Playing in the Prep Bowl against Dearborn Divine Child at Ford Field – instead of an easy opponent at home during the last week – may have cost Father Gabriel Richard a home game to open the Division 5 MHSAA state playoffs.
Instead, the Fighting Irish, whose only two losses on the season where against the talented Falcons, have to hit the road and play at Algonac in their playoff opener.
But don’t think the Fighting Irish are concerned at all about who they play or where they play – they will spend the next week focusing on how they play.
“We don’t know anything about them at this point,” said FGR coach Brian Lewis a few hours after learning the playoff schedule on Sunday night. “We thought we might be playing Frankenmuth based on a couple of mock brackets that we saw but that’s not how it worked out. So now it’s back to work for us.”
The game is tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. on Friday.
The winner of the Father Gabriel Richard at Algonac game will play next week against the winner of Ida (7-2) at Detroit Denby (6-2). If the Fighting Irish win and continue to move forward through the playoffs they could possibly even host a game depending on their opponent.
Father Gabriel Richard won its first six games of the season, including impressive wins over Detroit Loyola, Macomb Lutheran North and Bridgeport (playoff team). After falling to Divine Child 14-13 in week seven, the Fighting Irish knocked off Detroit Jesuit 16-14.
FGR played a strong game on Saturday at the Prep Bowl, falling to Divine Child 34-20.
“We’re a confident bunch right now,” Lewis said. “We are excited about getting into the playoffs. We also have played three pretty close and intense football games so we are used to playing good teams in big games so I like that we have that experience. We understand a big game and the flow and the ups and downs of a big game.”
The Irish have been led by a dominant defense that has allowed just 117 points this season. They also have a strong offense. Led by running back Chris Hill, the Fighting Irish have scored 302 points, scoring 28 or more points in each of their first six games.
Algonac comes into the postseason having won eight straight games after losing its opener 42-6 to Marine City, one of three teams on the Muskrats’ schedule to make the state playoffs. They finished the regular season with a 35-0 win over Southfield Bradford (2-7) – see reference to easy opponent at the end of the schedule.
Algonac will be making its third straight playoff appearance. After winning just one game in 2014, the Muskrats reached a regional final the following season before falling 51-25 to River Rouge. Last season, they reached the state semifinal game before losing 17-0 to Grand Rapids West Catholic.
For the Fighting Irish, it’s back to the playoffs. FGR reached the postseason every year starting in 2008 until missing out last season with a 3-6 record. It’s been an impressive turnaround, led by first-year head coach Lewis and a dedicated group of 17 seniors on the roster.
Here are other playoff matches of possible local interest:
R2-D2 Salem (5-4) 57.111 at Belleville (9-0) 109.333
R2-D2 Saline (7-1) 92.556 at Canton (8-1) 102.111
R2-D2 Livonia Franklin (7-2) 83.778 at Walled Lake Western (8-1) 101.000
R2-D2 Livonia Churchill (7-2) 87.444 at Pinckney (8-1) 90.556
R3-D1 Temperance Bedford (6-3) 68.972 at Wyandotte Roosevelt (9-0) 112.000
R3-D1 Brownstown Woodhaven (7-2) 82.556 at Ypsilanti Lincoln (7-2) 86.556
R2-D2 Tecumseh (5-4) 55.556 at East Lansing (7-2) 81.556
R2-D2 Parma Western (6-3) 59.750 at Haslett (7-2) 78.667
R3-D1 Detroit Cody (6-3) 56.958 at Dearborn Divine Child (8-1) 95.111
R3-D1 Redford Thurston (6-3) 62.222 at Romulus (6-3) 65.111
R4-D1 Milan (5-4) 52.444 at Chelsea (8-1) 90.444
R4-D1 Flat Rock (7-2) 76.111 at River Rouge (7-2) 76.889