Shamrocks fall short in State Championship
On Saturday, January 16th, the 10-0 Portland St. Patrick Shamrocks traveled to the Legacy Center in Brighton for the 8 player State Championship game with the North Central Jets. The Shamrocks fought hard, and gave the Jets their greatest challenge in years, but eventually the Shamrocks suffered from too many injuries and could not stop the high powered Jet offense, losing the game 70-48.
In the first quarter, the Jets struck fast, and scored a touchdown and a safety on the Shamrocks leaving the score 10-0 in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, the Shamrocks responded with a 1 yard touchdown pass from Connor Cross to Seth Frawley. The scoring continued uninterrupted for the entire quarter, with the Jets responding every single time the Shamrocks scored. Jacobe Hayes Dunning had a 41 yard touchdown pass from Cross. Connor Cross had a 1 yard rushing touchdown as well. This left the score 34-22, with the Jets taking a 12 point halftime lead. Connor Cross suffered a separated left shoulder on defense in this quarter as well, which ended up thinning out the Shamrocks defensive ranks even further in the second half.
In the third quarter, Shane Cook caught an 11 yard touchdown pass to make the score 34-28. The Shamrocks stuffed the Jets on their first series, but then the Jets realized that they could just play power football and run over the Shamrocks who were missing all-state noseguard Chase Fitzsimmons, and all state linebacker Derec Fedewa, as well as having multiple players playing through injuries that were incurred in last weeks frozen tundra game against Kinde North Huron. The Jets punched in two more scores in the quarter, making the score 48-28 after three quarters.
North Central was completely unable to stop the Shamrocks in the fourth quarter, with St. Patrick going to a spread formation and making it look easy. The Shamrocks scored on passes to Shane Cook for 4 yards and 18 yards, and Seth Frawley for 32 yards, but ultimately the potent Jet offense just kept scoring as well, and the final score was a massive 70-48.
Offensive leaders for St. Patrick were quarterback Connor Cross, who was gifted with amazing highlight reel catches from his cadre of receivers, passed for a record 25 for 37 for 375 yards and 6 touchdowns. Shane Cook was his favorite target and looked like a man among boys, catching the ball 13 times for 180 yards and 3 touchdowns. Jacobe Hayes Dunnings had some amazing grabs as well, and finished with 6 catches for 88 yards and 1 touchdown. Seth Frawley burst on the scene with 3 catches for 68 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Defensively, Braxton Teachworth played at superhuman levels and had 19 tackles, 1 sack and 2 tackles for loss (TFL). Jacobe Hayes Dunning had 9 tackles and Brian Kwiecinski had 8 Tackles. Brice Cook had 8 tackles as well.
The Shamrocks managed to score 48 points on a team that had only allowed 60 points TOTAL in their first 10 games (even though they had put their second string in before halftime in 9 out of 10 games). The Shamrocks started out the season with only 16 young men, 5 of whom were freshmen. During the final game, they had lost 2 players completely, and 5 others were nursing injuries in various stages of severity. The grit, courage and fortitude that was displayed was nothing short of incredible and inspirational for all the the fans from both sides. The freshmen were asked to contribute and they showed no fear when tasked with playing at the highest level. Through it all, the Shamrocks showed grace and sportsmanship, and that sportsmanship was returned in full from the classy and excellent North Central team. This was one of the most powerful sporting events in local sports history for those who knew the true story of determination and work ethic from a small group of boys who became men on a football field.
Most of the fans and coaches did not feel like this was a loss, but a significant victory. I know people say that often, but this year it was quite astonishing. Playing against an exceptional team like North Central, and challenging them, was truly a masterpiece for the boys in green. Ultimately, the Shamrocks just did not have the numbers of athletes to overcome the significant physical advantages of the older and bigger Jets squad, but that did not stop them from leaving every single drop of sweat on the football field and earning the respect of every single person who watched the game. Head Coach Patrick Russman said "We are very proud of the efforts of the team, and their performance on the field. Quarterback Connor Cross and his receivers and lineman put on an amazing show to move the ball at will against an extremely capable North Central defense. It was a fun game to be a part of, we are really proud of the efforts by our men through this game and throughout this very long and challenging season. I am just thankful for our coaching staff, and the families at St. Patrick. This season took an incredible amount of work to pull off and we couldn't have done it without the amazing parents we have in this community. I would also like to thank the MHSAA for letting us finish, and the grounds crew from Portland Public School for treating us so well and helping with their great field work, and the volunteers who helped us clear our fields."
Photo by Lindsey Bos.