DETROIT, Mich. – De La Salle Collegiate got back on track Friday night with a shutout victory over St. Thomas Aquinas of London, Ontario, at Tom Adams Field.
Flames coach Pete Legge knew it would be a tall task to defeat De La Salle, but Aquinas gave it their best shot.
"We knew we were probably outmatched," Legge said after the 64-0 loss. "Our goal is to face great teams like De La Salle and to get better from the experience. We let ourselves down a little bit with some organizational mistakes, but we'll learn from this game and move on."
On the opening drive of the game, Aquinas had the ball 33-yard line on third down when Braden Babich intercepted a pass and returned it for a touchdown. Defensive stops resulted in short fields for De La Salle. The Pilots capitalized with rushing scores from Brett Stanley and Muzzie Kahari before Ricky Pearson scored on the Pilots' second pick-six of the game from 42 yards out. La Salle led 35-0 after one-quarter of play.
Thirteen Pilots carried the ball in the game. Gino Pelione was the offensive star of the first half with four carries for 67 yards. Pelione added a fourth-quarter rushing score to his day as well. Other standouts included Nicolas Lize with four carries for 48 yards two touchdowns, Jordan Rogers (three carries, 32 yards), Michael Stritzinger (three carries, 33 yards), and Cade Vallelunga (four rushes, 32 yards).
De La Salle gained 289 rushing yards on 33 carries, enough for a 8.78 yard average. While the ball wasn't in the air much, Anthony Stepnitz was 5-of-5 passing for 30 yards and three passing scores including an 11-yard strike to Alton McCullum.
The Pilots defense was active all night long. Twenty-eight La Salle players recorded tackles against Aquinas. Standouts include Paul Kelliker had a blocked punt, Matthew Bushon recorded four tackles. Jalen Campbell (three tackles and a sack) and Maxwell Martinello, who tallied four stops including two for loss, also starred for the Pilots defense.
De La Salle dominated the Flames in every aspect of the game, recording 15 first downs and preventing Aquinas from recording a single first down on 2018 State Championship Recognition Night.
"This was a good opportunity to works some things out after the Muskegon game," Pilots head coach Mike Giannone said after the game. "We got a lot of film on a lot of players and it will help us improve for next week and again for our league opener at Brother Rice in two weeks."
De La Salle will continue their home stand with the first-ever meeting between the Pilots and Detroit Old Redford Academy next Friday, September 13 at 7 p.m.