FOOTBALL: CC'S Birney knocking them dead under center this fall, gaining steam in playoffs |
NOVI - During the course of Novi Detroit Catholic Central’s playoff run, there’s been something different about the Shamrock’s offense.
Catholic Central (10-2), known for their traditional punishing rushing attack, have added another dimension to their offense during the postseason; a potent passing game, behind senior quarterback Sean Birney.
After Birney threw for 130 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 37-27 win over Walled Lake Western in the district finals last week, the first-year starting signal-caller followed that performance up with another dazzling outing Friday on the road in the regional finals versus previously unbeaten Temperance Bedford .
Throwing for 178 yards passing and three touchdowns, including engineering a last-minute drive to win it, culminated by a scoring toss to junior tight end Nick Coccocetta in the closing seconds of the dramatic 34-33 victory, Birney was breathtaking in his performance in the clutch.
Birney knew that Catholic Central was in for a war and would have to fight tooth-and-nail to come out of Friday's down-to-the-wire battle with a fifth consecutive Division 1 regional crown.
“We played them (Bedford) in our four-way scrimmage before this season too,” he said. “We knew they had a tough defense, I knew they were going to come out and give us a game tonight. And that's what they did. But we were ready and didn't stop fighting the entire way. That's the kind of team we are.”
And that's the kind of competitor he is.
On the Shamrocks' final drive of the game, Birney completed five of six pass attempts to march Catholic Central down the field and put his team scoring position. Moments later, he perfectly executed a play-action pass and found Cococcetta for a four yard touchdown to give his team a one-point lead with 30 seconds left, an advantage it wouldn't surrender.
“We’ve been airing it out a little more in the playoffs, so it’s becoming kind of normal to me now,” Birney said.
The game-winning drive Birney orchestrated covered 61 yards in eight plays and lasted just 91 seconds.
His first two touchdown connections went to the Bock brothers, a 30 yarder to senior Zach Bock and an 80-yard bomb to sophomore Alex Bock.
Two weeks ago, Birney was named first-team All-Catholic League.
Catholic Central head coach Tom Mach said that Birney has been a calming presence for his team this season.
“Sean is really cool headed,” he said. “He’s a great competitor, and he’s done a great job for us from the beginning of the year until now. He’s a runner who makes great runs and he also makes great decisions and he made a lot of great decisions today. He has made a lot of key throws and these are absolute must-complete throws and he put them right on the money. If you've seen our games this year it's pretty obvious he does a great job.”
Birney and the Shamrocks will now prepare to face Detroit Cass Tech in the state semifinals this weekend in a rematch of the last two state championship games.
Next year, Birney will be playing lacrosse in college at the University of Detroit-Mercy. Once at U-D Mercy, he'll be joining up with his older brother, Mike, currently a junior with the Titans and like his younger sibling a former Catholic Central field general. During the 2010 campaign, Mike quarterbacked the team to a district title.Tweet