By Wendi Reardon Price
Clarkston News Sports Writer
Independence Township — Cheers of excitement filled the Clarkston High School stadium as senior Desman Stephens caught the kick off return from Rochester Adams to start the game in the Wolves Varsity Football’s 28-7 home opener win last Friday.
Stephens ran the ball until he was stopped on the Highlanders’ 17-yard line to begin play for Clarkston.
Six plays later, Stephens scored on a 3-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Brady Collins with 8:39 remaining in the first quarter. The PAT attempt was no good, putting Clarkston up, 6-0.
“We talk about it every game – that we want to get off to a fast start,” said Clarkston Varsity Football Head Coach Justin Pintar. “Guys like Des give us that ability. We know when he’s back there he’s a threat every time he touches the ball. He is such a special player. When we know they are going to kick it deep, we feel pretty good about what he is going to be able to do especially if you see a little crease open up. You know he is going to fly through it.”
The Wolves defense was quick to shut Adams down, keeping them within five yards during four downs.
Stephens caught the Highlanders’ punt and ran the ball into Adams’ territory again and was stopped on the 48-yard line.
It was just a pause in his run. On the next play Stephens was handed the ball and he made his 48-yard touchdown run with six minutes left in the quarter. Stephens was handed the ball again and he passed it to senior Brody Kosin for a 2-point conversion, putting the score 14-0.
“We did the same thing last year – that we put the ball in (Des’) hands and he ran one back on the kick off and threw one,” said Pintar. “We always feel good about putting the ball in his hands. We’ve got to find ways to give him the football, whatever that might be.”
Eight seconds into the second quarter, the Wolves scored again on a 5-yard touchdown by senior Ryan Rector. A PAT from senior Eddie Langton put the Wolves up 21-0.
The Highlanders barely had the ball on their next possession when senior Wolf Luke Leiendecker intercepted the pass on the first play.
Adams scored as time ran out in the first half when sophomore quarterback Ryland Watters scored on a 7-yard touchdown run. Adams senior Adrian Monter scored on the PAT, 21-7.
“Adams is a really good football team, they were 2-0 coming in. Those guys are always well coached,” Pintar said. “We knew it would be a battle. Even when we got up 21-0 they didn’t go away, they didn’t back down at all and they kept it right until the fourth quarter. Then, our defense was able to get some key stops. We talked about it here at the end – they were able to move the ball a little bit but when we needed key stops our defense really stepped up and made some huge plays on that side of the ball.”
One of the key stops was an interception by senior Adam Denver with eight minutes remaining in the game as Adams closed in on Clarkston’s end zone.
“Two weeks in a row I thought he has played outstanding at corner,” Pintar said about Denver. “Last week he had an assignment against some outstanding wide receivers out of Southfield and really held his own. This week same thing. You have (Brady) Prieskorn who is a 6-6 target going to Michigan and I thought he did a phenomenal job for him to come out with that pick. He made a great play on the ball and just took it from them. We talked a lot about make a play on the football and that was what he did. Our guys just did a great job of stepping up when we needed to and get stops when we needed to.”
The Wolves took over on their own 22-yard line and finished their play with a 52-yard touchdown run by sophomore Griffin Boman with 2:07 left on the clock.
Boman was the leading rusher with 124 yards on 20 carries. Stephens carried the ball four times for 57 yards and Collins had nine carries for 38 yards.
Collins completed seven passes for 63 yards. Kosin caught four passes for 55 yards.
Pintar shared offensive and defensive lines had a great night. He added they were on point in their 20-17 loss to Southfield Arts & Technology, Sept. 1.
“We played really well last week,” he said. “We just made some mistakes that cost us against a really good football team. Then, this week we played really well again and we didn’t make those mistakes – that was the difference.
The win puts the Wolves 1-0 in the OAA Red.
“What we said as of last week this is a new season now,” Pintar said. “We are starting league play and all these league games count for two. We are starting from scratch – that’s how we approach that. We also talked about the fact last week we played really well, five to six plays that we really shot ourselves in the foot. You can’t do that against good teams, you can’t do that in the league.”
Clarkston heads to Stoney Creek (1-2, 0-1) this Friday.
“They are a very well coached football team,” Pintar said. “They are a team that is going to play hard. They are going to give everything they have. They have a tackle who is a very good player. He is a D1 player, he can move people. He is going to be someone I know they are going to want to run behind. They kept us really close last year. We aren’t going to take them lightly.”
Kick off is 7 p.m.
By Wendi Reardon Price