It is every athlete’s dream to win the highest title they possible can. Winning the big one though is a dream that gets away from most and can be quite elusive. For all the high schools there are out there in all of the states, there isn’t many winners in the end.
Take Michigan for example, where they have eight divisions. This means only eight teams a year fulfill this dream.
Warren De La Salle Collegiate Pilots are one of those teams who haven’t been able to claim a state title. They reached the finals for Division II in 2008, only to lose. They even got as far as the semi-finals the following year. Since then they have moved up to division 1, could this be their year?
They have some pieces that give them a very good chance. Last year the Pilots had a record of 9-3, which was good for third in their conference. They made it to regional finals where they lost to the eventual state champions in Detroit Cass Tech Technicians
They will be lead by senior quarterback Shane Morris. The 6’3”, 183 pound quarterback is a 5-star recruit who has already committed to the Michigan Wolverines. He has good size and with a 4.6 40, he has good quickness that should help him elude pressure. If his line can keep him upright, he should be able to reward them by putting up points.
Joining him is another college prospect on the other side of the ball. Josh Cox is a 5’10”, 180 pound defensive back that is committed to the Central Michigan Chippewas. This 2-star recruit is going to look to shut down the opponent’s number 1 target and try to keep points off the board.
Their bid for a state title won’t be easy though. Week one the Pilots will have to face the Ann Arbor Pioneer Pioneers. Last year, Pioneer traveled to De La Salle and the Pioneers were sent home with a 43-28 beat down. The Pilots scored 29 in the second quarter of the route. If the Pilots want another big victory they will need a similar outing from Morris, who went 13-17 for 220 yards and 1 touchdown. He also added 3 carries for 27 yards and had 2 punts for 90 yards. On the other side of the ball Cox recorded 10 tackles, 3 of them solo and had an interception as well as fumble recovery. I predict the Pioneers will meet a similar fate against the Pilots when they host them and they will cruise to a 1-0 record.
Their schedule will get even harder as they will travel to Cleveland to face Saint Ignatius Wildcats. The Wildcats last year ranked 15th nationally and were considered to be the best team in Ohio. They went on to win the division 1 state title and this will be quite the test for the Pilots.
The Pilots’ non-conference schedule is rounded out by Dearborn Fordson Tractors and Vineland Niagara Academy of Sports in Niagara, Wisconsin.
Their conference schedule doesn’t get any easier for them either. The combine record of their opponents in their conference is 38-13. De La Salle will host Birmingham Brother Rice Warriors who is the defending division 2 state champions. They snuck past them last year with a score of 21-20 and they will be looking for similar success this year.
The Pilots will have to travel to the state runner-up in division 1 in Novi when they play Detroit Catholic Central Shamrocks. The Shamrocks won that game last year 14-10. From there they will host the conference champions in Orchard Lake Saint Mary’s Prep Eaglets, the defending division 3 state champions. The Eaglets beat the Pilots handily in 2011 with a score of 35-10. To finish off their conference schedule De La Salle will play against University of Detroit Jesuit. Last year the Pilots won 28-20.
Their schedule is tough, but if they can navigate the tough teams they have to play, this team could be poised to make a run at that elusive state title. 6 victories will get them into the playoffs, but playing two teams out of state, they will need to make sure that they play good ball in conference play. I see them beating Pioneer and Fordson, plus with an open date at the end of their schedule, they will probably play another conference teams again. If they make the playoffs this year, I see them going for a deep run with the experience of their seniors and from the tough schedule they play this year.