YPSILANTI >> Clarkston Everest Collegiate has proved a microwave small-school power in Metro Detroit’s prep football ranks in less than a decade. It happened in what seemed like an instant. Just eight years ago, the Mountaineers didn’t even have their own program. They won six of their first seven games played in their inaugural 2013 campaign and haven’t missed a beat since.
On Saturday, Everest coasted to their second Catholic League championship in a row on the campus of Eastern Michigan University by rocking Riverview Gabriel Richard 26-7 in a rematch of last season’s nip-and-tuck affair for the crown at Ford Field. Thanks to the convincing victory in the midst of a rain storm on the grey-turfed Rynearson Stadium, the mighty Mountaineers wrap-up the regular season undefeated (8-0) for the first time in school history.
Junior quarterback Giovanni Mastromatteo was golden in the pocket against Gabriel Richard, picking his spots while picking apart the Pioneers secondary. Mastromatteo hit receiver Joey Thibodeau for an 8-yard score to tie the game 7-7 in the second quarter and then found Thibodeau again for an 85-yard touchdown bomb in the third frame to place Everest on top to stay. His 9-yard scramble for a score made it 20-7 and Jack Laceski’s 3-yard touchdown romp was the icing on the cake. Thibodeau gave props to his signal caller.
“Gio through some great balls today……we’d been working on the passing game all week at practice and it paid off,” he said.
Even though Everest has never finished a regular season under .500 and averages eight wins per year, Thibodeau still feels the program often gets overlooked. He’s okay with that though.
“Like today, we face adversity head-on, we like being the underdogs,” he said. “We just play real hard and let the rest take care of itself.”
Last year, the Mountaineers outlasted Gabriel Richard 36-35 in the Prep Bowl. Everest head coach and architect of the Mountaineers’ program, Michael Pruchnicki praised his opponents after Saturday’s win.
“We’ve had some fun battles with those guys, Tom (Michalsen) does a superb job at Gabriel Richard and we really respect the way they play football,” he said
Pruchnicki and his club aren’t satisfied with simply another league title and a perfect record in the regular season.
Two years ago, the Mountaineers won a Division 8 district championship. In last season’s playoffs, Everest lost to Flint Beecher 22-14 in a district final.
Gabriel Richard closes the 2019 regular season sitting at 7-2. The Pioneers have qualified for the playoffs in five of the last six years. Michalsen’s squad snagged a Division 7 district crown last fall.