You hear the cliche' all the time. Sports, especially football, can come down to a game of inches. For those of you that do not know, I do play-by-play for Freeland High School, located in Mid Michigan, about twenty miles west of Saginaw. They are like most communities who share a passion for their football teams and their athletics in general. "Friday Night Lights" are a Falcon tradition, just like in Texas, Florida, Georgia, and any other state.
This past Saturday, it was state semi-final weekend in the state of Michigan for the traditional 11 man football teams. At stake was a trip to Ford Field next weekend, and a birth in the state championships. For some teams, this would be their first opportunity. For others, it was a chance for a return trip, and a chance to add to their trophy cases. For Freeland, this would be a chance to go into un-chartered waters, their first chance at Michigan's "holy grail" of high school football. A culmination of a season of hard work, summer weight lifting sessions, 7 on 7 tournaments, and in the case of some of the players, four years of being on the varsity team.
This group of Falcons has blessed me and their faithful with double overtime wins, blocked extra points for wins in those double overtimes, last second field goal wins, and double digit comeback wins in the last two minutes of games. From my perspective, a broadcaster's dream. I'm sure head coach Kevin Townsend would disagree with the dream part, but they are indeed great memories. Memories that in time will grow and be great to reminisce about.
I have been honored to be a small part of this experience as their play by play guy. I started on a whim in 2014 with their playoff encounter with Menominee. It expanded to doing all of their games the next year, including all of their playoff runs. Head Coach Kevin Townsend has been gracious with his time doing coaches shows, with me since 2017. Sharing the highs of big wins, and being extra gracious in the toughest of defeats. When my mom passed away during the beginning of the 2018 season, Kevin, his coaching staff, and the community came up to me and paid their respect, a gesture that I will never, ever forget. People ask, why do you drive 90 miles one way to broadcast a game. This is why.
Saturday's setting was just like any other semi-final Saturday in November in Michigan High School Playoff Football. Chilly temperatures, a hint of snow flurries, and an anticipation of what could be on Thanksgiving weekend, a trip to the state championship at Ford Field in downtown Detroit. Both Freeland and Chelsea came out, and it was like a championship heavyweight fight. Both teams back and forth, marching down the field, the halftime score 16-14, in favor of Chelsea. Chelsea jumped out to two score leads, only to have Freeland cut the lead down to one score each time, with a response. Freeland would stop Chelsea on a three and out, and get the ball with a little under 4 minutes remaining. They would proceed to march down the field, with clock management skills that professional teams would marvel at, and should take note of, i.e. Detroit.
It would all come down to the last minute. Freeland was faced with fourth down and about a yard and a half, possibly two yards at the three yard line. Chelsea was using their timeouts, just in case they needed a last minute drive. :54.7 seconds left. Freeland would break the huddle and come up to the line of scrimmage. Senior quarterback Bryson Huckeby would take it around the right side into a surging Chelsea defensive line. There would be a pile up near the one yard line, and after it was all said and done, there would be a measurement. Inches short. Chelsea would hold on, they would advance to the state championship with a 30-27 win.
Inches short. But only on the football field. As far as memories, and accomplishments, they made it by a mile. This senior class, led by Bryson Huckeby, Alex Duley, Jacob Kundinger, CJ Shultz, Garret Pistro, yes this loss will sting for a while. But for all of what they have done, they will look back one day, proud.
For those memories, I say thank you. I get to look back on those and smile. I got the privilege of calling the most exciting football game in my lifetime. And for that, I say thank you. For the seniors, I say thank you! For head coach Kevin Townsend and the Freeland community and parents, I say Thank you! And I also say, for Head Coach Kevin Townsend, the juniors, sophomores, and freshmen coming up, I say I CAN'T WAIT for next year! GO FALCONS!!
Cincinnati, here is your chance. Oregon laid an absolute egg. I had an idea they were on borrowed time. Utah exposed them, big time. I assume the committee will put them 4th. There is some thinking that Michigan could leap frog them to the 4th spot. The committee wouldn't do that, now would they? Cincinnati fans and faithful have lobbied and in some instances, whined on how they deserve to be 4th. Here is their opportunity. Georgia will be one, Alabama will be two, Ohio State will be three. Cincinnati or Michigan at 4. I have to think it will be Cincinnati. Michigan will be 5, but will get their chance Saturday to advance, if they can finally solve Ohio State. It will be at home. there is no way the committee would leap frog an overrated Notre Dame over Michigan, would they. It's getting interesting. But it is beginning to play out, just like it always does.
The Captain Lou Extravaganza
8-10PMET Tuesday Nights
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