North senior running back Tod Long, No. 2, waits for his blockers to pave the way for a positive run during the Norsemen's win over St. Clair. photo by Paul Kania.
October 31, 2013The script couldn't be written any better.
Long-time Grosse Pointe North football head coach Frank Sumbera sat at 199 career wins and his Norsemen needed a win against undefeated St. Clair to not only get No. 200, but make the state playoffs.
Sumbera's Norsemen went on the road and beat St. Clair 40-32. As the final seconds ticked down, the Norsemen players doused Sumbera with Gatorade and celebrated the team's automatic berth in the Division 2 state playoffs with a 6-3 overall record.
"It was very exciting and a tremendous effort by our players," Sumbera said. "It's a nice accomplishment, but it was more important to get the win and qualify for the state playoffs. It was one of our goals heading into the season and we made it."
The Norsemen were off and running in the first quarter, using short run to score a touchdown Senior Brad Centala kicked the extra point to make it 7-0.
The Saints scored, but missed the PAT, and a Centala 40-yard field goal gave the Norsemen a 10-6 lead.
The home team took a 12-10 lead and added another touchdown to increase the lead to 18-10.
Senior running back Tod Long scored on a 4-yard run and he added the two–point conversion, tying the game at 18 heading into the intermission.
St. Clair retook the lead in the third quarter, 26-18, but Long scored again, running in from 5 yards out. Junior quarterback Dan Robinson connected with senior wide receiver Sal Ciaravino for the two-point conversion, tying the game at 26.
The Saints grabbed their final lead of the game late in the third quarter, but a two-point conversion failed, making it 32-26 with one quarter left.
The Norsemen took over and dominated the line of scrimmage.
Long scored on a 5-yard run and Centala's PAT gave the Norsemen a 33-32 lead.
Another Long touchdown run, 19 yards, and another Centala PAT put the finishing touches on the 40-32 victory.
Long rushed for 164 yards on 31 carries with three touchdowns, while Robinson had 64 yards on the ground on 16 attempts.
The Norsemen controlled the line of scrimmage against a Saints team that gave up an average of only 19.5 points per game.
"We ran the ball very well and I think wore them down in the fourth quarter," Sumbera said.
By beating unbeaten St. Clair, Grosse Pointe North earned a first-round playoff game in front of its fans as it hosts Detroit East English.
"They are big and fast, so we have to keep them in front of us defensively," Sumbera said. "We will be ready to play and we need a good effort on both sides of the ball to win this game."