August 22, 2012 - The bleachers are empty now as the gridiron heroes prepare for this Friday's home opener against Rochester Adams when it will be packed with blue and gold.
Senior Alex Dicea, whose helmet includes extra padding, makes his play during the Wolves' scrimmage last Thursday. Photo by Wendi Reardon (click for larger version)
"It is always a tough opener," said Kurt Richardson, beginning his 26th season as head coach for the Clarkston Boys Varsity Football team. "Adams is always well coached. They have great athletes. It's a good opener."
"We know we have to be at our best to be competitive with them," said Adams head coach Tony Patritto. "As always Clarkston is a great team. They are always good, competitive and well-coached."
The Wolves played two scrimmages as they prepared for the season and Richardson thought they went well.
"They weren't sloppy," he added. "We weren't jumping around. They handled the ball well. Those were my concerns."
From the scrimmage, he pointed out junior running back Ian Eriksen was doing outstanding on the offensive line. Junior defensive back Caine Watlington was also doing outstanding on defense.
"I think our running game should be really strong," he added.
Adams saw the scrimmage and Patritto said they noticed the Wolves' running game was something they were preparing for this week.
"It's no secret they are going to be good in all phases," added Patritto. "They have D.J. Zezula, a talented sophomore quarterback, who can really throw it. They are always really effective on special teams and on offense and defense. For us we have to take advantage of any mistakes they make. "
Since 2007, Clarkston and Adams have flip flopped who has won. Clarkston won in 2007 and Adams won the next year when the 2008 season opened.
Both teams are looking to breaking the tradition as both go for the win.
"The tradition of both teams is making the game great," said Patritto. "But ultimately what happened last year has no impact on the game this year. They know last year Clarkston took it to us pretty good. But for us it is one more thing to add on and try to get back at a little bit."
Richardson added it was good for the Wolves to make sure the flip flopping doesn't continue.
The offensive line starting lineup is Nick Azzopardi, center; Eric Eberle and Nick Matich, guards; Jesse Chadwell and Craig Columbo, tackles; Nathan Yeloushan, tight end; Jared Yaroch, wide receiver; Zezula, quarterback; and Eriksen, running back.
The defensive line is Watlington, Reid Kaminski, Alex Dicea and Tim Cason as defensive backs; Yeloushan, Chris Calvano and Dylan Hancook, linebackers; and Adam Johns and Eriksen, outside linebackers.
"Our two down guys will be Matich and David Beedle," added Richardson.
Zezula is punting and Shane Hynes is the place kicker.
Patritto added Adams has a few returners on their offense line and six on their defense.
"We are young," he said. "It is going to be an interesting challenge. It is a good way to see how they stand up. This is a game Kurt and I chose to play. It is something we like to do. For the players it is a great challenge to get really excited for playing. I know our kids are excited about having a chance to play against Clarkston kids. I am excited."
The Wolves host Adams Friday night at Clarkston High School stadium, 6093 Flemings Lake Road.
Kickoff is at 7 p.m.
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.