If passion were a stat, Flint Carman Ainswoth linebacker/fullback Quintin Patilla would rate at the top of almost any list. Coming off of a crushing 38-13 loss Grand Rapids Creston two weeks ago, the Cavaliers were looking to get back on track versus Ann Arbor Huron Friday evening. When the River Rats scored a touchdown on their opening play from scrimmage, Patilla helped rally his club. From there the onslaught began. "I told Coach Carr I was coming down here to get a victory," Patilla said. "I told him that I was sorry that I was going to have to take one from one of his city schools, but we had to do what we had to do."
When the dust settled the Cavaliers had bombarded the home team for 37 points on their way to an 18 point victory. Patilla set the tone early from his fullback position when he laid a crushing block on an ISO to spring his freshman running back for a 60-yard touchdown. In a game where he got few touches on offense, and not many hits on defense (because of the spread attack the River Rats employed), Patilla's unselfishness and emotion stood out.
"The thing is, this isn't about me going to Michigan," Patilla said. "It isn’t about me at all. It’s about this team right now. I don't have to get a bunch of stats. When I go to Michigan, then it will be about that team. We have the running back, #13…he’s just a freshman. The way I feel is, as my friend and as my teammate, I’m looking out for his best interest. I feel like if I go out and sacrifice my body for him, he will go out and sacrifice his body for me. That’s what happened on that long run. I don’t have a problem with being a fullback because that’s just like playing linebacker. You still get to pop people. You just don’t get a stat for it. All these teams know I'm going to Michigan. They all key on me, but when they do that, my teammates get off. I'm just glad that I got a chance to come out here and play this great group of guys. Man I wouldn’t trade this in for nothing in the world!"
As willing as he was to help his teammates be successful, Patilla found a little time to shine himself. Early in the fourth quarter the future Michigan Wolverine took a hand off up the middle, cut to the outside, and out-raced the River Rat defenders 80 yards for a game-sealing touchdown. "It was a veer run, so that means it was either a give or a pull by the quarterback," Patilla explained. "[My QB] thinks that he is the best running back on the team (laughing). When he puts it in, he always wants to pull it out. When I saw the hole, it was just wide open, so I just grabbed it. I saw the receiver throw a good block on the corner, and I cut back, and I was like, 'man, these dudes can’t catch me.'"
Now 3-2 overall, and 2-1 in the Big Nine conference, the Cavaliers are poised to make another playoff run. According to Patilla, his team is definitely on the right track. "This is the team’s best game of the season," Patilla said. "We lost the first game to Flushing because we were still learning at that point. We didn’t play as well as we should have last weeks and Creston was a good physical team. Ann Arbor Huron was a good team for us to play because they are equivalent to some of the teams in the Big Nine like Grand Blanc or Davison. So for us to come out here and dominate this game, 37-19, we are doing a hell of a good job. We just need to keep improving. On offense, we have to improve the timing on the passing routes. The defense, right now, is playing real hot. This is the hottest the defense has played all year. But there are still some things that we need to fine tune on defense. Once we do, Grand Blanc and Davison better watch out man! They think we’re some pushovers right now. We are going to show them we are the truth."
Even though Patilla's focus remains directed at his high school team, he has frequently spoken to his future Michigan coaches and teammates. As a sideline regular at home games he has become quite familiar with many of the other incoming freshman, and a bond is already being forged. "I've talked to the coaches and they said that they wanted me to put on some weight once the season is over," recalled Patilla. "They think that I can do like my boy Otis Wiley is doing up at State and make an impact right off the bat. I’ve been out there working as hard as I can to do it. Me and Brandon Graham have talked about how we are trying to come in and dominate from the start. Cobrani [Mixon]…that’s a close friend of mine. We’ve never lived in the same city, but we've always competed against each other. For some of our basketball tournaments we would go down to Ohio. We bonded from there. He’s a close friend already. That is going to be my roommate by the way. Steve Brown was at a game and he was talking about what we were going to do. David Cone was at the Notre Dame game also. We are just excited man. It’s the Big House man. If you can’t get excited to go to the Big House or any football game, whether it’s D-1, D-2, D-3, then you are in it for the wrong reason. You have to be excited about what you do! I’m trying to get out there and play. I love this game too much!"