FOOTBALL: Clarkston sacks previously unbeaten Stoney Creek |
BY DAN STICKRADT
CLARKSTON — DJ Zezula made a pact with Clarkston’s offensive linemen earlier in the week: If they held their own Friday against unbeaten Rochester Stoney Creek and the Wolves won, he would make sure that they were well fed well afterwards.
Clarkston’s front seven enjoyed quite a feast late Friday night.
Sixth-ranked Clarkston jumped on ninth-ranked Stoney Creek for 14 points before the game was even three minutes old, Centrus Williams rushed for a career-high 119 yards on 11 carries and Zezula finished with 200 passing yards on an 11-for-15 performance in leading the Wolves past the Cougars in an OAA Red Division showdown.
“I told the offensive linemen that the best motivator for linemen is food. I bribed them with free pizza if they didn’t get to me,” said Zezula.”I think they earned it. They did an amazing job.”
With one of the state’s biggest lines, Clarkston had plenty to time to operate on the offensive side of the football, while defensively, the Wolves forced a pair of turnovers and held Stoney Creek (4-1, 3-1) to a season-low in total yards (222 total yards).
“We scored right away, and then got the pick six and they’re on their heels. I don’t think (Stoney Creek) recovered from that,” said Clarkston coach Kurt Richardson. “We were up three scores at the half. We also had a long (98-yard) drive in the second half and I think that put the nail in the coffin.”
Williams, who transferred over from Macomb Dakota in the spring, broke free for a 46-yard touchdown spurt with 9:21 still left in the opening quarter for a quick 7-0 lead. Junior Merrick Canada returned an interception 25 yards for another score just seven seconds later and the Wolves (4-1, 4-0) were off and running with a 14-0 advantage with 9:14 remaining in the opening quarter.
Clarkston scored on its next drive, going 68 yards in nine plays with Williams scampering into the end zone from 2 yards out with 11:56 left in the second quarter. Timothy Cason made it 28-0 with 3:14 left in the half when he hauled in a 15-yard dart from Zezula.
“I think our offensive line, our front guys, deserve a lot of credit. We gave Zezula a lot of time tonight,” praised Richardson. “They made a huge difference tonight. I thought with the way Williams played, Caine Watlington played well and Zezula throwing the ball well. We (showcased) a lot of weapons. Our defense also played much better tonight.”
Stoney Creek, which was coming off its first-ever win over Lake Orion in Week 4 (36-7), finally broke the steak when Joe Cox caught a 2-yard scoring toss from Justin Allor just 23.2 ticks before the half.
The Cougars drove into Clarkston territory three other times, including inside the Wolves’ 5 yard line with 3:33 left in the third, but could not convert again.
“You can’t give a team like that a 14-0 lead. Even if we come back and play as hard as we can, it’s so hard to come back from 14 like that against a team like Clarkston,” sighed Stoney Creek coach Brad Zube. “We’re a better team than that. We’re a better team than 42-7, but it didn’t show tonight. We have to come back next week with a better effort against (Troy) Athens.
“Clarkston is massive up front. Until you match up with a team like that, it’s hard. You have to see that kind of size, get a feel for it,” continued Zube. “Clarkston is a well-coached football team. They have a talented bunch of kids. They got us tonight.”
Meanwhile, Clarkston tacked on two more scoring drives in the second half, including Caine Watlington’s 1-yard plunge with 11:54 left in the contest and Blake Rehahn’s 59-yard burst with 5:40 remaining to cap the scoring.
“We are starting to get where we should be,” said Richardson, whose squad won convincingly for the fourth straight week. “We are starting to put our heads in the helmet and play the way we expected.”
Shane Hynes was 6-for-6 on extra points with six touchbacks, Cason caught eight passes for 164 yards and Rehahn rushed for 89 yards on four carries behind Clarkston’s dominating offensive line. Clarkston again played without the services of All-State running back Ian Eriksen, who sat out with a knee injury.
Stoney Creek was held to 143 rushing yards and 79 passing yards in the contest. Nick Rangos had 56 yards on nine rushes and Allor finished 8-for-20 passing for 79 yards.
(Dan Stickradt is Senior Editor for Digital Daily www.northoaklandsports.com and The Real Deal sports and coupons magazine, as well as a freelance writer for multiple media outlets, including State Champs! High School Sports Show website. He is a 20-year veteran sports journalist based in Oakland County, Mich. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @LocalSportsFans.)
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