WARREN, Mich. – Warren Woods-Tower and St. Clair Shores Lake Shore can make this a football season for the ages.
The two teams will play Saturday at Warren Woods-Tower. The winner claims the MAC Gold Division championship and gets to write another chapter in its history book.
“The overall goal is to do something that hasn’t been done in almost four decades,” Lake Shore coach Richard Popp said. “It’s pretty exciting.”
Lake Shore (6-1 overall) will play for its first league championship since 1980, when the Shorians won the Bi-County League title.
Meanwhile, Warren Woods-Tower is 7-0 for the first time since 2001. The Titans need to score 14 points this season to break the school record of 348 points set in 2013, according to the website michigan-football.com.
“The first goal as a team is to win the MAC Gold,” Warren Woods-Tower coach Al Gulick said. “So we’re focused on that this”.
A strong rushing attack has keyed the Titans’ offense, which has scored 50 or more points in five games this season.
Senior quarterback Matthew Bills and junior running back Henry Brown lead the ground game.
Bills, a three-year starter, has rushed for 1,066 yards and 17 touchdowns, and he has passed for 450 yards and six more scores.
Brown has added 1,134 rushing yards and 14 TDS.
They’re doing it thanks to an experienced offensive line: seniors Nick Clapp, Zach Burke, C.J. Schier and Nick Johnson, and junior RayShawn Merriweather.
“I have to give them credit,” Gulick said. “All of the newspaper clippings go to Matt Bills and Henry Brown, but they deserve a lot of credit.”
Gulick also praised wide receivers Chaise Mayer, Devin Jackson, De’Aries McCullough and Omari Embree for their blocking ability.
Defensively, inside linebacker Joel Radvansky paces Warren Woods-Tower with 80 tackles.
“They have experience at great spots,” Popp said.
Junior defensive end Dan Schultz has 65 tackles and a team-high five sacks. Schier, who also plays defensive end, and inside linebacker Angelo Glass each have two sacks.
“We’ve been playing really well defensively,” Gulick said. “I’ve been very pleased.”
Like Warren Woods-Tower, Lake Shore fields a high-scoring offense. The Shorians have broken the 50-point barrier twice this year, and they’re averaging 39 points per game.
Balance has made Lake Shore tough to stop.
Identical twins Christian and Mike Gaiera have put up almost identical numbers at running back, with each rushing for two touchdowns. Both also play linebacker, and both have 3.8 grade-point averages.
“They’re the heart and soul of the team, that’s for sure,” Popp said. “They’re amazing.”
Quarterback Brandon Tatters directs the offense, and his top two targets are wide receivers JaSena Green and Robert Turner-Yelder.
Senior captain Anthony Marsiglio anchors an offensive line that includes Evan Barnet, Jacob Frogge, Joe Calamia and Luke Porkoske.
“They have grown together like crazy,” Popp said.
Top players on defense for Lake Shore are cornerback Caleb Robinson, defensive end Kristian Dushaj, nose guard JaWaun Davis and inside linebacker Cole Stascuk.
“We’re worried about Lake Shore’s overall team aggressiveness,” Gulick said. “They’re just very well coached. They just keep coming at you. They don’t stop.”
That plays into Lake Shore’s motto of “relentless pursuit,” and it’s a big reason why the Shorians have won six in a row since losing season-opener to Port Huron Northern in overtime.
Popp also cites the contributions of two new assistant coaches, offensive coordinator Will Puvlowski and defensive coordinator Ray Ostrowski, in sparking the surge. Mix that with camaraderie, and Lake Shore has a winning combination.
“Every single day we just have a blast at practice,” Popp said. “This is just a great group of kids. They have had an impact on the entire building.”