Article and photos courtesy of MIPrepzone
By Jeff Dullack
ROCHESTER HILLS — After a loss to West Bloomfield back in Week 6 of the season, Rochester Adams found itself sitting at 3-3, needing to close out the season with three straight wins in order to secure a spot in the MHSAA playoffs.
In the next two weeks, Adams would earn key wins over Farmington Hills Harrison on the road and Southfield A&T at home, setting up for a win-and-you’re-in situation on Friday night when the Highlanders played host to cross-town rival Stoney Creek.
Adams would overcome a bit of a slow start offensively to jump out to a 10-0 halftime lead and would go on for a 17-3 win behind a strong defensive effort to secure a playoff berth for a third consecutive season.
“Listen, with our schedule to get in the playoffs is an accomplishment, I’m very proud of them,” Adams head coach Tony Patritto said. “We did not play well tonight, but at the end of the day, it’s about getting six wins and living to fight another day. I’m proud of them.”
Both offenses would struggle to get things going in the first quarter, but Adams (6-3 overall; 3-3 OAA Red) would finally gain some traction midway through the second quarter with the help of some good field position.
Taking over at the Stoney Creek 31-yard line, Adams needed just six plays to find the end zone as a 3-yard run from senior Reece Collins gave the Highlanders a 7-0 lead with 5:03 left before halftime.
Adams would then add to its lead a couple of minutes later on a Ben Patton field goal just before halftime, extending the Highlanders’ lead to 10-0.
“It’s a great feeling, it means a lot to all of us,” Anthony Patritto said of qualifying for the playoffs. “We all want to be out here and just play one more week with our family.”
Patritto, the son of Tony Patritto, would again find the end zone early in the third quarter to again widen the Adams lead as he took a hand off on an end-around and out ran the Stoney Creek defense for a 38-yard score, giving the Highlanders a 17-0 lead less than two minutes into the second half
“My pulling guard said to cut this one up early and I did,” Patritto said of his second touchdown run of the day. “There was just a hole with nobody there so I took advantage of it.”
Tony Patritto said that it was key for his team to get its offense going before halftime and added that the touchdown to open up the second half gave the Highlanders some much needed breathing room for the rest of the second half.
“That was big and Ben Patton has been big for us all year,” he said. “To get that last touchdown to make it a three score game was huge. We just have to work on some things going into next week.”
Stoney Creek (3-6 overall; 2-4 OAA White) had two drives that went deep into Adams territory in the fourth quarter with one trip ending with a failed fake field goal attempt. But the Cougars would get on the board with 7:42 left to play on a 33-yard field goal off the foot of Lance Fogelberg.
With Adams headed back to the postseason for a third straight year and for the 14th time in the last 16 seasons, Tony Patritto credited the continuity of his coaching staff for his program’s success during his time with the Highlanders.
“It’s a huge group effort,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate to have the same coaches for most of this time. It’s hard to get in the playoffs and to do it 14 times in 16 years is something I’m very proud of.”
Adams will play host to Lakeland at 7pm on Friday.