In Play with Tom Markowski

Garbarino shows leadership as De La Salle defeats East English

Football   | Tom Markowski

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Detroit – Quarterback Joey Garbarino won’t wow you with his arm strength. He doesn’t possess sprinter’s speed nor is Garbarino being recruited by major schools.

If you’re looking a leader, a player who isn’t afraid of being called upon to make a key play at critical times, Garbarino is your guy.

Garbarino is making the most of his opportunity, his one opportunity to be the leader of Warren De La Salle team that is a legitimate contender for the Division 2 title.

Garbarino, a senior who became a starter this season, ran for one touchdown and passed for another as De La Salle (8-3) defeated Detroit East English Village Prep 21-14 in a district final on Friday at Wayne State.

De La Salle will play the winner of Saturday’s game between top-ranked Birmingham Brother Rice (10-0) and Birmingham Groves (7-3) in a region final next week. The Brother Rice-Groves game will be played at Hurley Field in Berkley at 1 p.m.

It’s De La Salle’s first district title since 2011 and the victory removes some of the bitter taste the Pilots have had to endure this season. Each of their three losses came in the final minute of play including a 28-21 loss to Brother Rice.

Garbarino rushed for 75 yards on 19 carries and completed 3-of-7 passes for 51 yards. His 29-yard touchdown pass to Miles Charley with 5:55 left in the third quarter gave De La Salle a 21-8 lead.

That play stood out among the rest. Garbarino’s pass hit Charley in stride down the right sideline and not only gave the Pilots a 13-point lead, it stunned East English. It was just the second touchdown pass the Bulldogs allowed this season. East English coach Rod Oden called it a “back-breaker”.

It was also the little things, plays and decisions Garbarino that often go unnoticed that enabled the Pilots to win.

On De La Salle’s first drive Garbarino gained eight yards on a third-and-3 setting up Allen Stritzinger’s 3-yard touchdown run.

Trailing 8-7, the Pilots faced a fourth-and-1 from the East English 12 late in the first half. By changing his cadence Garbarino drew the defense offside giving De La Salle a first down. Four plays later he scored on a 1-yard sneak with 1:01 left to give the Pilots a 14-8 lead.

Three other times Garbarino drew East English offside with his cadence.

After East English (7-4) pulled to within 21-14 on Anton Curtis’ 1-yard sneak with 4:54 remaining De La Salle was able to run out the clock thanks to running back Stritzinger (15 carries, 51 yards) and Garbarino. Stritzinger carried five times on the drive for 25 yards and Garbarino had four carries for 10 yards. With 2:32 left and the Pilots faced with a fourth-and-1, Garbarino gained two yards and with East English out of time outs time ran out on the Bulldogs.

 But for East English, time is on its side. Oden started just five seniors, three on offense and two on defense. This team will be better next season and could be the front-runner for the Detroit Public School League title.