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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thoughts from the OLSM-Grand Rapids Christian D-3 Title Game

If I would have been told last night that there was going to be a game that had just as much excitement and was just as good as the Brother Rice-Muskegon game, I wouldn't have believed it. But that's exactly how good this game was and once again, I'll try to break it down.

- Drake Harris, Drake Harris, Drake Harris. The junior receiver put together one of the best individual performances in state finals history on Saturday. It was tremendous catch after tremendous catch, including two big grabs in the final drive of the game. There was just nothing thrown in his direction that he didn't catch. A simply sensational performance by the Michigan State bound star.

- Harris set the single season record for receiving yards in a season as he cleared the 2,000 yard mark on Saturday and finished the season with 91 catches and 25 touchdowns, just one shy of the state record for receiving touchdowns.

- Harris also broke the state finals record for receiving yards in a state finals game with 243 yards, smashing the previous record of 204.

- Putting together a performance that nearly matched Harris' performance on Saturday was that of Parker McInnis and Grant Niemiec, who rushed for over 400 yards combined and gashed the Grand Rapids Christian defense over and over and over.

- One thing that will be overlooked going forward is the fact that the St. Mary's offensive line was once again dominant for the second straight state finals. The Eaglet front line, with senior road-grader Austin Johnson had its way with the Grand Rapids Christian defense and helped lead the OLSM offense to a state finals record 579 yards of offense.

- Offense anyone? This game shattered the offensive record book as the two teams combined for over 1,000 total yards for the first time in state finals history (1,033 to be exact).

- Don't overlook the play from quarterback Matt Linehan in the first half to help the Eaglets climb back into the game after facing a 20-7 deficit. Linehan made some big throws to sophomore receiver Van Jefferson, including a 33 yard strike to cut the GRC lead to 20-14 late in the first half.

- The decision of the game came in overtime when the Eaglets passed up the opportunity to kick a chip shot field goal and went for it on fourth down on the three yard line. The pass fell incomplete and the Grand Rapids Christian kicked the field goal for the win on the very first play of its offensive possession.

- You can't blame George Porritt and the Eaglet coaching staff to go for it on fourth down, because there was no sure thing that three points would have been enough to hold off GRC until the next overtime. With no answer for Drake Harris, GRC would have had three opportunities to win the game with a pass to Harris in the end zone.

- The flip side of the argument would have been to kick the field goal and hope that the defense can hold off GRC for four plays and give the offense another opportunity to punch it into the end zone. But ultimately I agree with the decision to go for the touchdown on fourth down and put the pressure back on Grand Rapids Christian.

- Don't overlook what the OLSM senior class was able to accomplish, leading a team to the state title game for four consecutive seasons is no easy task, regardless of what division a team is from.

- While the Eaglets will graduate a large senior class, there is no doubt that the Eaglets will be back to Ford Field in the very near future. Making it to the state title game nine times out of the past 13 years is no fluke, and Porritt will have his team ready for a push for another appearance next season.

- It's strange, but maybe it's not an East Grand Rapids curse for the Eaglets, but rather a Grand Rapids curse. It is a strange trend, but I'm not one to believe in curses, and one thing is for sure: Grand Rapids based teams have had OLSM's number dating back to 2007. St. Mary's did win a state title game over a Grand Rapids team back in 1999 with a D-4 title coming over Grand Rapids South Christian.

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