November 27, 2013 - Clarkston's gridiron heroes fought through snow and cold to make history, as they sealed the deal for the school's first trip to Ford Field, beating Carman-Ainsworth, 61-26.
"It was great," said long-time head coach Kurt Richardson. "It was very satisfying to watch them as they had made school history and had fun afterwards. It was cool."
"It was an awesome game," added Tony Miller, defensive coordinator. "It was a very special moment in Clarkston Football history. It was cold and nasty day and the kids came to play. They wanted to be the team who would go the farthest."
The Wolves are heading to the Division 1 MHSAA Football State Finals, Saturday, to take on Novi Detroit Catholic Central (11-2). Novi defeated Cass Tech in their semifinal game, 28-0.
"They are a very good football team," Richardson said. "They have an outstanding power running game. They play great defense. They are very solid."
He added the Wolves will have to be more physical than they were against Carman-Ainsworth.
"I keep telling them that – every week gets more physical," Richardson said. "We are going to have to stop them from controlling the clock. We are going to have to put some points on the board."
"They always say defense wins championships," Miller added. "If our defense can show up and play we have a chance to win a state championship. They will have a tough task at hand, no doubt about it. It's a very good program they have executed very well. They are very sound. We have to be very sound on the defensive end of the ball. We can't be blocked. You have to make tackles. They have won 10 state championships and it shouldn't matter on Saturday. We play to win."
Senior running back Ian Eriksen led the team against Carman Ainsworth, scoring six touchdowns. His first was less than two minutes into the game on a 6-yard touchdown. It followed the Wolves' recovery of a fumble on Carman-Ainsworth's 27-yard line.
Junior quarterback DJ Zezula kept the boys in the lead, scoring on a 1-yard run with 2:04 left in the first quarter, putting the score 15-6.
Clarkston defense stopped the Cavaliers on their fourth down on the Wolves' 5-yard line. They went on a 96-yard touchdown run with Eriksen finishing it on a 8-yard touchdown run, 23-6.
By the time the first half finished Eriksen had scored four touchdowns and on four 2-point conversions.
"Ian had an unbelievable day," Richardson said, adding the entire offensive line had a great day and did a great job. "They did a tremendous job. All of those kids – Griffin Barta, a kid who never gets a lot of credit, Lance Linton, they both did a good job. Chris Trimmer, who stepped in and Adam Matich, Nick Matich and Cole Chewins, blocking."
Senior runningback Jason McCowan finished the game with the final touchdown for the Wolves with a 5-yard run in the fourth quarter.
"We played exceptionally well," Richardson added. "For as cold as it was they played pretty darn good football."
Eriksen rushed the ball for 368 yards on 49 carries, including five 2-point conversion. Senior wide receiver Caine Watlington rushed the ball six times for 35 yards. Senior kicker Shane Hynes was 3-for-3 on PATs.
Senior linebacker Quinn Montgomery led defense with six tackles while senior defensive tackle Taylor Winiger and senior defensive back Jacob Armstrong had four tackles each. Senior defensive back Reid Kaminski had three tackles and one interception, his fourth during the playoff run.
"Reid had another great game," Richardson added. "He had an interception and some key tackles."
The Wolves play at 1 p.m. at Ford Field in Detroit. Tickets are $10, covering four games on a single admission.
Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.