With a trip to the state title game on the line, Wyandotte Roosevelt will play Birmingham Brother Rice Saturday at 1 p.m. at Gibraltar Carlson High School in the MHSAA Division 2 state semifinal game.
Saturday’s winner will take on either Muskegon or Caledonia next Friday at Ford Field for the Division 2 state championship.
The Bears (11-1) will be facing one of the most storied programs in the state in Brother Rice (10-2), which is the defending Division 2 state champ.
Coached by the legendary Al Fracassa for 44 years, the Warriors have won seven state titles and have not recorded a losing season since 1985.
To earn a spot in the semifinals, Roosevelt has beaten Woodhaven 31-14, Truman 9-0 and Oak Park 10-6 in the 2012 playoffs. Brother Rice has knocked off Port Huron 47-26, Oxford 38-6 and Walled Lake Western 42-12.
This season marks the first time Roosevelt has played in the state semifinal game since 2001, and the first time ever under current head coach Ron Adams, who took over in 2004.
Adams said his team has done well blocking out the additional hype that has come along with playing in such a big game. He also said the Bears will not approach Saturday’s contest any differently than any other game this season, despite being a heavy underdog Saturday.
“I think we have a very good perspective on things,” Adams said. “I think we understand the task at hand (and) respect the opportunity. We’re going to prepare like we have all season.”
Below is a quick breakdown of how the two teams match up against each other:
Although the Bears have scored only one touchdown in their last two games combined, the squad has proven this season that it can put a lot of points on the board.
Running backs D’Aries Davis and Aaron Robinson have combined for 1,033 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns. Quarterback Kevin Matejko has thrown for nearly 1,600 yards and has 18 touchdown passes this season. Receivers Devan Stewart and Brandon Sowards have combined for almost 1,200 receiving yards and 16 touchdown receptions.
Brother Rice Offense
The Warriors are averaging about 42 points per game so far in the 2012 playoffs and have posted lopsided wins against all three opponents they have faced in the postseason.
Overall this season, running back Brian Walker has rushed for 1,352 yards and 20 touchdowns, while Shon Powell has run for 725 yards and 11 touchdowns. Quarterback Cheyne Lacanaria has thrown for about 1,200 yards and has tossed 17 touchdown passes. Quarterback Alex Malzone has thrown only 21 passes this year, but 12 have been caught for touchdowns.
After a 64-point disaster in Week 6 at Woodhaven, the Roosevelt defense has completely stymied opponents. High-scoring Taylor Truman could barely even move the ball two weeks ago against Wyandotte and Oak Park only scored once against the Bears last week.
Linebacker Damon Singleton holds the team lead in sacks this year with five. Linebackers Aaron O’Meara and Andrew Noles have combined for 120 tackles. Stewart and Sowards have picked off a combined nine passes this season and have both run back interceptions for touchdowns.
Brother Rice Defense
Despite having faced some of the best offenses in the state this year, Brother Rice has only given up an average of about 15 points per game, through 12 games.
The Warriors have sacked opposing quarterbacks 46 times so far, with defensive end Kevin Henry leading the way with nine. Safety Jason Alessi leads the team in interceptions with four and linebacker Jon Reschke leads in solo tackles with 74.
Jacob Simpson has been outstanding this year as the Wyandotte kicker. He has made 45 extra point attempts and has nailed 11 field goals, five of which have come in the playoffs.
Last week Simpson made a field goal from 33 yards that had plenty of distance to spare. Should the Bears need points in a close game, they know Simpson has the range and accuracy to put the ball through the uprights.
Brother Rice Kicker
Alessi, who is a safety, serves as the Brother Rice kicker. This season he has put up numbers similar to Simpson’s, making 45 extra points and hitting nine field goals.
The leg of Alessi gives the Warriors yet another scoring option in their already deep arsenal of point-scoring weapons.
Saturday’s game begins at 1 p.m. at Gibraltar Carlson High School, which is located at 30550 W Jefferson in Gibraltar. Gates open at 11:30 a.m. and tickets are $6.
For those unable to attend the game, Wyandotte Patch will be hosting a live chat throughout the game, bringing minute-by-minute updates of what's going on, both on and off the field. This is in addition to the Facebook updates normally done for Friday night lights.