Adams’ Defense Forms Blockade in Win Walled Lake Western

Since taking over the football program at Rochester Adams in 2003, Tony Patritto has guided the Highlanders to a 16-5 postseason record.  “Is that all?” joked Patritto. “I thought it would be more.” It is no joking matter that the Highlanders are still alive in the Division 2 postseason. Adams put together another sterling defensive effort in turning back visiting Walled Lake Western 24-6 Friday in a pre-district contest.

Three weeks ago, Rochester Adams felt the effects of a 54-21 loss to Farmington Harrison, the top-ranked team in Division 2. That is now in the past.

Adams advanced to the district finals for the sixth time in eight years, allowing its eight opponent in 10 weeks to score less than 20 points. Western was also Adams’ fourth victim to score single digits on the Highlanders’ stingy defense.

“I thought we played well, both offensively and defensively,” said Adams coach Tony Patritto. “We allowed them something like 20 yards rushing in the second half. Their best running back only had roughly 80 yards of rushing. We really shut down the run, which we knew would be the key.”

Rylan Probst, Western’s potential all-state running back, was held to only 82 yards rushing. The Highlanders’ linebackers unit, led by Alec Trumble and Mike Fisher, swarmed the Warriors all night and limited them to less than 200 yards of total offense.

“I thought defensively we didn’t let them do what they wanted to do, which is run the football,” said Patritto. “The way our linebackers play, they were able to come up big. We got to (Probst) pretty quick.”

Adams has allowed just a combined 23 points the past three games, which included a 31-14 victory over Rochester and a 21-3 triumph over Rochester Stoney Creek. The Highlanders are now 7-1 in their last eight games, minus the loss to Harrison, the top

Tony Annese had 22 carries for 107 yards and also finished 11-for-19 passing for 228 yards to lead the Highlanders’ offensive attack. Phil Annese had six catches for 131 yards and Edward Williams added three catches for 79 yards, as Adams mixed up the passing and running game to keep Western off balance.

“Offensively, Tony Annese had a really good game. He passed for 200 yards and rushed for more than 100,” continued Patritto. “We were able to move the football.”

Annese’s fade pass to Williams from 20 yards out gave Adams (8-3) the lead for good in the second quarter. Tony Annese tacked on another touchdown with three minutes left in the first half on a 14-yard run.

Cam Casey added an 18-yard field goal and three extra points, while Trumble also blocked a pair of punts, the second he returned for a 25-yard touchdown.

Western (7-3) broke the shutout when Brent Zdebski picked up a fumble and returned it 60 yards for the score. The damage had already been done.

“They did not score an offensive touchdown on our defense,” said Patritto. “That’s two straight weeks we have not given up an offensive touchdown.”

Adams will visit Walled Lake Central (9-1) next Friday for the district championship.

“They’re big,” admitted Patritto of Walled Lake Central. “It’s going to be a tough task to go down there and beat them. We have our work cut out for us. They’re only loss is to a very good (Plymouth) Canton team (ranked No. 1 in Division 1).”