Whiteford vs Riverview Gabriel Richard: Semifinal Preview

By Frank Vajcner

Whiteford continues their run for a repeat with a matchup against Riverview Gabriel Richard at Docking Stadium at Adrian College on Saturday. The Bobcats come in at 12-0, while the Pioneers are 8-4. Both teams met last season in the District Championship, with the Bobcats winning 56-19.

Riverview Gabriel Richard

Head Coach: Aaron Gant

Playoff Record: 10-9. This is the Pioneers’ tenth playoff appearance, and first ever in the State Semifinals.

Regular Season Record vs Playoff Teams: 0-3 (L 27-15 vs Montrose, L 34-6 vs Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard, L 29-26 vs Macomb Lutheran North)

How They Got Here: W 44-8 vs Mt. Clemens, W 50-14 vs Allen Park Cabrini, W 31-28 vs Clarkston Everest Collegiate

Team Leaders:

Passing: Nick Sobush (70-102, 1600 yards, 20 TD)

Rushing: EJ Bennett (90 carries, 1125 yards, 11 TD); Joey Calhoun (85 carries, 1100 yards, 18 TD)

Receiving: Derek Lesko (27 receptions, 700 yards, 12 TD); Calhoun (20 receptions, 525 yards, 5 TD)

Tackles: Bennett (75 Tackles); Calhoun (55 tackles)

Sacks: Bennett (7 sacks)

Notable: Bennett has also blocked two punts on the season…Lesko has four non-offensive touchdowns (two punt return TD, two pick sixes)…Antonio Sobush has 1000 all-purpose yards and nine total touchdowns

Whiteford Bobcats

Head Coach: Todd Thieken

Playoff Record: 34-21. This is the Bobcats’ 12th consecutive playoff appearance, and 24th in school history. They are also making their third consecutive Semifinal appearance, and sixth in school history.

Regular season record vs. 2023 playoff teams: 4-0 (W 28-21 vs. Blissfield, W 22-7 vs. Ida, W 48-8 vs. Sand Creek, W 45-7 vs. Union City)

How They Got Here: W 59-0 vs Sand Creek, W 24-14 vs Hudson, W 54-6 vs White Pigeon

Team Leaders: 

Passing: Tre Eitniear (41-79, 949 yards, 14 TD, 3 INT); Ryin Ruddy (23-37, 438 yards, 5 TD)

Rushing: Jake Iott (120 attempts, 803 yards, 7 TD); Hunter DeBarr (105 attempts, 791 yards, 12 TD); Drew Knaggs (111 attempts, 638 yards, 11 TD); Ryin Ruddy (36 attempts, 399 yards, 6 TD)

Receiving: Kolby Masserant (39 receptions, 889 yards, 12 TD); Hunter DeBarr (14 receptions, 277 yards, 4 TD); Ryin Ruddy (4 receptions, 136 yards, 2 TD)

Tackles: Jake Iott (135 tackles); Ryin Ruddy (114 tackles)

TFL: Mason DeBarr and Brandon Knaggs (11 TFL each)

Sacks: Jake Iott and Drew Knaggs (5 sacks each)

Interceptions: Kolby Masserant (6 interceptions)

Notable: Whiteford has won 26 consecutive games, which is both a school and Monroe County record. Their last loss, oddly enough, came at Docking Stadium in 2021 against Hudson…Ryin Ruddy has been the glue guy for the Bobcats, playing QB, RB, and TE on offense, and is also the second-leading tackler on defense…Kolby Masserant currently holds the records for most receptions in a career, most receiving yards in a season, most career receiving yards, and most receiving touchdowns in a season. He is one catch away from tying Josh DuPree’s record for most catches in a season.

Overview: Gabriel Richard is entering uncharted waters after upsetting Everest last week. The Pioneers have some explosive players, led by the Sobush brothers. However, Whiteford has been on another planet, and appears to have woken up after being tested by Hudson in the second round. Returning to the scene of their last loss is a matter of interest from afar. I can’t see a scenario where this is a blowout, but experience will be the difference for the Bobcats in this one.

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