It’s been a breeze so far in Everest’s quest for a state football title

Everest junior Nathan Beggs had the end zone in sight in this 39-yard run for a touchdown against Parkway Christian. He also scored two other times, on 1- and 13-yard runs. The Mountaineers routed Parkway 47-0 to put themselves into a district final against Royal Oak Shrine on Nov. 14. (Photos courtesy of Joe Brzezinski)

Mountaineers rack up convincing wins, 47-0, 41-7 and 35-0 on pathway toward first championship

CLARKSTON — The Mountaineers have reached the third level of their six-tier ascent to the top of the state high school playoff for the Division 8 football championship.

To be frank, it’s been a breeze. So far.

Everest Collegiate trounced a clearly outmanned squad from Sterling Heights Parkway Christian last Friday evening, 47-0.

That was an encore to the 41-0 beating they administered in the opening round a week earlier to Rochester Hills Lutheran Northwest.

In fact, dating back a month to the last pair of games in the regular season, Everest’s defenders have been downright nasty in protecting the sanctity of its end zone, not allowing opponents any kind of score in 15 of 16 quarters, the last dozen in a row.

Royal Oak Shrine spoiled the line of goose eggs with a touchdown in the closing seconds of a 41-7 drubbing. Everest then vanquished Riverview Gabriel Richard, 35-0, for its third consecutive Prep Bowl trophy.

Shrine (6-2) and Everest (8-0) will meet again at 1 p.m. Saturday on Everest’s field. At stake will be advancement to the regional round.

The Knights will be out to erase memories of the lopsided loss to Everest four weeks ago, but more so by the desire to repeat as district champions. Everest won the district three years ago.

No way Everest linebacker Gavin Harris (20) was going to let the Parkway Christian runner get away. The tenacity of the Mountaineers’ defense has prevented opponents from scoring in 15 of 16 quarters, the last dozen in a row.

In state tournament play, Shrine walloped Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes, 41-6, and defeated Auburn Hills Oakland Christian, 28-19.

It appears the quarterbacks will be central to both squads’ success. Shrine quarterback Conor Benson completed 15 of 21 passes for 275 yards and four touchdowns against Oakland Christian.

Everest’s Giovanni Mastromatteo completed five passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns against Parkway Christian, but he played just the first half as coach Mike Pruchnicki benched most of the starters in the second half, just as he did in the game against Lutheran Northwest.

Mastromatteo’s touchdown pass plays covered 32 yards to Jimmy Neme and 57 yards to Joey Thibodeau, who caught the ball in the right flat, then raced diagonally across the field to the left sideline.

Junior Nathan Beggs scored three times on 1-, 13- and 39-yard runs. Thibodeau succeeded Mastromatteo under center in the second half and scored on a 32-yard keeper. Jimmy Neme added a 2-yard score. Thibodeau kicked five extra points.

Pruchnicki didn’t express any concern that his starters have played limited time in the blowout games.

“They are all practicing hard and are prepared for the games. The kids are tough. They give a great effort,” he said.

Three starters sidelined with ankle injuries are expected to be in uniform against Shrine. The team’s leading rusher and a stalwart at linebacker, Jack Lasceski, hasn’t played since the Prep Bowl game three weeks ago. 

Defensive back Gavin Ryeson was sidelined two weeks ago. Senior wide receiver Mike McGrath was injured on the kickoff against Parkway Christian and watched his teammates with an icebag strapped to his leg. 

Two of seven CHSL teams sure bets to lose

Seven Catholic League teams are still alive and well in the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s football playoffs the coming weekend, Friday-Saturday, Nov. 13-14.

Two of them are sure bets to see their seasons end.

Four of the teams will be playing each other. In addition to the Shrine at Everest contest at 1 p.m. Saturday, Madison Heights Bishop Foley (7-1) will clash in a Division 7 final with Detroit Loyola (7-1) at 7 p.m. Friday on Bishop Foley’s turf.

The other CHSL squads in action:

In Division 1, Novi Detroit Catholic (8-0) at White Lake Lakeland (7-1), 1 p.m. Saturday.

In Division 2, Warren De La Salle (4-4) at Port Huron (8-0), 7 p.m. Friday.

In Division 3, Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (7-1) at Chelsea (8-0), 7 p.m. Friday. 

Mercy, Marian headed for a volleyball showdown?

Two archrival CHSL volleyball powerhouses are on track for a showdown. Defending Division 1 champ Farmington Hills Mercy and Bloomfield Hills Marian could face one another in a regional final at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 12.

That’s if they both prevail in the opening round two days earlier, on Nov. 10: Mercy vs. Berkley at 6 p.m. and Marian vs. Dearborn Fordson at 8 p.m. The games will be played at Troy Athens High School.

Marian beat Mercy for the CHSL championship a month ago. The last time the Mustangs won over the Marlins had occurred in the state semi-finals, 3-1, on Nov. 16, 2017.