Rochester Adams beat West Bloomfield in the season-opener and the regional championship in 2021, so the Highlanders knew the Lakers had this game in Michigan high school football's Week 5 circled.
When West Bloomfield's Brandon Davis-Swain recovered a fumble on Adams' opening drive and the offense found the end zone just four plays later, it was early gut-check time for Tony Patritto's squad.
The Highlanders didn't blink.
Despite an early fumble, a missed field goal and a dropped potential touchdown — all in the opening quarter — Adams scored three consecutive touchdowns in the second quarter, topping West Bloomfield, 35-18.
"I didn't do anything, this is a player-led team," Patritto said. "They came together and kind of settled in. ... We've got a lot of great leaders, and while we didn't play all four quarters yet, we made enough plays to get the job done."
WEEK 5 SCORES:Michigan high school football across the state
The Highlanders didn't find the end zone until the second quarter, but once they did they didn't stop.
Nick Paterra took a handoff on the first play of the quarter and ran through the Lakers' defense to tie the score at seven. After an 11-play West Bloomfield drive stalled — in large part because of a Tait Picot sack as he flew off the edge, the first of several big plays from the senior — the Highlanders marched again.
Parker Picot converted a QB sneak on fourth-and-1 deep in Adams' own territory on the initial set of downs, which sparked the drive. He found Antonio Randazo for a gain of 18 on the next play, and a West Bloomfield personal foul added on another 15 yards.
Three plays later, on third-and-11, the Adams QB found junior tight end Brady Prieskorn wide open down the field after a busted coverage; the four-star recruit breezed into the end zone to make it 14-7.
The combination of West Bloomfield's personal fouls and mistakes changed the complexion of the game.
On the ensuing kickoff, West Bloomfield defensive back Bryce Rowe returned the kick up the left sideline, then got in a scrum by the Lakers bench. Afterward, Rowe was flagged for two personal fouls and ejected, and the Lakers were forced to start the drive from their own 6.
"Dropped passes, missed blocks, one play we had back-to-back penalties, 30 yards of penalties," West Bloomfield coach Tyrice Grice said. "It was the mental, undisciplined mistakes that players make that got us.
"So we've got to get back Monday and really focus on that, we know the only way we're going to lose is if we beat ourselves and we did that today."
West Bloomfield went three-and-out, and after a 36-yard punt, the Lakers were again assessed a personal foul, setting up the Highlanders just a yard outside of the red zone to begin their drive.
They scored four plays later — on an 11-yard touchdown rush on fourth down by Tanner Buck — to take a two-touchdown lead.
Halftime promised a change.
After Ryan Krauthamer hit a 35-yard field goal as the first half ended to cut the deficit to 21-10, the Lakers marched on their opening drive of the second. West Bloomfield handed it to Kenneth Jones III on six of the first nine plays to get down to Adams' 10 yard line.
West Bloomfield couldn't punch it in, though, and had to settle for a 22-yard field goal attempt; this time, it was swatted by Tait Picot.
Adams then put together an 11-play 80-yard touchdown drive — again aided by a West Bloomfield personal foul, its fifth of the night — capped by a 9-yard scamper by the Alabama-bound Parker Picot (on a baseball scholarship) to make it 28-10.
"We knew coming into this they were going to want it, we just had to want it more," he said. "Both teams are talented and really it came down to that."
West Bloomfield's next drive was particularly painful. It started well, with a 38-yard strike from Reqez Nance to Semaj Morgan — who connected on the game's opening touchdown for West Bloomfield — to get past midfield .
Nance was pressured on the following play; trying to use his speed, he ran back and back and back, but his incomplete throw didn't reach the line of scrimmage.
He was called for intentional grounding, resulting in a loss of 38. The Lakers tried to kick it away three plays later, but the punter's knee was ruled down as he fielded the snap, resulting in a loss of 16 and gave the ball back to Adams.
"It's exactly what we were saying before the game that couldn't happen," Grice said. "Sometimes when you're a winning program you need to learn to humble yourself. Week in and week out, you can't take a week off.
"This week, we had some guys who didn't prepare, weren't mentally ready, and that showed up in the game tonight. We were dealing with things in practice, but that's no excuse, we have to come out and execute and we didn't do that."
Adams offense rolls
When West Bloomfield made mistakes, the Highlanders made sure to take advantage.
On the second play of the drive following the failed punt, Parker Picot again looked for his favorite target, Prieskorn.
The 6-foot-6 receiver ran a slant and hauled the pass from Picot in through triple coverage, dragging defenders across the goal line for his second score, which made it 35-10.
West Bloomfield added a late touchdown on a deep strike from Nance to Deonte Pippen for the final score.
The Highlanders' win creates a three-way tie in the OAA-Red between West Bloomfield, Rochester Adams and Clarkston (which beat Adams in Week 2 and lost to West Bloomfield in Week 3).
"I think it sent a message and made everyone open up their eyes and see what we can do," Parker Picot said. "I think we played very well, definitely some things we can clean up on because we still haven't gone all four quarters, our coaches are preaching that, and tonight we weren't quite there, but we got the job done."
This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: West Bloomfield self-destructs in 35-18 loss to Rochester Adams