Future Wolverines square off in Pioneer playoff loss and more notes
Joe Tobianski | AnnArbor.com
NOVI -- Pioneer High School football fans who are also University of Michigan fans got a glimpse of the Wolverines' future in Saturday's Division 1 state quarterfinal at Detroit Catholic Central High School.
Catholic Central's Matthew Godin, a 6-5, 270-pound defensive tackle who has committed to Michigan, was part of the defense that held Pioneer running back Drake Johnson to 43 yards rushing in a 21-0 win.
Johnson, who came within less than 100 yards of setting a state record for rushing yards in a season, committed to Michigan this week.
"I got it, and it was back to practice the next day," Johnson said, asserting the distraction of his decision had nothing to do with his struggles. "It's something I can look forward to now (that the season's over)."
In a few months, Godin and Johnson will be teammates, but they were adversaries on Saturday with Godin's defense getting the better of Johnson and the Pioneer offense. It was the first game Johnson has been held under 100 yards and out of the end zone all season.
"That was our goal, to keep him under 100 yards, and we kept him under 50 yards, so we’re really proud of it," Godin said.
Wyatt Shallman, a 6-3, 260-pound junior defensive end has Michigan among his finalists. He didn't play due to a hamstring injury sustained against Birmingham Brother Rice a few weeks ago, but said the injuries have healed to the point where he thinks he can play next weekend in the state semifinals.
"They had a pretty big challenge in Drake Johnson and they handled it greatly," Shallman said of his defense.
It's rare that Johnson gains more yards punting than rushing. It's even rarer that he gains more yards on one punt than he does rushing for the entire game
But a 61-yard first-quarter punt downed at the Catholic Central 4-yard line accomplished that. CC's returner let it hit at the 20 and could only watch as it took a Pioneer bounce.
Johnson said he thinks it's the longest punt of his career. He also returned a first-half kickoff 40 yards to the Pioneer 44.
In the first half, facing third-and-11 from its own 5-yard-line, Pioneer coach Paul Test had Johnson take a direct snap in a shotgun formation.
Not for a "Wildcat" play, but to punt. Yes, on third down.
"It was just a quick kick because we were inside our own five and trying to create some field position," said Test. "Punting it out of there before they were ready for a punt."
If the point of the play was the element of surprise, it accomplished that.
"We were surprised," said Catholic Central coach Tom Mach. "We weren’t expecting that."
The play was also fodder for the rowdy Catholic Central student section, which chanted "punt" every time a third down arose.
Run, run, run
Catholic Central passed the ball eight times on Saturday, which Mach considered "airing it out." Mach made no mystery of why his team keeps the ball on the ground.
"There’s no use trying fool too many people at this point in time," Mach said. "Until somebody makes us change it, then we’ll keep on doing it."
Pioneer was shut out for the first time since a season-opening 35-0 loss to Canton in 2006, a streak of 61 games.
Pete Cunningham contributed to this report.
Jason Idalski covers sports for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.