- Jim Townsend
Shamrock State Finals Preview
As the St. Patrick School Shamrocks prepare to make the 401-mile trek to the Superior Dome in Marquette, we wanted to take a closer look at this 2017 MHSAA 8-Player Division 2 Championship match-up.
The Shamrocks won their semi-final game against Kinde-North Huron 33-14, and have an 11-1 overall record on the season.
They will face the Trojans of Crystal Falls Forest Park at 2:00 this Saturday, at the “Yooper” Dome. The Trojans came away with a narrow win in their semi-final game with Pickford, 36-34.
The Trojans are nine and two overall on the year. Their only losses were to Rapid River in week one (38-36 loss) and Stephenson in week three (42-16 loss). They have outscored their opponents 516-308 on the year.
Trojan sophomore quarterback Tommy Peltoma has thrown for 666 yards and 10 touchdowns on the season. The Forest Park ground game features two dominant senior rushers. Connor Bortolini has carried the ball 241 times for 1,749 yards and 20 touchdowns, while Peter Ropiak has 112 carries for 863 yards and 12 touchdowns.
On the defensive side, the Trojans are led by sophomore middle linebacker Noah Gilner, who leads the team with 97 tackles and six sacks.
Before coming to 8-Player, the Trojans made to the 11-Player Division 8 Championship Game seven times in recent years. They won the championship in 2007, and were the runner-up in 2000, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009.
For the Shamrocks, junior quarterback Tanner Lawson has thrown 137 times for 1,292 yards and 23 touchdowns. Sophomore Ned Smith leads the rushing category with 1,114 yards on 122 carries and 13 touchdowns. Senior Will Simon leads the receiving category with 19 receptions, 480 yards and nine touchdowns
On the defensive side, the Shamrocks are led by junior Paul Cook with 127 tackles, one sack and one interception, followed by sophomore Alex Kissane with 105 tackles.
For any Shamrock fans not making the trek, you can watch the game on the via Facebook Live through Fox Sports Detroit. A recorded version will air on Fox Sports Detroit on Tuesday according to their website.
UPDATE 11/16/17 8:45 PM
“ESPN 96.1’s Game of the Week” Buck Geno's comments were not received in time to be included in this original posting, but here they are. Geno said, "The Shamrocks were victorious last weekend with a strong effort over Kinde-North Huron. The Warriors held St. Pat's to their lowest offensive output a month's worth of games, but the Shamrock defense was able to clamp down on the potent Warrior attack. Portland St. Patrick's will now make the trip up to Marquette to take on perennial small-school power Crystal Falls Forest Park. The Trojans won 3 11-man championships in their history before switching over to 8-man beginning in 2016. They lost in the playoffs last season to eventual champions Powers North Central and are looking for their first state title since 2007. CFFP lost 2 of their first three games before ripping off their current streak of 9 wins. This should be a battle of two teams who are riding high into the last game of the season. Playing in the comfort of the Superior Dome should afford the best possible stage for these two teams. This will be the Shamrocks' toughest game to date - but I think they're ready for a title... the first one since 1992. St. Patrick's 32, Crystal Falls Forest Park 28."
This week’s coverage of the Shamrock’s state finals game is sponsored by Marc Nichols Insurance Agency.