BY DAN STICKRADT
CLARKSTON — Returning most off its lineup from last season’s state finalist squad, Rochester Adams-Stoney Creek Unified’s boys ski team is right where veteran coach Pete Driscoll predicted.
Unified is one of the top teams in the Pine Knob Division of the Southeastern Michigan Ski League this winter and one of the better teams in the state as well.
Adams-Stoney Creek currently sits tied atop the standings with Clarkston at 5-0 and is priming for the championship season in February.
Adams-Stoney Creek finished third at the divisional meet, second at the regional, seventh at the SEMSL meet and eighth at the Division 1 state finals last season. Unified has set the goals much higher this winter.
“We feel that, based on the way we have been skiing, we have as good a chance as anybody,” said Driscoll. “We finished fifth (out of 12 schools) at the Traverse City Invitational and then I realized that we could be one of the better teams. There were a lot of powerhouse teams up there and we beat all of the teams from down here at there. The teams that finished ahead of us, Petoskey, Traverse City Central, Traverse City West and Cadillac are all very strong.”
Seniors Jonathan Stanton, Matt Corsi and Colie Fleming and juniorJosh Worey lead Adams. Freshmen Colin Depart and William Blackmer and sophomores Ethan Walsh and Eli King have joined the fold on a 10-skier varsity.
Unified had several top-30 finishers at the Traverse City Invite on Jan. 30 and scored 170.5 points — less than two points behind Cadillac and out of fourth place.
“We have some high goals,” said Driscoll. “We have a lot of depth, which is good to have because you never know when someone might fall on the hill. We have 54 (boys and girls) on the team and this is by far the biggest team we’ve had in my 12 years here. I guess having death is a good thing to have. We saw our depth at the Traverse City Invitational.
“We hope to contend in the divisional, regional and SEMSL and if we make it, have a strong finish at state,” added Driscoll. “I think we’re better overall than last year. We only graduated one of our top (six) racers and we have some freshmen and sophomores who have stepped in nicely and are doing a good job for us.”
The Adams-Stoney Creek Unified girls team is tied for second in the Pine Knob Divisional standings with a 4-1 record, trailing only Pontiac Notre Dame Prep.
“There’s a lot of parity on the girls side,” said Driscoll. “There are several good teams in our division and in our regional. We hope to qualify this year because last year we weren’t that far off qualifying. It was a deep regional and I expect it to be again this year.”
Collecting 201.5 points at the Traverse City Invite, Adams-Stoney Creek Unified’s girls finished fifth and was the second-highest finisher for downside teams, trailing Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood as for local schools. Traverse City Central, Traverse City West and Petoskey were the top three schools overall.
Freshman Kaylee Richardson is having a grand debut this season, finishing in the top 10 at just about every race this season. She won the slalom and finished fourth in the giant slalom at Traverse City to add to her growing resume.
“Having a freshman this talented on our team has made a difference. We haven’t had a freshman like this in a long, long time,” said Driscoll. “And we have most of our girls team back this season, so we’re doing well. We have depth with the girls, too.”
Junior Molly Day, sophomore Olivia Guzzardo, junior Amelia Buckmaster, sophomore Ashley Jacobson, senior Madison Murphy, sophomore Jacque Murphy and senior Emma Ferrari have also gained starts for Unified’s girls team this season.
“I think we can be in the mix at the end of the season,” said Driscoll. “I know our regional is tough. (Birmingham) Marian is loaded, Bloomfield Hills is good, Lake Orion, Fenton — there is a lotto good teams in our region. If we can have everyone have a good day at the regional, then I know we can qualify.”