By Mark Blentlinger
After defeating Lawton to claim a third straight district championship and enduring a six-week state-imposed delay, the Schoolcraft Eagles football team needed to get ready to face off against the Titans of Jackson Lumen Christi for the third time since 2016.
Jackson had pulled off a 37-34 win in the District Championship at Schoolcraft. In 2019 the Eagles traveled to Jackson to face the Titans for the Regional Championship. They lost, 30-35.
But 2020-21 was a different story, and just as exciting as the last two.
Playing at Macamly Field at Portage Central on a sunny day, the Eagles got their win and handed the Titans their first .500 season since 1988.
The first half of the game was a defensive battle; neither team saw the end zone until nine seconds before the end of the half when senior Alex Thole scored from 7 yards out. The extra point was wide and gave the Eagles a 6-0 lead going into halftime. A fumble from the Titans was recovered by the Eagles and led to a second score by Schoolcraft with a pass from Thole to Jimmy Downs. The 2-point conversion was successful from Brandon Newland to put the Eagles up 14-0. The Titans took just one play to add points off a 65-yard run from Basil Hampton. Jackson scored again, taking the game into the fourth quarter at 14-14.
With a perfect pass to Harmon DeVries, the Eagles opened it up to 21-14 – until Basil Hampton from Jackson took the ball 80 yards to the house and a 2-point conversion to give Jackson the lead, 22-21. After working their way down the field, sophomore Tagg Gott hit paydirt from 7 yards out. With a successful 2-point conversion pass to Harmon Devries, the Eagles took the lead again 29-22 with 5:53 showing on the clock. The Titans did everything they could to work their way down the field. On a long pass into the end zone from the Titans, senior Jett Gott stepped in front of the receiver to intercept the pass and seal the championship for the Eagles.
Coach Nathan Ferency told the team how proud he was by beating one of the best programs in the state of Michigan and earning the Eagles their first Regional Championship since 2001. He told the players and coaching staff to “enjoy this win for the day but tomorrow we are back at it and getting ready for the State Semi Finals.”
By Mark Blentlinger