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“I feel like my reads are a lot better,” said DePillo, 6-6, who also plays basketball. “I worked really hard in the off season just to get smarter with the game. I’ve got the size, I’ve got the speed, I just had to get better with the QB IQ.”
DePillo watched lots of video that concentrated on different defenses quarterbacks can face.
“Just study, watch film, do whatever it takes,” he said. “I watch any defenses, really. We go through college and pros. Any defenses just to get all of the defenses down.”
Clarkston was without standout sophomore running back Ethan Clark, who was injured in last week’s overtime victory over West Bloomfield.
Taking his place was senior Ayden Brooks, who is also a slot receiver. Against the Dragons (2-2), he gained 43 yards on seven carries and scored four touchdowns.
“He’s got crazy speed,” Spindler said. “It’s his first start at running back and he really holds in there with the O-line and he found them and got them.”
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Brooks entered with one carry over the first three games and had no idea what to expect against unbeaten Lake Orion.
“I surprised myself a little bit,” he said. “I have confidence in myself, but it was a little surprising to get four touchdowns.”
DePillo was also surprised when he handed the ball to Brooks and he kept finding a path to the end zone.
“He hasn’t played running back for two years,” DePillo said. “He came in tonight and got the job done and that’s what we needed most. He stepped right in; he was ready to go. He was breaking tackles.”
Brooks said a lot of credit goes to the offensive line, which also includes LSU-bound Garrett Dellinger. DePillo said those linemen made his job easier.
“I could have ordered two pizzas,” he said. “Our O-line is so great. They give me all the time in the world just to get back there and make a throw. They blitzed five or six on almost every passing down and we were still able to get throws off.”
Last season ended a streak of 16 consecutive playoff appearance, but coach Kurt Richardson never blamed DePillo for the losing season. A year ago, he showed flashes of brilliance that make his success this season understandable.
“He’s getting there,” Richardson said. “He’s such a good athlete. Last year we had lost our receivers so he was trying to put the ball in there perfect for them. This winter he had a great winter and a good spring and he matures, he’s so much stronger now. He’s come a long way.”
The last time Dearborn Fordson began the season 0-2 was 1964 … until this season.
In Week 3, the Tractors defeated Westland Glenn, 43-7, and it looked like they had found their footing when they led Division 2 No. 2 Livonia Churchill, 21-15 with 2:20 left.
That was before Churchill put together a late scoring drive and added a two-point conversion for a 22-21 lead with 35 seconds remaining.
But on first down after the kickoff, Alex Osman lofted a perfect deep pass down the sideline to Antonio Gates Jr., who caught the ball in stride, broke a tackle inside the 30 and completed the 68-yard touchdown for a 27-22 win.
[ An All-Pro dad and a superstar son: Inside the life of Antonio Gates Jr. ]
Not only did Osman get the ball to Gates, he did a superb job setting up the long pass and making sure Gates was open.
Fordson up 21-14.
Churchhill scores with 1 min left and goes for 2. Flee flicker they get it.
Churchill 22 fordson 21
28 seconds left fordson 68 yard td pass ANTONIO GATES JR ( @AntoniogatesJr1 ) to the house.
“He did a really good job stepping in the pocket, looking the safety off,” said Fordson coach Walker Zaban. “That was huge because it kind of held the safety. Antonio got by the corner and then made a huge play to get by the safety, breaking a tackle to get into the end zone.”
Zaban’s goal has been finding ways to the ball to Gates, a four-star junior who has the ability to be a game changer.
“We had to get it to him one way another,” Walker said. “We finally were able to do it and obviously he made some big plays for us. He had seven catches and they were really big catches — chain movers.”
Zaban hopes this victory can move the Tractors in the right direction. Not having much of an off-season program because of the pandemic took an early toll on the team.
“We’re young and have a lot of inexperience out there, especially on the defensive end,” he said. “It has been crucial to get these weeks of practice to jell and hopefully this gives us the confidence that they can play and when things go bad not to worry about it.”
DeWitt has been ranked No. 2 in Division 3 and showed why Saturday when it trounced Warren De La Salle, 43-3, the worst lost in 52 years for the Pilots.
Junior quarterback Tyler Holtz completed 13 of 18 passes for 310 yards and four touchdowns. On the season, Holtz is 51 of 81 for 1,152 yards with 18 touchdowns and no interceptions.
With Muskegon, Detroit King and River Rouge, Division 3 is absolutely loaded, but don’t forget about DeWitt (4-0), which has outscored its opponents 200-44 so far.
The Detroit Public School League will have a pair of championship games this weekend. In the first game, Southeastern will play Central on Friday at 5 p.m. at Northwestern.
Saturday’s championship game will be a rematch between Cass Tech and King at noon at Northwestern. Cass Tech beat King, 34-26, in the opening game this season.
Mick McCabe is a former longtime columnist for the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1. Save $10 on his new book, “Mick McCabe’s Golden Yearbook: 50 Great Years of Michigan’s Best High School Players, Teams & Memories,” by ordering right now at McCabe.PictorialBook.com.
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: How Clarkston football morphed into a 2020 juggernaut in Michigan high school football