Lapeer was the new kid on the block last season.
In its first year of existence after the district combined Lapeer East and Lapeer West to form Lapeer High, things could not have gone smoother.
The Lighting had an unbeaten regular season, then beat Romeo in the first round of the state playoffs before losing to Clarkston, 23-20, in the closest playoff game Clarkston had on its way to winning the Division 1 state title.
While some of the names on the field are different, not much else has changed about the Lighting, which ripped previously unbeaten Midland, 49-21, in a key Saginaw Valley Red game in Midland on Friday.
“It’s a different kind of team, that’s for sure,” coach Mike Smith said. “We’re really playing well together. We’ve stayed incredibly healthy, too, and who we’re playing hasn’t been.”
Midland was without top receiver Luke DeLong, but quarterback Payton DeWildt still was able to complete 31 of 51 passes for 356 yards and three touchdowns.
But in trying to protect DeWildt, Midland was flagged for 17 penalties, many of them holding calls. With Lapeer’s 6-foot-2, 265-pound Dan Perry, a state champion wrestler who will wrestle at Michigan, and 6-2, 230 David Kray, the Chemics’ offensive linemen often were in a precarious position.
Midland did a better job tackling Lapeer’s defensive linemen than they did trying to lasso running back Mike Marston, a transfer from Goodrich who ran for 334 yards on 26 carries and scored five touchdowns.
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“He’s been a huge deal,” Smith said. “He’s fit in well with our team. Obviously, he’s playing really good football. He’s got good speed and good vision. He cuts really well, and he’s physical, too. I guess ‘competitive’ is a good way to describe him.”
In preparing for Midland, the Lapeer coaches changed the offense a bit. Wide receiver Drew Rubick played quarterback in the wildcat formation and scored two TDs. Marston also found himself in that spot.
“We added some wrinkles to get Mike the ball, and that worked out well for us,” Smith said. “We had some different formations and shifts just to get him the ball in some situations where maybe it was an empty backfield and he was the quarterback, and he handled all of that stuff real well.”
The Lapeer players handled the transition from two schools and two football teams to one school with only one team better than could have been expected.
Perhaps the way the two coaching staffs meshed set the tone for the players.
“Our coaching staff is the strength of what we do,” Smith said. “We have a lot of quality coaches, and everyone has a lot of input. I think the kids see the coaching staff work together as well as we are and, hence, they work pretty well together as players.”
Week 7 Michigan high school football scores
big win for Trenton
Trenton coach Bob Czarnecki realized that sometimes you just have to trust your kid.
Quarterback Patrick Czarnecki had just thrown a touchdown pass to Daniel Hampton to pull the Trojans within a point of Downriver League powerhouse Wyandotte on its possession in overtime. A simple conversion kick would have sent the game to a second overtime.
The sensible thing would have been to kick the ball and try to win in the second overtime, but the quarterback wanted none of it.
“Dad,” the quarterback said, “I’ll get it in.”
The toughest part of coaching your kid is trying differentiate between your roles.
“He had a look on his face,” Bob Czarnecki said. “Sometimes you’ve just got to defer to them when they get that look, like they’re confident it’s going to happen.”
The younger Czarnecki kept the ball on a bootleg and was hit near the goal line, but was able to cross it to give Trenton a 22-21 victory.
It was Trenton’s first victory over Ron Adams’ Wyandotte team since 2006.
The way Czarnecki has it figured, the win was due to the mental makeup of his players.
“It was believing we could,” he said. “A lot of the time they’ve been better than we were and there wasn’t all that much we could do. But there were a couple of years sprinkled in there that I thought we were as good, but when something bad would happen, we’d slip back into that mode that we were going to lose to them because they’d lost in ninth grade to them and 10th grade and junior high. I think it was just a group that has its own separate identity this year.”
The Trojans are 6-1 and tied for first with Allen Park.
Czarnecki hopes this win will pay dividends down the road.
“I’ve always respected what Ron has done at Wyandotte, and it’s a hurdle that we had run into a number of times and could never get over,” Czarnecki said. “Maybe this will help us a little bit in the future.”
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.
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