Falcons end Ithaca's 69-game win streak, win state title

Cameron Mellor (@CamMellor)
February 16, 2015



The Falcons of St. Mary Catholic Central High School ran their way to the Michigan Class 6 State Championship in 2014. Behind the legs of Justin Carrabino, John Lako and Mitchell Lamour, the Falcons finished the year 13-1 and defeated Ithaca, 22-12 to claim the title.


The Falcons defeat of the Yellow Jackets crowned SMCC as the top team in Michigan’s Class 6 and earned the school its second State Championship in its history. The victory over Ithaca also saw the Yellow Jackets four-year reign as Class 6 Champions ended. Ithaca had won the last four State Championship in Michigan’s Class 6.


To get to the championship, St. Mary Catholic Central seemed nearly unbeatable in the opening stages of 2014.


To kick the season off, the Falcons dismantled Tecumseh, 35-13 by rushing for 438 yards and three rushing scores. Quarterback Bryce Windham threw for two touchdowns on just three completions in the game, setting the tone early as SMCC jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead before cruising to the victory.

St. Mary Catholic Central hosted two more games to start the season, blowing out Flat Rock, 42-0 before defeating Huron, 40-7. The Falcons ran for a combined 567 yards in those two victories as Lako, Lamour and Carrabino ran for a combined nine touchdowns in the two games.


Hitting the road for the first time, SMCC scored a touchdown in each quarter against Grosse Ile, defeating Red Devils, 28-0. The Falcons then traveled to take on Airport, defeating the Jets, 28-7 behind 348 rushing yards.


Their defense would shut out their next two opponents, a 43-0 defeat of Milan, followed by a 33-0 victory over Riverview Community. Continuing the impressive start to the season, the Falcons easily improved their record to 8-0 with a 47-7 undoing of Jefferson in which Lako ran for 127 yards and three touchdowns. Windham also completed 3-of-3 pass attempts for 114 yards and three touchdowns.


However, all momentum was stopped the next week as SMCC traveled to Lansing to take on Lansing Catholic. Despite taking an 8-7 lead into the second quarter, Lansing scored on the first play from scrimmage in the 2nd before scoring again before halftime to push their lead to 21-8 at the break.


On the last play of the third quarter, St. Mary Catholic Central’s Windham would hit David Howey for 46 yards and a touchdown to cut the lead to 21-15.


The Cougars conversely took the ensuing kickoff back for a touchdown to swing momentum back in their favor. They would hold on to defeat the Falcons, 27-22 to knock SMCC from the ranks of the unbeaten heading in to the playoffs.


The loss to Lansing Catholic spelled doom for Grass Lake, who happened to be St. Mary Catholic Central’s opening round opponent.


The Falcons torched the Warriors for 42 points in the first quarter alone before ultimately defeating Grass Lake, 62-8. SMCC forced three turnovers and gained 351 total yards to Grass Lake’s 95.


In the second round, the Falcons took care of business against Clinton, knocking off the Redskins, 50-15. Carrabino and Lamour each ran for over 100 yards and three touchdowns to spark the route.


In the regional final against Lumen Christi, the Falcons would ultimately advance after a failed extra point attempt by Titans kicker Will Davis. In a back and forth affair, SMCC and Lumen Christi alternated scores, almost identically. After the Falcons scored in the first and missed their point after, the Titans answered with a touchdown of their own, only to have their extra point blocked.


They would alternate similar scores through the first three quarters as they headed in to the final quarter, tied at 20. The Titans’ Hunter Page would run in his fourth touchdown of the game in the early stages of the fourth quarter to give Lumen Christi a 26-20 lead after Davis’ PAT was no good.


The Falcons would calmly drive down the field and answer with a touchdown themselves. On this score, the game-deciding extra point kick was punched through the uprights by Phillip Lehmann to give SMCC a 27-26 victory. The Titans would turn the ball over on their two ensuing possessions as the final interception would end the game for Lumen Christi.


Following their close victory against the Titans, St. Mary Catholic Central would then take on North Pointe Christian. The Mustangs would be no match in the state semifinals for the Falcons as SMCC scored a touchdown in each quarter again, defeating NPC, 28-0 to advance to the state championship.


The Falcons advanced to the school’s ninth ever appearance in the state title. Ithaca would await SMCC as the Yellow Jackets were four-time defending Class 6 State Champions. Ithaca were winners of 69 consecutive games dating back to September 27, 2010.  


All of that aside, the Falcons, much like all season, calmly headed in to Ford Field on November 28 with level heads and a mission to complete.


Looking much like a team destined to overthrow the long-tenured champs, the Falcons took the opening possession of the game 17-play drive that spanned 8:15 minutes. Lako capped the impressive drive with a touchdown rush from two yards out and an early 8-0 lead after a successful two-point conversion.


The teams would then sputter offensively as Ithaca was forced to punt and the Falcons would squander away possession on a Lako fumble.


The Yellow Jackets would score early in the second quarter but unsuccessfully attempt a two-point conversion, pushing the score to 8-6 early in the second.


After their ensuing drive stalled, the Falcons were forced to punt. Jake Smith received the punt for Ithaca, but would fumble during his return. That fumble was picked up by SMCC’s Travis Vuich and returned for a touchdown and a momentum-shifting 15-6 lead.


However, Ithaca would answer as Smith atoned for his earlier turnover, rushing the ball in from two yards out. A missed extra point gave the Falcons a 15-12 lead at halftime.


The third quarter would pass by scoreless and the final quarter of Class 6 football would decide the championship. After a 14-play drive ended with a sack and a punt for the Falcons, Ithaca took over possession from their own 20 and 2:46 left on the clock, down 15-12.


After being sacked on second down and tossing an incompletion on third, Smith’s 4th and 22 pass was intercepted by Darius Marks and returned to the Yellow Jackets five yard line.


Lako would put the game-sealing score on the board for the Falcons just one play later, punching the ball in from the three-yard line. After forcing a turnover on downs on the Yellow Jackets next possession, the final score of 22-12 would be enough to dethrone Ithaca and give the Falcons their first State Championship since 1991.


Lako finished with two scores on the ground while also leading the team with his 5.5 tackles and one sack.


The Falcons finished the season on the highest of notes, and became the first team to defeat the Yellow Jackets in over four years. 



Head Coach Jack Giarmo announced after the season that he would not be returning to SMCC in 2015 as head coach, as he would retire from coaching as a champion. He retires with a 145-54 all-time record as coach of the Falcons. Giarmo had served as head coach since 1998. 


Of the backfield trio, only Carrabino will return in 2015 for the Falcons as St. Mary Catholic Central will also lose Windham to graduation. For now however, SMCC can relish in the fact that they were the team that toppled Ithaca for the first time since 2010.


That’s something to be proud of.


Oh, and that State Championship that comes with that.


Offensive stat leaders

Rushing: Justin Carrabino (1404 yards)

Passing: Bryce Windham (936 yards)

Receiving: Travis Vuich (543 yards)

All-Purpose: Justin Carrabino (1964 yards)

Touchdowns: Justin Carrabino (21)

Rush attempts: Justin Carrabino (210 carries)

Receptions: Travis Vuich (28 catches)


Defensive stat leaders

Total tackles: Troy Hilkens (56)

Sacks: John Lako (5.5)

Tackles for loss: John Lako (11)

Pass break ups: Bryce Windham (16)

Interceptions: Bryce Windham (8)


Team statistics

Total scoring: 507 points

Opponent scoring: 122

Total offense: 4838 yards

Total rushing yards: 3902 yards

Total passing yards: 936 yards

Opponent offense: 2657 yards

Opponent rushing yards: 1684 yards

Opponent passing yards: 973 yards

Third down conversions: 52.8% (75/142)

Opponent third down conversions: 27.0% (41/152)

Turnover differential: +14 (18 interceptions, 9 fumbles)

California's Long Beach Poly star safety still undecided


By: Cameron Mellor
February 2, 2014


It's not uncommon for players to wait until the final day to make their final choice on where they will attend college. It is indeed a big decision and one to be taken into careful consideration. 


Some decisions are bigger than others, not only for the players, but also for the universities they are committing to. That can definitely be said about our feature player in our first ever National Signing Day Report - John 'Juju' Smith - from Long Beach Polytechnic School in California.



Smith will decide his future school and team on National Signing Day, Wednesday, February 5. Smith will be deciding between Alabama, Michigan, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, UCLA or USC. Take a look back at Smith's 2013 season that led him to be one of the nation's most highly sought after recruits for the 2014 class.

Congratulations to HSGC users across the state of Michigan


By: Cameron Mellor
January 28, 2014


As National Signing Day nears, signifying the culmination of a number of high school careers, we see no better time than the present to reflect on a terrific football season and continue to unveil the first-annual, All-HSGC Award Lists for the 2013 football season.


Working now on a state-by-state basis, the same extensive parameters and essential criteria were considered for the coveted list. The All-HSGC Awards signify excellence on the field of key offensive positions and defensive players as a whole.


The quintessential component of the list was basic and to-the-point – your team must utilize the HSGameCenter program being delivered by Digital Scout. From there, the grading criterion included, but was not limited to, yards and touchdowns, team winning percentage, percentage of team total offense and much more.


After careful deliberation and hours of scouring over statistics from programs across Michigan, the list of the first ever All-Michigan HSGC Awards are here.


All-Michigan Player of the Year:

Jon Wassink, South Christian High School (12-2)

Quarterback No. 12

4002 total yards, 47 total touchdowns


All-Michigan First Team


Brennan Miller, H H Dow High School (8-3), No. 2

3141 total yards, 32 total touchdowns


Jondell Jones, Bangor High School (4-5), No. 7

2119 total yards, 31 total touchdowns


Running Back:

Tyler LaJoie, Negaunee High School (10-2), No. 20

2143 total yards, 28 total touchdowns


Josh Czarniowski, St. Mary Catholic Central High School (10-2), No. 5

1848 total yards, 27 total touchdowns


Wide Receiver:

Eric VanVoorst, South Christian, No. 6

1168 total yards, 11 total touchdowns


Tyler Graham, Bangor, No. 81

883 total yards, 10 total touchdowns


All-Michigan Second Team


Austin Heeres, Calvin Christian High School (7-4), No. 10

1901 total yards, 24 total touchdowns


Tyler Bellis, Lee M Thurston High School (6-4), No. 12

1506 total yards, 18 total touchdowns


Running Back:

Amari Coleman, New Lothrop High School (12-1), No. 7

1848 total yards, 27 total touchdowns


Brad Harrah, Lenawee Christian High School (8-2), No. 28

1984 total yards, 23 total touchdowns


Wide Receiver:

Travis McNally, H H Dow, No. 3

1036 total yards, 11 total touchdowns


Curtis Cobbs, Lee M Thurston, No. 5

629 total yards, 10 total touchdowns


All-Michigan Third Team


Richie Kish, Grosse Pointe South High School (6-4), No. 10

1274 total yards, 17 total touchdowns


Grant Hohlbein, Lenawee Christian, No. 10

2512 total yards, 24 total touchdowns


Running Back:

Mike Miklusicak, Wayland High School (6-6), No. 24

1880 total yards, 15 total touchdowns


Geff Plasman, South Christian, No. 3

1577 total yards, 15 total touchdowns


Wide Receiver:

Wyatt Munson, Millington High School (9-2), No. 8

528 total yards, 11 total touchdowns


Cole Franks, Laingsburg High School (4-5), No. 20

820 total yards, 7 total touchdowns


All-Michigan Honorable Mention


Ryan Watters, Williamston High School (5-4), No. 2

1660 total yards, 22 total touchdowns


Dylan Moffitt, Bath High School (7-4), No. 4

1457 total yards, 22 total touchdowns


Running Back:

Charles Turfe, Canton High School (8-2), No. 28

1344 total yards, 18 total touchdowns


Devon Kelley, Ovid-Elsie High School (7-3), No. 21

1472 total yards, 15 total touchdowns


James Kurasz, Manchester High School (7-3), No. 5

1337 total yards, 15 total touchdowns


Wide Receiver:

Sam Heyboer, South Christian, No. 2

727 total yards, 8 total touchdowns


Jordan Spratt, Grosse Pointe South, No. 81

589 total yards, 8 total touchdowns


Mike Robb, H H Dow, No. 85

645 total yards, 6 total touchdowns



All-Michigan Defensive Player of the Year

David Bayerl, Stephenson High School (4-5), No. No. 59

53 total tackle, 33 solo, 20 tackle for loss, 7 sack


All-Michigan Defensive Honorable Mention

Jacob Hager, Millington, No. 5

72.5 total tackle, 54 solo, 19.5 tackle for loss, 4.5 sack, 1 interception


Drew Zwiers, Calvin Christian, No. 82

75.5 total tackle, 42 solo, 18.5 tackle for loss, 4.5 sack, 2 interception


Damon Fuller, Lee M Thurston, No. 11

59.5 total tackle, 30 solo, 23 tackle for loss, 1 sack


Sawyer Smith, Spring Lake High School (8-2), No. 73

39 total tackle, 24 solo, 17.5 tackle for loss, 6.5 sack


Eric VanVoorst, South Christian, No. 6

35 total tackle, 29 solo, 10 interception

By Francis Doyle
October 15, 2013
It’s football season in Columbus, Ohio, so when most people mention “The Game” at this time of year, they are often referring to the annual fall football match-up between The Ohio State University Buckeyes and the University of Michigan Wolverines. However, in the realm of high school football, “The Game” stands for the rivalry that has developed over the years between the Bishop Watterson Eagles and the Stallions of St. Francis DeSales. This annual meeting is an intense high school football contest between two of Columbus’s parochial powerhouses where these neighborhood schools, located a mere 2.8 miles apart, battle it out each year on the gridiron.  
(Follow the live play-play of "The Game" here: http://www.hsgamecenter.com/football/male/game/1499164)
 2013 DeSales Stallions               
It wasn’t always the rivalry that it is today, though. As everyone knows, to have a rivalry both teams have to win, the games have to be intense, and there has to be a lot of emotion and passion behind both teams. For the first 15 years -- from 1963 through 1977 -- Watterson won 13 games while only losing 1 – one game ended in a tie; conversely, from 1978 through 2012 the Eagles and Stallions have played 42 times with Watterson winning 22 times and DeSales 20 times. So, I guess you could say the rivalry really had its inception in 1978 and 1979 when DeSales won back to back games and brought not only the intensity, but also the emotion and passion to ignite the rivalry.
   2013 Watterson Eagles                 
The teams have played a total of 57 games from 1963 through 2012 with Watterson holding a 14 game advantage – 35 wins versus 21 losses and 1 tie – the majority of the 14 game lead is the result of those early games played during the first 15 years. The schools have met twice in the same season seven times as qualifiers for the state playoffs with Watterson winning five of those contests.
Watterson has had two 9 game winning streaks during this 57 year span while the most consecutive wins that DeSales has been able to put together is 5.
Watterson has scored 1,031 points [a 18.1 point per game average] while DeSales has scored 682 points [a 12.0 point per game average]. Watterson’s biggest margin of victory was in 1966, a 52 to 0 blowout while, in 1994, DeSales crushed the Eagles 41 to 6. That 35 point margin of victory for the Stallions being the only regular season loss for Watterson that year – the Eagles had a total of 83 points scored on them in 1994 with the 41 points that DeSales scored accounting for almost half of them.
DeSales has posted 3 shutouts over the years [1982, 1990 & 1995] while Watterson has shut out the Stallions 9 times [1966, 1970, 1972, 1976, 1977, 1981, 1984, 1989 & 2004] – 27 games have been decided by 7 points or less.
Both schools are rich in tradition and the respect that each team has for the other is evident in the way the games are played – hard hitting but clean. Here’s to another intense and passionate game for the Eagles and the Stallions!