Article courtesy of C&G Sports
ROCHESTER HILLS — The reign of Rochester Adams football over Rochester High continued Aug. 24 behind a dominating performance.
The Highlanders earned a 38-6 decision over the Falcons with a strong ground game and timely takeaways. The win marked 20 straight victories for Adams in the series.
“At the end of the day, you have to be happy with a game like this,” Adams coach Tony Patritto said. “The season is so short, so when you win a game you better celebrate. This was a good all-around night for us.”
After taking the opening kickoff, Adams put together a drive that ate up over six minutes of regulation. The victor used 12 plays to span 69 yards, opting to only utilize running plays. Senior tailback Chase Kareta capped the possession with a 5-yard score.
“We wanted to come out and establish a balance with both run and pass, but they were stacking the box a little bit with eight guys,” Patritto said. “So we spread it out a little bit and took what they gave us. Chase Kareta is really underrated, one of the best running backs in the county. I haven’t really seen his name anywhere, but he’s a really good kid.”
Rochester’s opening drive lasted two plays as senior linebacker Stephen Roncelli recorded a strip-sack with senior defensive end Cole Mitchell picking up the fumble at the 5-yard line. Three plays later Kareta scored again, a mere 78 seconds after his first touchdown.
“This is a great rivalry, props to Rochester, they came out and played a great game,” Roncelli said. “But I trust the guys beside me and the coaches to make the right calls. I love the community, this is a great win for us.”
Midway through the first quarter, senior running back Cole Patritto rattled off a 36-yard run to put the Highlanders in the red zone. Four players later, Patritto posted an 8-yard touchdown scamper.
Patritto cited his son Cole, Roncelli, Kareta and senior Vincent Gray as the players that helped key the victory. All two-way starters, the coach believes their notoriety is underwhelming aside from Gray, who recently committed to the University of Missouri as a defensive back.
“Vincent, Cole, Chase, and Steven are probably two of the best two-way players in the county,” Patritto said. “Obviously Gray has gotten due recognition, but the other guys don’t get all the love. When you have balance like that, teams look at you and ask what can they take away. We have four guys that can hurt you.”
Less than two minutes after the score, Patritto recorded an acrobatic interception. Five plays later, Roncelli crossed the goal line after a 35-yard sprint to put Adams up 28-0.
“I have to thank the guys up front, they don’t get a lot of credit,” Roncelli said. “They opened things up for all of us to run through.”
Rochester answered with its first and only points of the contest as senior wide receiver David Karwaski hauled in a 39-yard pass from fellow senior Brent Burtraw. Karwaski earned All-OAA honors last year as a wideout with Berkely High before transferring. He led the Falcons with five catches and 104 yards for the night.
Junior defensive back Nico Jackson notched another Adams interception with under a minute remaining in the first half, returning the pick to the 20-yard line. That led to a field goal to put the Highlanders up 31-6 heading into the midway break.
The Falcons showed signs of life to open the second half, marching into the red zone. Rochester recorded four first downs to do so — matching their entire total from the first half. However, a turnover on downs thwarted the scoring chance. The next Rochester drive also reached the red zone, but another failed conversion on fourth down stopped the possession.
“They’re way too good a team to turn the ball over like we did,” Falcons coach Erik Vernon. “I thought we did some great things on our end, but we just had way too many mistakes. It’s Week 1 so you’re going to make some, but we made way too many, and they were able to capitalize on them. That was the story of the game.”
Rochester will have to wait until next season for another chance at a victory in the annual rivalry. The Falcons have not earned a win over Adams since 1996. The two did not meet in 2011.
The third quarter featured a complete lack of scoring. On the third play of the fourth quarter, Kareta scored on a 2-yard plunge. That set the margin at 38-6, the game’s final score.
Adams totaled 376 yards on the ground. Patritto led the way with 134 yards and a score on nine rushes. Roncelli recorded 86 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries and Kareta had 55 yards and three scores on 11 runs. Adams only recorded two completions through the air, earning 17 yards.
“Thats what they do, they run that veer,” Vernon said. “You practice against it all summer, and it usually takes a few plays to get used to the actual speed of it, but it took us a little longer to do so. They have playmakers and their coaches do a great job of setting them up. When you play Adams you have to stop the run, and we didn’t do it.”
The Falcons look to rebound against Oak Park High at 7 p.m. Aug. 31, hosting the contest in their new stadium.
“Oak Park is tough, but we just have to concentrate on getting better on our end,” Vernon said. “We’ll watch film and move on. We need to get to the point where it doesn’t matter who we play. We know what we need to do and how to get better, we just need to take care of the football and we’ll be fine.”
Adams will head on the road, taking on Lake Orion High at 7 p.m. Aug. 31.