The St. Patrick Shamrocks traveled to the Superior Dome in Marquette to face the Panthers of Pickford in the MHSAA 8-Player Division 2 State Championship on Saturday.
Pickford entered the game with an 11-1 record, with their only loss of the season being a 20 to 14 week three loss to Powers North Central. Pickford defeated Hillman 40-9 in the semi-finals.
The Shamrocks entered the game 12-0 after defeating Climax Scotts 49-6 in the semi-finals.
Pickford would get on the board first when senior running back Matt Bush broke free for a 31-yard touchdown run. Panther senior QB Jimmy Storey would keep the ball himself on the two-point conversion attempt, and the Panthers of Pickford were out to an early 8-0 lead.
Storey’s six foot, 185 pound size and powerful running would prove to be a challenge for the Shamrocks much of the game.
Shamrock senior John Schneider would run for the ensuing kick off back to the Panther seven-yard line. Two plays later, senior running back Ned Smith would punch it into the endzone for the Shamrocks first score of the game. Junior QB Connor Cross connected with senior Tyler Coyne for the two-point conversion to tie the score at eight a piece with 1:29 remaining in the first quarter.
The Panthers would strike again in their very next possession when Storey connected with senior Nick Edington for a 25-yard TD pass. Pickford senior running back Stephen Lamothe would run the ball in for the two-point conversion, and with 9:23 remaining in the second quarter, Pickford would lead 16-8.
After the Shamrock drive stalled out on their own 42, Pickford would take over on downs. Pickford’s Storey would carry his team for much of the drive. He picked up two first downs on QB keeps, and topped the drive off with a one-yard TD run. Storey then connected with junior Micah Bailey for a two-point attempt and the Panthers would extend their lead to 24-8 with 5:09 remaining in the second quarter.
The Shamrock offense struggled to put together a drive on their next possession and would punt the ball to Pickford.
The Panthers would start on their own 48, and again would ride heavily on Storey. After Storey ran for one first down, the Panther’s Lamothe would break free before being pushed out at the Shamrock 16. Storey would then cap the drive off with a two-yard TD run of his own. Senior Isaac Brown would punch in the two pointer and the Panthers would lead 32-8 with 1:15 remaining in the second.
The Shamrocks would threaten in their final possession of the half. Cross connected with Schneider for a long pass moving the Shamrocks to the Panther 22. St. Patrick’s would move the ball to the Pickford 13, but the pass from Cross to his intended receiver would fall incomplete in the end zone as time expired, and the Panthers would enter the halftime break with a 32-8 lead.
Pickford would receive the second half kickoff and start their possession at their own 31. The Panther offense would again grind on the Shamrock defense. The drive would be capped off with another TD run by Storey, this time a one-yard run. Storey connected with junior Luke Batho for the conversion, extending the Pickford lead to 40-8 with 8:44 remaining in the third.
The Shamrocks would start their possession at their own 30. Cross connected with senior Zach Spitzley for a first down at the 41, but the drive would stall out and the Shamrocks would be forced to punt.
The Panthers would start with excellent position at the Shamrock 42. A few plays later Pickford’s Batho would break free for big a 46-yard TD run. Brown would punch it on the conversion and the Panthers would lead 48-8 with 5:20 remaining in the third.
The Shamrock offense would reach the endzone one more time when Cross connected with Coyne on a 76-yard TD pass. Senior Jeff Davlin connected on the point after, and with seven seconds remaining in the game, Pickford lead would be cut to 48-15.
The Panthers would run out the remaining seconds and Pickford would capture the 8-Player Division 2 title with a final score of 48-15.
After the game, Shamrock coach Patrick Russman said, “I credit the kids. I credit their kids definitely. I credit our kids for fighting all the way through. That was two really good football teams on the field today.
To see more photos from the game, check out the photo album on The Portland Beacon Facebook page.