Salle (11-2) defensive unit, permitting a measly 8.7 points a game for the season, but peaking at the right time during the playoffs, allowing just two touchdowns and two field goals in four games.

Once the referee blows his whistle to start the game, you can toss these statistics away. You will witness history being made before your eyes. They are the statistics that will mean the most.