In Play with Tom Markowski

Romeo, back by a strong community showing, leads from start to finish, defeats Cass Tech 41-27 in the Division 1 final

Football   | Tom Markowski

Romeo, back by a strong community showing, leads from start to finish, defeats Cass Tech 41-27 in the Division 1 final



Detroit – The people in the towns of Romeo and Washington Township, two a sprawling communities in northern Macomb County, threw a party on Saturday. Instead of choosing their usual spots they held it in downtown Detroit. But after the afternoon festivities the party continued in the Romeo area, on 32 Mile Road, inside the school and elsewhere.

This was Romeo’s first state final appearance and the Bulldogs treated the throngs of their faithful fans, dare we guess 5,000 or so, to a feast. The Bulldogs were well prepared and not intimidated whatsoever by the surroundings, the magnitude of the game or the athleticism of Detroit Cass Tech.

Romeo never trailed and defeated a powerhouse from the Detroit Public School League, 41-27, to take home the Division 1 championship trophy.

Cass Tech was the team which was expected to play like champions. After all it was the Technicians that won the title in 2011 and ’12. This is a team that had won six consecutive regional titles and has a plethora of players who have been offered scholarships by Division I schools.

Cass Tech is accustomed to playing at Ford Field. It won the PSL title here in 2014 and this season lost in the PSL championship game to Detroit King.

It was Romeo that pulled out all of the tricks from a successful onside kick attempt to the hook ‘n ladder. The Bulldogs were the aggressor. They blocked a punt and, when other teams might have played conservatively, attempted four passes, all of which were completed, three for first downs, on a drive that started at their 25, lasted 12 plays and ended with Brad Tanner’s touchdown run that gave Romeo a 41-27 lead with 1:16 left.

Tanner a senior who plays a variety of positions, was the unofficial MVP as he had 130 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 13 carries.

This title had its beginnings in the early 1990s when Jason Couch and Curt Rienas, the program’s co-head coaches, played on some of Romeo’s best teams in this era for coaches Dennis Zbozen and Greg Ganfield. As a senior, Couch started at center for the 1992 team that lost to Walled Lake Western in the Class A semifinals. Rienas, then a sophomore, played linebacker and fullback that season.

Fast-forward to 2002 and Ganfield’s last season as head coach. Romeo opened the playoffs at Saginaw. Saginaw was ranked No. 1 in Division 1 and Romeo pulled off the upset of that season’s playoffs, 7-6.

“That started it,” Ganfield said. “The