Football Preview: Fighting Irish clinch playoffs; face toughest test at DC Friday

 

While the Father Gabriel Richard football team has checked one big goal off the to-do list for 2017, don’t think for one minute that the Fighting Irish are done fighting for bigger and better things this year.

“Never satisfied,” says Richard Coach Brian Lewis, in his first year running the program at Father Gabriel Richard. “We need to keep pushing. We need to focus on each opponent and prepare the right way and be ready at game time. We want to win our conference, and to reach all of our goals we have to learn how to play in these types of games.”

“These types of games” begin on Friday when Richard travels to Dearborn to take on the very good Divine Child Falcons. The Fighting Irish also are very good and will head into the Catholic League AA showdown with a perfect record to prove it.

“That was a big goal of ours,” said Lewis after the Fighting Irish’s 57-0 win over Detroit Universal Academy last weekend pushed the Irish to 6-0 overall and pushed them into the state playoffs after missing out on the postseason last year.

The win over Detroit Universal Academy (0-6) was expected.

“It was good to get all 32 players in the game and let some other kids get some playing time,” Lewis said. “It was good to capitalize on the opportunity to get our sixth win and get into the playoffs.”

Richard circles all the league games on the schedule but Divine Child might have been done with a Sharpie instead of a pen. The Falcons beat the Irish 21-10 last year on their way to the final four in the state playoffs before losing a semifinal game to Orchard Lake St. Mary’s. So the Falcons, who are strong good again this season, are certainly a good measuring stick to see how far the Fighting Irish have come this season.

DC will be Richard’s first real big test. The Fighting Irish have won all their games “comfortably” so far this season. Friday will most likely not be comfortable but like Lewis said it’s the type of game the need to play, play well and win.

“They are good; they are really good,” Lewis said of DC.

DC was 5-0 before last week’s 52-14 loss to powerhouse Warren De La Salle (5-1). It also took a 17-point comeback to beat U-D Jesuit 29-24 the week before so the Falcons haven’t exactly been flying high lately.

Divine Child is led by senior quarterback Theo Day. The Michigan State University-commit is having an impressive final season in Dearborn and can beat defenses with his arm and his legs. In the win over UD, Day had 152 yards passing and another 85 running.

“He’s a real good quarterback,” Lewis said of Day. “He throws the ball as well as anyone I’ve seen. He also can run it too. He’s fast and strong. They do a lot of good things on offense so we need to be ready to go on defense.”

Richard also will have to contend with DC running back Noah DeGuzman, Michigan-commit Aidan Hutchinson and Quinn Blair, who recently committed to play basketball at William & Mary.

“He plays tight end and is a stud on defense,” Lewis said of Hutchinson. “He’s a big-time division one player who is big, athletic and very strong. He will be a tough guy for us to block.”

While the Fighting Irish need to have the scouting reports and blueprints on the opposition, they really need to focus on themselves.

“It’s about us and what we do against them,” Lewis said. “We are going to have to run the ball well, play sound defense and not give up the big play and play team football. We need to be good in all three phases just like we try to be every week.”

The Fighting Irish have outscored their opponents 253-55 while Divine Child has outscored its opponents 175-133.

After Divine Child, the Fighting Irish finish the “regular” season with U-D Jesuit (2-4) and Burton Bendle (4-2). And then it’s on to the playoffs. That’s a given. How they stack up in the postseason will be determined how they do the rest of the way, starting on Friday.

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