By Wendi Reardon Price
Clarkston News Sports Writer
Independence Township — The Wolves were on their fourth down with only seconds to go in the MHSAA Division 1 Football Regional 2 playoff against Rochester Adams last Friday night at home.
With 1.8 seconds to go, Clarkston senior Steven Kossak connected a 7-yard touchdown pass to junior Desman Stephens to put the Wolves up 34-33 against the Highlanders.
“They just gave me a great ball and I made the play,” Stephens said. “They said they were going to throw me a shot in the huddle on that last time out. I knew we had the match up we wanted.”
Kossak passed again to Stephens for a 2-point conversion, ending the night with a 36-33 win to claim the regional championship and a trip to the semifinal game this Saturday.
“It feels great,” Stephens said about heading to the semifinal game after beating Rochester Adams for the second time this season. “We all know it’s hard to beat a team twice especially on our home turf. I knew they were going to come for revenge. It was tight in the first half, but in the end we stuck together.”
Rochester Adams was the first to score for the night with a 45-yard touchdown run from Jake Sukkar six minutes into the game.
The Wolves tied it three minutes later with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Kossak to junior Brody Kosin and a PAT from junior Eddie Langton, 7-7.
The Highlanders took the lead back three minutes into the second quarter with another touchdown.
But the lead was short lived as Stephens made a touchdown on an 83-yard kick return while avoiding Rochester Adams’ defense blocks on his way to the end zone. Langton was successful on the PAT and the score was tied at 14-14.
“Desman is a stud,” said Clarkston Varsity Football Head Coach Justin Pintar. “He is an unbelievable player. Talk about a kid making play after play when you needed it – the kick return, the touchdown pass and then you catch one at the end. Who does that? Who catches a touchdown pass to win the game, throws for a touchdown pass, returns one on a kick, it’s incredible.”
The Highlanders scored with five minutes left in the half with a 13-yard touchdown run from Sukkar to lead, 21-14.
The next possession for the Highlanders ended early with an interception by freshman Wolf Griffin Boman, starting the Wolves on the 43-yard line with 2:13 to go in the first half.
With 1:08 left on the clock, Stephens made a 38-yard touchdown pass to senior Cole Church, finishing the first half 21-21 after a PAT from Langton.
Pintar added the message to the team to keep them going was simple.
“We said guys we haven’t played our best football yet,” he shared.
The third quarter was scoreless for both teams but the Wolves finished the period with the ball on the 2-yard line on the third down.
Three seconds into the final quarter, senior Ethan Clark scored on a 2-yard touchdown run. A PAT from Langton put the Wolves up, 28-21.
Rochester Adams scored with 8:31 left in the game with a 34-yard touchdown pass from Parker Picot to Brady Prieskorn. The Highlanders missed the PAT keeping the Wolves ahead by one, 28-27.
They struck again with three minutes to go in the game with a 42-yard touchdown by Picot. They missed on their 2-point conversion attempt to lead 33-28.
“The second half we made some adjustments,” said Pintar. “I thought the defense did a fantastic job in the second half. It hurt giving up that touchdown there late. But for most of that half they did a great job. I was proud of how they played. We just kept grinding away offensively. It wasn’t our cleanest game offensively, but that’s a very well-coached team on the other side. Those kids compete. They play as hard as anybody that we see. To go and put up 36 points that’s a great defense we were able to do that against even though it wasn’t the prettiest.”
Clarkston (10-2) plays Caledonia (11-1) on Saturday at 1 p.m. at DeWitt High School. Tickets available on gofan.co.
“We just want to prove to everybody we are not sleepers. We are the runners. For the rest of the teams in the state – watch out. We are coming.”