Royal Oak Tribune
Blake Marrogy-led Brother Rice tops Walled Lake Western
Warriors claim D3 district championship
WALLED LAKE >> Blake Marrogy made plays with his feet, all night. He made plays with his arm.
And, when Birmingham Brother Rice needed it the most, he made a play with his hands, too.
With his defense working hard to keep an explosive Walled Lake Western offense in check, and Rice clinging to a one-score lead in the fourth quarter, the junior quarterback made the biggest play of Friday’s Division 3 district championship game.
He reached back over a Western defender to make a huge grab on a reverse throw-back pass, eventually rumbling 61 yards to set up another Rice touchdown, re-establishing a two-score advantage.
Then, after Western cut it to one score again, Marrogy ran the ball six times on a clockchewing drive, as Rice ran the final 4:24 off to close out a 3022 win.
“These are moments that you gotta enjoy, because some people don’t have the opportunity and abilities to play this (game). So you know, having these moments, you know, you just gotta cherish them and thank God each and every day for every every day that you’re out on the field with your brothers,” said Marrogy, who ran for 207 yards and two scores, and threw for another.
“It means a lot. You know, it gives us more confidence to go into the next week. And you know, we just got to keep keep staying together as a team and keep playing for each other, and the people who wore Brother Rice across their chest before us. Just go as far as we could and stay together as one.”
The win advances Rice (5-5) to next week’s regional, where the Warriors will face defending D3 champion Detroit King (7-3). It also leaves Rice a 4-0 against Western all-time, and 3-0 in playoff meetings.
After an early 3-0 lead on a 20-yard Owen Pardi field goal, Marrogy had scoring runs of 39 and 55 yards — one in each half — sandwiched around a 31-yard scoring pass to Sam Klein, as Rice built a 23-7 lead with 4:31 left in the third.
Until that point, the only big burst for Western had been a 21-yard touchdown run by Darius Taylor a little over two minutes before halftime. The Minnesota-bound running back had 122 yards on 21 carries for Western, but could never really make
a game-breaking play.
“We got to that point, because did do a good job on a really good running back — I don’t know what his longest run was, but I just know he didn’t really rip off that that drive-changer and anytime you do that you give yourselves a chance on D,” Rice coach Adam Korzeniewski said. “But man our kids — I gotta give our kids credit, too. I mean they came, they brought it and they did not shy away from the contact and I’m really proud of them.”
A double pass from Gavin Noonan to Darrell Jones Jr. set up a Western score just three plays into the fourth, as Drew Viotto hit Michael Bailey with a 6-yard scoring pass to cut Western’s deficit to 23-15.
On the first play of the ensuing drive, Marrogy’s big catch put Rice right back in the red zone to pad the lead. The quarterback handed the ball off to Cashton Papadelis, who gave it to wideout Ben Eck. The senior lofted a pass down the home sideline that Marrogy was able to wrest away from the defender, then take it all the way down to the Western 19-yard line. It’s a play Rice just installed this week.
“We were there. We had the reverse stopped. You’re covering the kid — isn’t like he ran free —and it just bobbled and erupted. I mean, that’s playoff football. Somebody makes that play and they win the game,” Western coach Kory Cioroch said. “Ball didn’t bounce our way a couple times and we made some mistakes and they’re just really good. We battled. I’m really proud of our kids.”
Marrogy’s catch set up a 2-yard scoring run by Andrew LaBarre to make it 30-15 with 8:47 to go, but Western drove 70 yards for a score to cut it back to a oneTD game again, as Viotto hit Taylor with a 12-yard scoring pass on fourth-and-11, cutting the deficit to 30-22 with 4:49 left.
Western recovered an onside kick, but after four straight incompletions, turned the ball over on downs, and Rice would never give it back, grinding the remaining four-plus minutes off the clock. Marrogy ran for two first downs on the drive, including a game-sealing 3-yard run on fourth-and-1 with 46 seconds left, sliding down inside the 3-yard line to keep the clock running.
“You know, truly, he played a very good game,” Korzeniewski said. “But Blake we get on him hard. That poor kid takes a beating from us as coaches, but man he is tough. Mentally he’s tough.”