League play kicks off this weekend for most Catholic League teams, but before looking at this week's games, let's look back at Week 2 & 3.
- The Catholic League Central Division flexed its muscle over the first three weeks, going a combined 13-2 and those two losses were by a total of 12 points. Wins by Brother Rice, Catholic Central, and St. Mary's over traditional Ohio powers St. Ignatius and Toledo Whitmer certainly gave a lot of pride for high school football in the state of Michigan over their Ohio brethren. De La Salle's loss to Toledo Central Catholic is nothing to sneeze, especially given the way Central Catholic has handled their last two opponents.
- The battle for the AA looks like it will come down to Detroit Loyola and ND Prep - Loyola has fashioned two impressive wins against Class A opponents in East English Village and Bay City Central and a last minute win over Country Day. ND Prep has outscored its opponents 144-8 thus far this year and with a senior-laden team, the Fightin' Irish are not just looking for a league title, but also to make a run in the Division 4 playoffs. These two teams also have a shared history with Loyola Head Coach John Callahan previously serving the same role at ND Prep. Both Callahan and Kyle Zimmerman, ND Prep's Head Coach, are in their fifth year at their respective schools and both have made major strides with their respective programs. (Not to discount or dismiss that Jim MacDougall did win a District title at ND Prep in 2004.)
- In the Intersectional, three teams are 3-0 and Our Lady of the Lakes isn't one of them. Shrine, Riverview Gabriel Richard, and Bishop Foley are all 3-0 - for Shrine, this is the third straight year the Knights have started off 3-0, but for Bishop Foley, the last time the Ventures started 3-0 was 2001 and for Gabriel Richard, the last time the Pioneers started 3-0 was 1996. Certainly a lot of credit has to go to Bishop Foley Head Coach Sean Cobb and RGR's Tom Michaelsen. The Intersectional league title is going to be probably one of the most intriguing lower division races in recent memory, especially with the current one division intersectional format.
Looking ahead to Week 4...
- The Central Division kicks off divisional play Friday night with St. Mary's facing U of D at Ferndale High School, while De La Salle plays Brother Rice at Berkley High School on Saturday night. Catholic Central starts Central Division play next week.
- In the AA, the game of the week would be Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard versus Loyola at Gabriel Richard
- In the Intersectional, there are two games to watch: Bishop Foley versus Shrine and Riverview Gabriel Richard versus Cabrini - both are long-time rivalry games and all four teams have something to prove, especially with how the Intersectional Division could turn out in the end. Big games all around.
The fun is just starting, especially as we look forward to the showdowns coming up in Week 5, highlighted by THE rivalry in the Catholic League - Brother Rice vs. Catholic Central.
I was at the Royal Oak Shrine - Bishop Foley game on Friday and it was quite a game. Just a quick recap: It was Shrine's first night home game. They brought in lights and played in front of a very large crowd. The rain made the field pretty sloppy and both teams started the game slow. Shrine had a 7-0 lead at halftime. Foley scored on a long scoring drive in the third quarter, faked the EX attempt and the kicker was tackled before reaching the endzone. 7-6. Shrine scores in the fourth quarter with about 3 minutes left and misses the extra point. Foley, who had struggled on offense all day, drives down the field with a great no-huddle. They get into the redzone with under a minute left. On third down, ball on the 12, Shrine gets a late hit penalty out of bounds. After some confusion, it goes to fourth down (I still don't know the rule exactly) and Foley throws an incompletion in the endzone. Shrine took a knee and ended a really great, physical game.
Foley showed some flashes and were devastated at the end. Shrine looks strong and I expect they will enter Ford Field 8-0. Now I'm not sure if they'll play an Intersectional Team, but if they do, I think we could see a Shrine-Foley re-match Week 9. Possibly in the first two weeks of the playoffs as well.