Everest makes history, keeps hope alive for a shot at state championship

Everest senior running back Jack Lasceski was near unstoppable in the regional final against Petersburg Summerfield, which the Mountaineers won, 35-0. Lasceski gained 160 yards on 18 carries, scored two touchdowns and passed for a third one. (Photos courtesy of Joseph Brzezinski)

BRIGHTON — Blowouts were the theme of the Michigan High School Athletic Association regional football finals played Saturday.

A blowout, here defined as at least a 21-point differential between the victors and the vanquished, occurred in 17 of 29 contests (three others were 1-0 forfeits because of COVID-19 concerns) in eight divisions. At stake was an opportunity to win one more game this coming weekend to qualify for the state finals Jan. 22-23 at Ford Field.

Two Catholic High School League squads are still in the hunt.

On the happy side of the final score were Warren De La Salle, which handily took care of neighbor Warren Mott, 45-3, in Division 2, and Clarkston Everest Collegiate, with a 35-0 humbling of Petersburg Summerfield in Division 8.

Detroit Loyola’s season came to a disappointing conclusion by virtue of a 41-7 shellacking in Division 7 administered by New Lothrop.

Novi Detroit Catholic Central’s 20-7 loss in Division 1 to Davison wasn’t a blowout on the scoreboard, thanks only to its stalwart defense, which had its hands full compensating for the Shamrocks’ anemic offense.

Everest makes history on two levels

The Mountaineers compiled their first 10-win season, including a COVID-related forfeit, and its first regional trophy in its brief eight-year history.

Coach Mike Pruchnicki’s free-wheeling crew took up where they left off eight weeks ago when high school sports came to a standstill amid the pandemic.

Linebackers Diego Ramirez-Gomez and Joe Milosch combined for a nine-yard sack of Summerfield’s quarterback on the game’s second play to establish Everest’s defensive posture.

Coach Mike Pruchnicki, who has coached Everest’s football fortunes throughout its eight-year history, adjusts the helmet of his quarterback for the last three years, Giovanni Mastromatteo. The senior signal-caller has led Everest to three consecutive CHSL Prep Bowl championships and into position for a shot at a state title. 

Six plays later, on fourth and 14 from the 22-yard line, the offense introduced its presence. Quarterback Giovanni Mastromatteo hit Johnny Nedwick down the right sideline for a touchdown.

The romp was on.

Senior halfback Jack Lasceski crashed five yards into the end zone for a 14-0 lead late in the first quarter. He would score again to make it 21-0 at halftime on a six-yard blast up the middle.

Lasceski, at 6 feet and 205 pounds, was near unstoppable. He was responsible for 160 yards on 18 carries of Everest’s 273-yard ground attack. The Mountaineers added 109 yards in the air.

“Those five guys in front of me are incredible,” he said, referencing the offensive lineup of tackles Jonathan Brzezinski and Diego Ramirez-Gomez, guards Johnny Suran and Aidan Beauchamp, and center Dominic Engle.

Everest took the second-half kickoff 69 yards in just under eight minutes for another touchdown that Lasceski had his hand in this time. From the five-yard line, he tossed the ball in the air to 6-foot-2 Michael McGrath, who outjumped defenders to bring it in.

A sideline observer said, “That’s why he (McGrath) is the center on our basketball team.”

Mastromatteo notched his second touchdown pass with a 30-yard aerial to Jimmy Neme in the end zone to close out the scoring. Joey Thibodeau converted five extra points.

Summerfield, which came into the game having scored 105 points in its three district games, was virtually helpless. The offense totaled a mere 49 yards; the quarterback was sacked for 30 yards; the Bulldogs had possession just once on Everest’s side of the 50, and that was to the 49.

Three passes that might have put the Bulldogs deeper in Mountaineers territory were picked off by Nathan Beggs, Nedwick and Suran.

All wasn’t rosy for Everest. Mastromatteo didn’t have his usual pinpoint accuracy and was intercepted twice. Everest was flagged for 80 yards in penalties, including three for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“We were sloppy at first,” Lasceski said. “But we cleaned it up. We stayed within ourselves. We want to make more history.”

The Everest Mountaineers celebrate the school’s first Division 8 regional trophy after dominating Petersburg Summerfield, 35-0. But it isn’t the trophy they really want. They have to get past Centreville in a semi-final match Friday, Jan. 15, to have a crack at winning the state championship Jan. 22 at Ford Field.

Part of that history hinges on the players continuing to come up negative on the three-a-week COVID-19 tests that athletes across the state have been taking since late December.

“All have passed so far,” reported athletic director Ann Lowney. 

On tap: More history in the making?

Everest will put its perfect 10-0 record on the line in a Division 8 semi-final showdown at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15, against Centreville, from southwest Michigan, sporting its first unbeaten record (9-0) since 1962.

Centreville is averaging 27-3 scores in its schedule with five shutouts, two during the playoffs. The Bulldogs won their first regional title last Saturday, shutting down Sand Creek, 8-0, which had been averaging 45 points all season long.

Everest is averaging 38-4 results, also with five shutouts, three in the playoffs.

The game will be played indoors at the Legacy Center in Brighton.

De La Salle (6-4) will host Oak Park (5-5) at 12 noon on Saturday, Jan. 16, in a Division 2 semi-final. Oak Park downed Livonia Churchill, 30-23, to advance in the playoffs.

Both teams have turned their fortunes around in the state playoffs, each winning four games along with district and regional titles.

Oak Park started the season 1-4, the Pilots 2-4.

Contact Don Horkey at [email protected]