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Posted on Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 5:36 p.m.

Pioneer football team shut down and shut out by Detroit Catholic Central defense

By Pete Cunningham


Pioneer running back Drake Johnson (2) is stopped by the Detroit Catholic Central defense during the Shamrocks' 21-0 Division 1 regional win Saturday.

Joe Tobianski |

NOVI -- The defense for the Detroit Catholic Central football team didn’t want to be known as the one that Drake Johnson broke the state record for rushing yards in a season against.

Mission accomplished.

The Shamrocks dominated the line of scrimmage in the Division 1 regional championship game on Saturday, holding the Pioneer High School star running back to just 43 rushing yards and Pioneer to 32 yards of total offense in a 21-0 victory.

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Johnson ended the season with 2,800 rushing yards -- 90 shy of the single-season state record -- as Catholic Central advanced to next weekend’s state semifinals against Rockford.

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“They’re physical, probably the best O- and D-line we faced all year,” said Pioneer coach Paul Test. “We weren’t able to do what we do which is run power and counter (long pause) and run the ball.”

The driveway of Detroit Catholic Central’s campus is lined with signs in support of the football team. The students and parents yell loudly throughout the game for the team that’s been atop the state rankings all season long.

Johnson said he thought his team was “shell shocked” by its surroundings.

“I think when we came out, our whole team was scared at first,” Johnson said. “Our team, they were caught in the awe of it. The ‘glory’ that’s DCC.”

Johnson wasn’t the only one that noticed.

“They were surprised, you could tell, at the way we came out,” said Catholic Central two-way lineman Matt Godin, a University of Michigan commit. “We were just more physical than their offensive line.”

Catholic Central didn’t do anything fancy, just ran in chunks, eating up clock and keeping the ball away from Pioneer.

The Shamrocks (11-1) opened the game with a 13-play, 66-yard touchdown drive that ate up seven minutes, 14 seconds of clock. Catholic Central went up 7-0 after a 3-yard run by Zach Bock, who led all rushers with 96 yards on 14 carries.

The opening drive was more yardage and plays than Pioneer would manage the entire half. Catholic Central took a 14-0 lead into the break after scoring on a 4:10 drive in the second quarter.

Catholic Central came out with a similar approach in the second half, forcing a three and out on Pioneer’s first possession, then methodically driving the ball down the field.

“There’s no use trying fool too many people at this point in time,” said Catholic Central coach Tom Mach of his run-heavy offense. “Until somebody makes us change it, then we’ll keep on doing it.”

Catholic Central went up 21-0 on a 10-yard run by Anthony Darkangelo with 8:22 left in the third. It was Darkangelo’s second touchdown of the game and the plenty more than the Shamrocks would need.

Pioneer would manage just two first downs the entire second half, and three total for the game.

“They didn’t want any of it in the second half," Godin said. "You could see it in their eyes. Their offensive line didn’t want to hit.”

Pete Cunningham covers sports for He can be reached at or by phone at 734-623-2561. Follow him on Twitter @petcunningham.


say it plain

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 5:46 p.m.

Sure does sound like sour grapes to complain about your opponents 'recruiting' when your own player list included someone vying to break a state record!


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 4:06 p.m.

You can't attribute the sentiments expressed in the comments to the Pioneer team. The coach's as well as the player's comments were pretty straightforward and included no "sour grapes."


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 5:09 a.m.

Great Article! CC does not recruit. They don't need to recruit for their total school program sells itself. From the first moment I walked into CC to check it out, my son and I could tell that there was something much more going on then just showing up for school. Personally, I am so thankful to CC for it isn't just about sports there. Sports are just the icing. The sports are strong because of the "great family-brother atmosphere" and the guidance by all facility to "be the best you can be." The upper classmen are truly men to look up to and the lower classmen strive to raise up to higher personal/group goals. The class work is really tough, standards in behavior/morals are required, and if you can't make the grade or stand up with integrity, you are out. It doesn't matter who you are. Everyone is encouraged to help each other. A few years ago, I pictured my son being able to choose 2 directions--jail or success. That was not acceptable to me. In public school, it was questionable which path he would choose so we moved him to CC. In Detroit Catholic Central, he has had to work harder than ever in sports just to be able to play because of the standards that all the kids set. In 1 semester, this kid changed his behavior, and his will to step it up in school for it mattered. He looks forward to going to school every day because of the brotherhood, fun and challenges to be the best you can be! I thank Detroit Catholic Central daily. I was proud of both of the schools today, all of us CC parents clapped for the Ann Arbor Pioneer kids as they left the field for it was a tough game and we truly wished them well. CC a "football" factory---no way! Sour grapes... Proud to be a Shamrock!


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 1:28 a.m.

gotta love those catholic (semi pro) teams playing high school football. Hats off to Pioneer for playing with kids from the neighborhood. CC is just a football factory going out and recruiting kids, training them year round. The MHSAA is a joke. the private and catholic schools should have their own cheaters division. Schools like Pioneer shouldn't have to compete against an uneven playing field. It's funny, all that religion, and still no decency or humility in victory. God Bless, I guess.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 12:39 p.m.

All of the Catholic schools have the advantage of taking kids from any geographic area while the public schools are limited to in-district or foreign exchange students. Plus many all boys schools are put in lower divisions even though in reality they have as many boys in their scholls as a public school with twice that many students. Maybe the Catholic schools should have their own championships.

Jim Mulchay

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 1:24 p.m.

I believe Pioneer had a U-M football recruit (from Florida) for one football season a few years back, and Saline had a similar situation with a QB that went to MSU, I believe; Public vs Private is a big issue this time of year - the tough thing is if you feel your child will do better in a certain school (music, academics, athletics, etc.) won't you try to get them there? Also the private schools don't have to sweat out state funding each year!