CHSL Media Day: Returning state champions enter 2015 with high expectations once againFootball  |
Orchard Lake – The three state champions to come out of the Catholic League in 2014 are entering the 2015 season with high expectations once again.
In the Catholic League Central Division, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, the Division 3 state champions from last year, was selected as the No. 1 preseason team in the Division, while Warren De La Salle, the Division 2 state Champions in 2014 was selected as the No. 2 team.
In the AA Division, 2014 Division 7 state champion Detroit Loyola, along with Dearborn Divine Child, were selected as the top teams entering 2015.
Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes was selected as the top preseason team in the Intersectional Division.
St. Mary’s will be returning a number of its players from last year’s team in 2015, including offensive lineman and Northwestern commit Cameron Kolwich, highly recruited linebacker Josh Ross and senior quarterback Brendan Tabone.
Porritt said that while it is nice to be picked as the top team in the preseason in the A-B Division, he and his players know that with how competitive the league is, there is little room for error as the Eaglets look to repeat in Division 3.
“It puts us in the hot spot,” he said. “Every year, the Catholic League, you’ve got to be ready, because you could be picked No. 1, but you could end up being four or five. That’s just the way our league is, it’s that good and a team can get you any week and I respect our league for that and that’s why I think we have the top league in the state.”
For De La Salle, the Pilots will look to replace a starting quarterback for a third straight year and senior Josh Wilk figures to step in and take over as the signal caller after Joe Garbarino led the Pilots to their first title in school history.
Running back Allen Stritzinger, who has picked up several scholarship offers since last season, is a key returner for coach Paul Verska and will be joined by defensive back Tru Wilson, tight end and defensive end Drew Beesley and lineman Jordan Asbury as the Pilots have their sights set on another big season.
Verska said that there is definitely a lot of excitement for De La Salle heading into 2015, but added that he wants this year’s team to focus on this upcoming season, while embracing last year’s success.
“It’s the same for the coaches, but I think it’s a little different for the kids,” he said. “We had that euphoria for a few months and we brought them back to reality and started working towards this year and preparing for it. I told them what are they going to be remembered for? 2014 is remembered, but how are they going to be remembered? So we’re going to embrace the past, but not live in it, that’s our motto for this year and hopefully, we’re going to have some success.”
After missing the playoffs in 2014, Detroit Catholic Central was predicted to finish in third place in the Central Division, while Birmingham Brother Rice and Detroit U-D Jesuit were selected to finish foruth and fifth respectively.
Detroit Loyola graduated several players off of last year’s team, but returns seven starters from the 2014 team, including senior quarterback Nick Lee, offensive lineman and linebacker Anthony Fitpatrick and running back and defensive back Blaine Woodland.
Loyola coach John Callahan said there is a new attitude coming from his team entering this fall after winning a state title last year and credited his senior leaders for taking a leadership role over the summer.
“There’s been a noticeable difference in attitude with the kids coming in and the biggest thing since I’ve been here, the senior leadership that’s developed through the years,” he said. “Our seniors know exactly what they need to do to take care of the younger kids and the younger kids have fallen right into place, so that’s been a real positive in helping us through the summer.”
Divine Child, with key returners in quarterback Jimmy Seewald and receivers Danny Blade and Shane Fugate are also picked to finish at the top of the CHSL AA Division.
After Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes finished the 2014 season with a 9-2 record and ended the season with a second round loss in the playoffs, the Lakers are looking to take a step forward in 2015 and were chosen to win the Intersectional title for a second straight year.
Starting quarterback Clay Senerius and wide receivers Devin Senerius and Chris Cartier are some of the top returners for the Lakers this fall.
After the Lakers had tough exits in the football and basketball playoffs last year, third year coach Josh Sawicki said that the goal for his team is to win key games and also be able to win games that his team isn’t necessarily expected to.
“We want to win big games and win the games that we’re not supposed to,” he said. “Find the inches in big moments, the way our basketball season ended last year, the way our football season ended last year, both of those were opportunities where our kids could have grabbed the big moment and we didn’t grab the big moment and that’s what we want to do.”