Monday, October 22, 2012

Sterling Heights Stevenson History and Team

Written, Monday October 22nd, at 5:45 PM

In a stunning and interesting match-up, no one saw this one coming. Not even the Titans or the Dragons.

Yes it will be on Friday night the Sterling Heights Stevenson Titans takes the long journey into Oakland County and into Lake Orion and take on the Dragons.

This will be the second time these teams have met in the playoffs. The first time they met was wild.

It was in the 2008 Regional Finals at Runkel Field in Sterling Heights, in which the Dragons who were 10-1 at the time had a 35-7 lead early in the fourth quarter only to see quarterback Jason Fracassa lead the Titans to score 29 unanswered points to take a 36-35 lead late in the fourth quarter but only to see Lake Orion kicker Jeff Heath kicked the game winning 49 yard field goal to send the Dragons to the State Semifinals 38-36 over Sterling Heights Stevenson.

The next season the Titans went to the state finals before falling to Novi Detroit Catholic Central (lost 31-21.) Legendary long time coach Rick Bye retired after that game and former assistant Steve Goralski took over. Goralski was a former player under Bye at Stevenson and knows the program inside out in his third season as head coach and 23 years overall.

Sterling Heights Stevenson went 1-8 and 0-5 in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division in 2011 but in 2012 the Titans are 6-3 and 3-2 in the league, a five win improvement from 2011. Stevenson’s big wins of the season were at Chippewa Valley (24-7: Week Seven), at Dan Barnabo over Romeo (22-18: Week Five), and at Howell (34-14: Week One.)

The Titans have also been competitive in losses, they lost at Runkel Field to Macomb Dakota in week two 34-14 then the final two weeks of the season, Stevenson lost tough games, first at Swienhart Field to Utica Eisenhower 23-16 in week eight and then last week to Warren Mott in overtime 26-23 at Runkel Field.

The strength of the Titans has been its kicking game. This season Stevenson has two very good kickers. The Titans brought in a transfer from Utica Eisenhower in Salvatore Ciraulo. Ciraulo is the kickoff specialist and is also place kicker. Stevenson has yet another kicker in Nick Mearnic, who is the punter and the field goal kicker. Mearnic can punt a ball 60 yards and can kick long field goals if needed.

The Titans have yet another very good offense, not like the frantic pace that Fraccassa did but this team does have the weapons. Stevenson is led by junior quarterback Kyle Maxson. Maxson has grown to the position during the season and has improved each week.

Maxson has a good arm and also has a deep threat in wide receiver Tyler Sykes. That combo has done damage against MAC Red foes this season.

Sykes has caught touchdown passes in the last three games and has became the deep threat down field for Sterling Heights Stevenson.

Maxson has on the other side of Sykes is wide receiver Greg McDade. McDade had two touchdowns against the Big Reds and he has yet another weapon in tight end Karl Robertson, who had a 39 yard touchdown catch against Chippewa Valley. Also the Titans do have yet another wide receiver in the slot in Robert Thompson. Thompson has had some crucial third down plays to keep drives alive for Stevenson in that stretch.

The Titans have senior running back Trevon Bauch. Bauch has power and is quick and talented. He was huge last week in scoring a touchdown against Warren Mott in scoring a three yard touchdown with power and speed. Bauch also has had big games against Chippewa Valley and Romeo. He had 17 carries for 147 yards in their week seven win over the Big Reds and also ran the winning touchdown against the Bulldogs in a 22-18 win at Dan Barnabo Field. Stevenson also has John Griffin as well who gets his fair share of the carries.

The Titans like to run the ball and is a very good running team but they do have a very good passing game in that process. Stevenson this season averaged 28.7 points per game (259 points) while allowing 17.1 points per game (154 points.)

The Titans are also good on defense, allowing only 17 points per game, which is third in the MAC Red. They are a 3-4 defense. Stevenson is anchored by a big defensive lineman in 6.1, 290 pounds, Curtis Gee and also has a good line up front. Stevenson also has five very good linebackers and secondary players to help with it's 3-4 defense in Austin Kirk, Lance Gross, and Cody Ciaramitaro, Sultan Farobni, and John Carlin.

If you want to know anything in fashion about the Titans the jerseys and pants are the same as in 2008 but the helmets have changed though from the dark blue to the white with the S on them. They have player last names on the back of the jerseys.

Sterling Heights Stevenson reminds me a lot of the former formations that NFL teams use, in 2008 the Titans ran a spread offense but with Fracassa gone, Stevenson has gone to more of a traditional look and do run a package of power football not only under center but in the spread formation as well. The Titans will still use the spread look but run the same stuff under former coach Rick Bye. They can throw, run, and use the tight end a lot.

The Titans and Dragons are very similar teams when it comes to team speed (Lake Orion was the 2011-2012 State Champions in Track: Stevenson is a MAC power in Track.) Both teams uses their team speed to their strength, they both have good running backs, good lines, good defenses, and have good quarterbacks who just controls the game well.

But like I said we'll see what happens Friday night.

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