Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Early 2014 Picks

A February prediction for all you die hard Huron League football fans.

Grosse Ile
Flat Rock

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Riverview's Stergalas Resigns

Numerous sources have confirmed that Riverview football coach Jeff Stergalas has resigned. It appears as if Stergalas will remain as the Athletic Director at the school.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Down Goes Airport

This is a reprint from October 2009. Both teams entered this game with 4-0 league records. They would end up finishing 1-2 in the league that year.

On a cold and windy night in Monroe, two Huron league heavyweights battled toe to toe in the first half. (Actually one heavyweight and one welterweight but does the size of the school really matter?) The two teams combined for over 500 yards in offense in the first half as the teams traded haymakers. The 2nd half pace would slow down a bit but SMCC landed enough punches to take a 40-22 TKO.

SMCC opened the scoring quickly by going 73 yards on 4 plays on the opening drive. Airport responded with a drive of their own by going 80 yards on 10 plays to knot the score at 7 a piece.

The Falcons would respond :38 seconds later by covering 56 yards in 2 plays which made the score 13-7 as the extra point was wide left. Once again Airport would respond by going 71 yards in 8 plays and took the lead when the extra point was good 14-13.

SMCC would open the 2nd quarter by striking quickly again. The Falcons covered 73 yards in 4 plays and led 19-14 as the 2-point conversion failed. Airport would respond once again this time with :43 seconds left in the 1st half as the Jets went 64 yards on 9 plays. The 2-point conversion was good and Airport led again 22-19.

The Jets looked like they would go into the half with the lead but Mike Howey returned the ensuing kickoff 60 yards to the Airport 15 yard line. SMCC would punch the ball in with :06 seconds left to take a 26-22 half time lead.

The 3rd quarter started with Airport taking the opening kick of the half and driving 54 yards down to the Falcon 9 yard line. SMCC's defense would stiffen and Airport turned the ball over on downs.

After the two teams traded punts SMCC would go on a 10 play 55 yard scoring drive that would take 6 minutes off of the clock. After SMCC's Chris LaBeau plunged in off of the right side the Falcons found themselves leading 33-22 with 6:57 to go in the game.

Airport would be unable to mount a drive and SMCC would take over on the Airport 47 yard line with 4:49 to go in the game. The Falcons would take 8 plays to cover those 47 yards this time scoring with 42 seconds left in the contest making the score SMCC 40 Airport 22. 

The victors rushed for 397 yards on 46 carries.Chris LaBeau led the way for SMCC with 146 yards on 19 carries and 3 touchdowns. League MVP candidate T.J. Lovell rushed for 129 yards and 2 touchdowns on just 7 carries. The Falcons did not attempt a pass.

The SMCC defense held Airport to 110 yards in the 2nd half after the Jets had gained 260 yards in the 1st half. 

Airport rushed for 305 yards on 47 carries led by Jodeci Mays who carried the ball 26 times for 156 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tyler Pluff added 92 yards on 10 carries. The Falcons held Airport's quarterback Daniel Jones to 65 yards on 8 of 18 passing.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Crockett Wins Thriller at Navarre

Here is another reprint article. This time from August 28, 2009. The star from Crockett is current Michigan State WR Tony Lippett.

Thank you blog fans for encouraging me to go and see the SMCC/Crockett game tonight at the rained soaked Navarre Field.

This may have been one of the most entertaining high school games I have ever witnessed. SMCC opened the scoring by picking up where they left off last year on special teams. While running their tricky reverse kickoff play Mike Howey ran around the left side 85 yards and the Falcons took a 6-0 first quarter lead

The Falcons took a 12-0 lead midway through the 2nd quarter on a Chris LaBeau 3 yard plunge that capped a 85 yard drive. Crockett responded with a 58 yard drive of it's own in the quarter as QB Tony Lippett scored on a 4th and 1 QB sneak from 49 yards out to make the score 12-6 Falcons at the half. The Falcons dominated the first half time of possesion by having the ball on offense for 17:39. Much of the 1st half was played in monsoon type conditions that limited the Rockets spread offense.

The 2nd half started with Crockett taking their opening drive 75 yards in 1:46 culminating with a Lippett pass to WR James White making the score 12-12. SMCC roared right back and took an 18-12 lead with a 55 yard drive of their own. Andrew Lamour used his speed to get around the left side from 23 yards out. With the 2nd half completely free of rain, QB Lippett generated another long drive which resulted in a 40 yard TD pass to Ashton Gaines the 2 point conversion was good and Crockett took a 20-18 lead into the 4th quarter.

The 4th quarter started with the Rockets on their own 3 yard line and they put together their best drive of the night eating up half of the quarter while going 97 yards. Lippett threw another TD pass, this one from 12 yards out to White to take a 26-18 lead with 6:00 minutes to go. The Falcons ensuing possesion started at their own 17 yard line and they ran the ball down Crockett's throat and scored with 1:56 left on a 2 yard plunge by Lamour making the score 26-24 Crockett. SMCC's 2 point conversion try was good on a Mike Howey run. The score was made possible by a pancake block by Robbie Cardella on a would be Crockett defender.

This is where the game gets interesting. Crockett gets the ball back at their own 25 with 1:51 left. Lippett looks to pick up where he left off throwing the ball down the field. With 57 seconds left, SMCC conerback "John John" Qualey intercepts a Lippett pass and the Falcons are back in business at their own 39 yard line. The Falcons start immediately moving the ball down field en route to a possible game winning score. With 26 seconds left a Falcon ball carrier coughs up the football at the Rocket's 36 yard line. Enter Crockett QB Tony Lippett, it simply took the athletic senior 3 plays to go 41 yards down to the Falcon 23 yard line with 2 seconds to play. With one snap left before overtime, Lippett took the snap out of the shot gun and lofted a soft pass to sophomore James White who had gotten behind the Falcon defense again and caught his 3rd touchdown of the game. The Crockett team rushed the field and celebrated as 32-26 winners in a game for the ages.

Most of SMCC's offense came on the ground. The Falcons rushed for 273 yards on 59 carries. Chris LaBeau's 77 yards led SMCC in rushing as 6 players shared the carries. Crockett's Tony Lippett finished the game with some gaudy numbers. The senior was 15-21 for 351 yards and 4 touchdowns. He also had 4 carries for 59 yards and a touchdown. Rumor has it that Lippett skipped the half time speech of Coach Rod Oden and sold 12 popcorns and a slushy at the concession stand and did a halftime routine with the Crockett cheerleaders.

I stick by my prediction that this game would make SMCC a better team for the playoffs. This team was the best the Falcons will see in the regular season. With apologies to Andrew Mayrand from Huron, this is also the best QB the Falcons will see all year as well.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Football Rules the League

Well, I guess we found out how much the blog readers were interested in talking about other Huron League sports during the winter months when there is no football.

I thought I would start with something different by posting a few old things I wrote back when the blog had just gotten started.

The blog was launched back on August 9th of 2009. I'm not sure what I was thinking, but it has been fun. I guess 582,721 visitors can't be wrong. Here is a quick article I wrote about the league coaches on August 13, 2009. It's funny how the league has changed a bit, but still stays the same.

Huron League Coaches

One of the reasons I think the Huron League is such a good football conference is because of it's coaches. Good coaching in high school football is a must if you want to have a good football program. Let's look closely at the Huron League in that regard. I think it is safe to say that the top four teams in the league are Airport, Jefferson, SMCC and Milan in no particular order. These schools have hard working experienced coaches who know what it takes to win. At this point they have put more time into their programs than the other coaches in the league and that experience shows a majority of the time.

Marc Cisco has been coaching at Jefferson since basically the beginning of time. Actually he has been coaching 43 seasons coming into this one. Cisco was a less than stellar 31-54-3 in his first 10 seasons. Since that time he has had only 8 losing seasons in 32 years and his record includes a 1994 State Championship. Whether you like Cisco's offensive system or not the guys wins games consistently.

Jack Giarmo has been an outstanding coach for SMCC since he took over in the late 90's. Giarmo's first season was a woeful 1-8 but since then the Falcons have been a state power in their division. Once again Giarmo plays a system that isn't flashy but it produces results. SMCC is easily the smallest school in the league but nobody ever looks forward to playing them. I can't help but think that Giarmo will win a State Championship in the near future.

When Eric Redmond arrived at Airport in 1996 did anybody really expect him to turn the Jet program around? The Jets had only had 5 winning season in the previous 40 years. Redmond took his lumps early on going 3-6 in his first two seasons. From then on Airport has basically been a team to be reckoned with in the Huron League. Some will argue that Airport is bigger than every other school in the league but why didn't they win prior to that. Redmond is an experienced coach who constantly puts the time in to make sure his team is the absolute best that they can be.

Steve Robb has been coaching at Milan the past 24 seasons. He has had great seasons, mediocre seasons and a few bad ones. He has built a program in which he puts his trust in his seniors to provide leadership both during the season and during the off-season in which his seniors basically run the weight room program. He constantly has 45 -50 kids on the team and has been a master of the two-platoon system. His teams are always ready to play and are never an easy "W" for anyone.

The other coaches are at different points in their careers when it comes to their respective schools. You have a couple of youngsters trying to build programs and you have a couple of seasoned veterans.

Joe Pruchnicki has been coaching about as long as anyone in the State of Michigan and has had numerous head coaching stops. He has taken a few schools to the playoffs and was a nice find for the Rams when they hired him 4 years ago. It's hard to imagine that someone has a smaller playbook than Marc Cisco, Pruchnicki simply writes the plays on his fingers. Pruchnicki has brought some great experience to Flat Rock and it has resulted in a much more competitive program that has gone 9-9 the past two seasons.

Jeff Stergalas takes over this season at Riverview. Stergalas himself is a product of what many call the "Cradle of Coaches" at Riverview. Stergalas is known for the great success he had at Fordson High School in Dearborn which included a State Championship with the Tractors. It will probably take some time before the Pirates challenge for a league title but the numbers are already up at Riverview and a winning season is probably right around the corner.

Many thought Rick Dorn was crazy when he hired Dan Kalbfleish over at New Boston Huron. The kid was fresh out of college and was a meager 22 years old. Kalbfleish hasn't lit the world on fire record wise since he arrived but who would against this Huron League schedule. He has changed the entire culture at Huron when it comes to football. Last year's 4-5 record was their best since 1978 and the Chiefs scored a school record for points. Kalbfleish is a tireless worker who has all of his kids in the program lifting weights year round. Look for Kalbfleish to be around as long as a Cisco and look for him to start winning. He is doing everything right and just may need a bit more experience in this excellent coaches league.

Many believe that success may not be an option for John Bodner over at Grosse Ile. The Red Devils have had success over the years but many of their athletes flock to the upteen other sports they offer on the island. This should undoubtedly be Bodner's best team he has had but how does a young coach with limited experience be successful in this gauntlet of great coaches? Bodner doubles as the track coach on the island and has been able to get his athletes to run track and play football. If he can establish some depth the wins will eventually come.

We really do have some excellent coaches in this league and a well played brand of football. I think the two go hand in hand. Only a few short weeeks until the first games of the season. I look forward to watching these coaches match wits.

*Bold indicates coach is still active at same school