In Play with Tom Markowski

Top games: Muskegon picked to win 1st title since 2008, Cass Tech to get past CC

Football   | Tom Markowski

Top games: Muskegon picked to win 1st title since 2008, Cass Tech to get past CC

Detroit – John Callahan insists it’s all about the journey, not about winning.

Callahan is the head coach at Detroit Loyola and the Bulldogs have done their share of winning over the last five seasons. Loyola (11-2) will make its fourth appearance in a state final in the last five seasons when the Bulldogs play Pewamo-Westphalia (13-0) in the Division 7 final at Ford Field on Saturday at 10 a.m.

Loyola is an all-male Catholic school located on the city’s west side and its facilities are limited, and this fact is not limited to just football.

Not only doesn’t it have a home field to play its games, Loyola’s practice field resembles a vacant dirt lot. There are no goal posts. The field is perhaps 50 yards long and about 30 yards wide but to the coaches and the players, it’s no big deal. It’s what they have and they make the best of it.

“I know this week we’re preparing for a championship game,” Callahan said. “(Monday) night we had one of our lights go out and we had to huddle in one area to continue practice. We’re still having fun. We’re very fortunate.”

Loyola lost to Ishpeming in the 2012 and 2013 final before breaking through in ’14 winning the school’s first title, over Ishpeming, 29-8. Last season Loyola was run over by Pewamo-Westphalia, 30-0, in a state semifinal. Ishpeming then defeated the Pirates, 22-16, in the final.

Loyola normally fields a varsity of 30 players or so for the regular season. This season its numbers are down. Callahan said he’ll have around 35 players dressed for Saturday’s game, 11 of those are junior varsity players who were brought up for the playoffs.

And against the Pirates, Loyola will be without 1,000-yard rushers D’Anthony Robinson and Malcolm Mayes. Both running backs suffered season-ending injuries in last week’s 54-22 victory over Cassopolis.

That’s OK. Loyola has had to face adversity before and the Bulldogs will do it again. Callahan told his defensive unit they’ll have to play even better this week to overcome the obstacles.

“Our seniors have really stepped up,” he said. “This team has come together during the season.

“All I tell the students who come to Loyola to be a part of the program is that you will graduate. That we will give you the opportunity to play football and we will do the best to make you a man.”

Defensively, Loyola is led by senior middle linebacker Kailen Abrams (6-2, 218). Abrams, a three-year starter, also starts on offense at guard.

On offense Price Watkins is the quarterback. Watkins, a senior, never played quarterback before this season. Last season he started at defensive back, a position he plays this year as well. Pick: Pewamo-Westphalia by 8.


All games are at Ford Field

Friday games

Division 8

Muskegon Catholic Central (13-0) vs. Ottawa Lake Whiteford (13-0), 10: Should Whiteford win, not only would it be the school’s first state title, it would be the biggest upset of the playoffs in any division. C.C. is a powerhouse. Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart is the only team to score a point against C.C. in the playoffs. Sacred Heart lost, 68-7. The Crusaders are the three-time defending champion and would contend for the Division 6 title had they competed in that division. Pick: C.C. by 18


Division 2

Detroit King (11-2) vs. Walled Lake Western (12-1), 1: This has the makings of