2 Top Brother Rice Jrs Can't Overcome Eaglets

After losing their regular season finale to Orchard Lake St. Mary's in heart-breaking 24-21 fashion, Brother Rice had the opportunity for redemption as the two squads matched up in this past weekend's Prep Bowl. Unfortunately for the Warriors, no matter how hard standout juniors Chris Colasanti and Darris Sawtelle battled, it wasn't enough to overcome the big play capabilities of OLSM as Rice fell again, 20-7.

Time and time again this year, the Orchard Lake St. Mary's Eaglets relied on big plays through the air to get them into the end zone (see this morning's Story on Jr. WR Taurian Washington, with photos added ). That theme continued in the Prep Bowl, as both of St. Mary's touchdowns in their victory came through the air.

St. Mary's tendency might have been to go to the air all year long, but on Saturday night, they were forced to do so, averaging just 2.5 yards per carry on the ground, in no small part due to the efforts of the Brother Rice Warriors' junior linebacker Chris Colasanti, a top ten instate junior prospect.

The 6' 2", 221 pound Colasanti was all over the field, hounding whoever in particular happened to have the ball on that particular play.

Chris Colasanti
While only a junior and not yet a team captain, it was clear to any observer who the leader of the defense was. Colasanti was the most vocal member of the Warrior defense, calling out defensive assignments, and more importantly, continually motivating a group that was reeling, especially when the Warriors fell behind 20-0. Even in the waning moments of the game when the final result was a foregone conclusion, Colasanti challenged each and every one of his teammates to "Play for pride."

When reached for comment, Colasanti acknowledged this, stating, "Easily my biggest strength is my intensity on and off the field, and helping keep the guys motivated."

"They got us again this time, but we'll be back."

And even if Colasanti weren't the vocal leader that he is, his play on the field would speak for itself as a leader. It wasn't simply a coincidence that Colasanti was constantly around the ball; he has the physical attributes that allows him to shed blockers with ease, while at the same time never over-pursuing the play.

Colasanti mentions his intensity, and that's evident in the way he approaches every single play. Even when he was seemingly eliminated from the play when the ball would head in the opposite direction, Colasanti was in constant pursuit, chasing down Eaglets from behind as he came from the opposite side of the field on more than one occasion.

Colasanti's game, while impressive, is not yet flawless. While he doesn't over-pursue, he still has a tendency to get sucked into the middle of the line too often, which on occasion led to a loss of outside containment. Colasanti to his credit though understands he still has plenty of room for improvement. "I still have a long ways to go in just my general intelligence of the game, learning where I need to be at all times, that type of thing."

As he's just a couple months into his junior year of high school, Colasanti has yet to focus on possible college choices. But that doesn't mean colleges haven't already taken an interest in him. "I'm hearing from pretty much every Big Ten school, including Michigan," said Colasanti, as he continued, "All the Big Ten except Illinois and Northwestern, plus a bunch of others."

Darris Sawtelle
If you think that list is impressive, you'd be even more impressed to hear the list of teams trying to get in contact with Colasanti's teammate, junior offensive tackle Darris Sawtelle, who just may be one of the top five juniors in the state.

"I've been hearing from pretty much every big name program in the country," said Sawtelle, who listed Michigan, Penn State, Tennessee, Oklahoma and Louisiana State as just a few of the schools in potential pursuit of his services.

Sawtelle, while already an imposing figure standing at 6' 6" and 285 pounds, still has some things to work on when it comes to the football field.

When Sawtelle engages the defensive player, that most times is the end of that man's impact on the play. Sawtelle uses his massive arms to keep any defenders away from the ball carrier and at bay. In pass protection it is much of the same: as soon as Sawtelle engages, that player typically has little chance of collapsing the pocket or getting near their target.

Sawtelle still has some holes in his game as well. While excellent once engaged, Sawtelle's foot speed and agility is still a bit slow, causing him to occasionally struggle with faster players on the edge. Because of his size, he easily manhandles defenders as a run blocker, but he didn't consistently shed his men off to the side and reach the second level, like he has the potential to do.

Sawtelle though has no qualms about his faults. "I'm just trying to get better, every day," stated Sawtelle. "My blocking and my aggressiveness are clearly my strengths," he continued, "but there's still always room for improvement."

For the second week in a row, Brother Rice fell short of toppling the Eaglets from St. Mary's. But this pair of juniors is still clearly focused on the goals ahead; improving their play and moving on towards another state championship.

Oh, and when the state playoff pairings were released on Sunday, guess who landed in the same regional? The Warriors from Rice still might yet get a chance to topple the Eaglets.

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