Football star, wrestling state champ, 'good human being'

Novi Detroit Catholic Central's Brendin Yatooma is a respected leader in his school

By Steve Stein

Brendin Yatooma

Brendin Yatooma

Brendin Yatooma is a three-year starter on the perennial power Novi Detroit Catholic Central High School football team and a co-captain this season. He's also a Division 1 individual state champion wrestler for the Shamrocks, who have won three consecutive Division 1 team state titles. But there is much more to this 17-year-old from South Lyon than tackles and takedowns.


"Brendin is a good human being, a great kid, a leader," said third-year Catholic Central football coach Dan Anderson. Indeed he is. Yatooma also is a champion in the classroom with a 3.9 grade-point average at a school with a reputation for rigorous academics. He's president of the school's senior class.

 

In addition, the student athlete is on the board of directors of The Caleb White Project, founded by a Catholic Central senior.The Caleb White Project is a Detroit-based not-for-profit organization made up of young people who have a mission to help the homeless and less fortunate in the Motor City.


Anderson said leadership on and off the field is the reason why Yatooma was selected as one of five Catholic Central football team captains by his teammates.


"Brendin always does what he's supposed to be doing. The kids respect him for that, and his hard work," Anderson said. "He never takes a rep off in football. Not in a game and not in practice."


Yatooma said while he's a vocal leader with his football teammates, what's just as important is he tries to do all the little things right, whether it's during a big moment in a game or during a drill in a team workout.


A 6-foot, 220-pounder, Yatooma has been a linebacker and H-back during his Catholic Central football career, seeing more action as linebacker. He's one of only a handful of two-way starters on this season's team. With eight games in the books this season, he has made 110 tackles during his high school career and had 390 yards in total offense. He has scored six touchdowns this season.


"I love playing offense and defense," he said. "I don't want to leave the field. Football is my favorite sport. I love putting on the pads and hitting people."


The Catholic Central football team was 4-4 heading into its final game of the regular season, an Oct. 26 rematch against Orchard Lake St. Mary's in the Catholic League championship game at Eastern Michigan University. That .500 record might not seem impressive, but it includes a 7-3 win over arch-rival Birmingham Brother Rice on Sept. 29 in the 75th Boys Bowl game -- Yatooma and the Catholic Central defense held Brother Rice to 126 total yards -- and a 20-14 victory over previously undefeated St. Mary's on Oct. 11.


Each team the Shamrocks faced during those eight regular-season games, including two from Ohio, qualified for post-season play.


"Fine with me," Yatooma said about the tough competition. "I love it."


The Catholic Central football team made it to the Division 1 final four in Yatooma's sophomore season. Last year the Shamrocks lost to West Bloomfield in a Division 1 district championship game. Yatooma is headed into his fourth season on the Catholic Central wrestling team.


He won the 215-pound individual state championship last winter. He finished eighth in the state at 189 pounds when he was a sophomore. "Wrestling is a great sport," Yatooma said. "Like football, it teaches you [how to make you tough] and keeps you in shape."


After attending South Lyon schools through eighth grade, Yatooma decided to go to Catholic Central. He said he went to Catholic Central because of the football and wrestling programs and tough academics. His father, Adam, is a 1992 Catholic Central graduate.


"My dad told me great things about Catholic Central, but he left the decision on where I wanted to go to high school up to me," Yatooma said. "I made the right decision. I wouldn't have been happier anywhere else."


Yatooma's mother is Tara. He has a brother Logan, 14, a freshman at Catholic Central.


Yatooma is going to college after he graduates from Catholic Central, but he hasn't made a decision as to where. And he doesn't know if he'll play football or wrestle in college


"Brendin will be successful wherever he goes to college," Anderson said. "He has the work ethic and determination to succeed that's needed at the next level."