Lake Orion advances to state football finals with 24-21 victory over Detroit Cass Tech
Jake Thielen | MLive.com, November 20, 2010 9:48 p.m.
Tyler Misiak’s fumble recovery with 32 seconds left sealed a 24-21 win for Lake Orion High School over Detroit Cass Tech in a Division 1 football semifinal Saturday afternoon.
The key play came after Detroit Cass Tech had driven the ball all the way inside the Lake Orion 10-yard line in the final minute.
On second-and-4 from the 6-yard line, Cass Tech quarterback Keith Moore lined up in the shotgun formation. Moore took the snap, but was hit by Lake Orion’s Andrew Shafkalis as he attempted to pitch the ball to receiver Keenan Smith.
“I went straight for the quarterback, and I just stripped the ball out of his hands,” Shafkalis said. “It’s the greatest feeling right now, and our defense, we came up big all year.”
Players from both teams scrambled for the loose ball before Misiak finally fell on it near the Lake Orion 25-yard line, setting off a wild celebration on the Lake Orion sideline.
“I saw the ball fly up in the air,” Misiak said. “A kid had it on their team, and I just ripped it out of his hands.
Lake Orion will move on to face Plymouth (11-3), which defeated Rockford 20-17, next Saturday at 1 p.m. in the Division 1 championship game at Ford Field.
Misiak said he wasn’t nervous on Cass Tech’s final drive.
“(Assistant coach John Blackstock) was telling us the whole game, since the first quarter, it’s going to come down to the last drive, and look what happened,” Misiak said. “It came down to the last drive, and he said we will not lose this game.
“Coach instills confidence in us, and that helps a ton. I had no doubt at all, because I knew one of my brothers was going to come up big.”
The game nearly ended two plays before the fumble, when Cass Tech faced a fourth-and-16 from the Lake Orion 36-yard line. But Cass Tech receiver Terry Richardson made a nice adjustment on the pass from Moore and picked up 24 yards to keep the drive alive.
Lake Orion coach Chris Bell said the final drive was an emotional roller coaster.
“That’s a great team, and it’s one of those games that’s a shame that somebody had to lose,” Bell said. “It came down to who was going to make the last play, and our kids made it.”
Lake Orion was playing without its star quarterback, Sean Charette, who missed the game with a broken foot suffered last week against Utica Eisenhower.
With Charette out, the Dragons relied heavily on the running game, which was led by senior Marques Stevenson. Stevenson had 26 carries for 180 yards and two touchdowns.
“Honestly, I knew I was going to have to carry the rock a lot this week because Sean was out,” Stevenson said. “For me it was just playing my game.
“Coach Bell just told me it’s not my responsibility to win the game. It’s a team effort.”
Bell said Stevenson has played well all year long.
“He breaks a lot of big runs, but he’s our workhorse,” Bell said. “We had to control the ball, and keep their athletes off the field.
“The offensive line did a great job, and they didn’t have an answer for Danny (Ney) on the perimeter. That helped spread guys out and open the door for Marques.”
Cole Schanenzer started in place of Charette, and threw for 132 yards on 5-of-12 passing, including a 16-yard touchdown pass to Robert Aiello in the second quarter.
“We have all the confidence in Cole Schaenzer, and he played a great game,” Stevenson said. “He managed the game, and he stepped in and did exactly what he told us to do.”
Bell was also impressed with Schaenzer’s performance.
“Cole did a nice job when we needed him to make some plays,” Bell said. “We’re not surprised because we know how good a quarterback he is.
“He’s a multiple sport athlete. He’s a pitcher for our baseball team, and also plays center field, so he’s been in big games and pressure situations. He knows how to handle it.”
Schaenzer had a key 48-yard completion to Danny Ney in the fourth quarter on a second-and-16 from the Dragons’ 36-yard line. The Dragons failed to score on that drive, but the completion forced Cass Tech to have to drive 82 yards for a potential winning score.
“It changed the field position completely, and changed the momentum of the game,” Ney said. “All game we had been trying to fight for yardage, and we thought they had stopped us there.
“The seam came open, Cole threw a great ball and from there I just broke it free.”
Detroit Cass Tech looked to be in control of the game early, as running back Christian Burks scored on a 15-yard run on the game’s opening possession.
Burks finished the game with 142 yards on 18 carries and three touchdowns.
“Christian’s very valuable,” Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher said. “Any time you get a back that can rush for over 100, 200 yards in a game, he’s got to be valuable.
“He’s a great player, and I think he’ll go far. I think he’ll play at the next level.”
After Burks’ 46-yard run in the second quarter gave Cass Tech a 14-7 lead, the Technicians allowed Lake Orion to score 17 straight points. The scoring run gave the Dragons a 24-14 lead midway through the third quarter, and Cass Tech was unable to overcome that deficit.
Wilcher said the difference in the game was the Technicians’ inability to stop the Lake Orion running game.
“I just thought we might stop the jet sweep better than we did,” Wilcher said. “We just didn’t make the adjustments quick enough.
“Because we had to stop the jet sweep, it opened it up for (Stevenson). We didn’t really control the line of scrimmage like I thought we would.”