While the bruises of losing a football playoff game have yet to heal at Father Gabriel Richard the big picture of what the 2017 Fighting Irish accomplished on the field gets clearer every day.
FGR’s season came to an end last Friday night with a 20-3 loss at rainy and muddy Algonac.
After their first two quarterbacks went down and out with injury, the Fighting Irish were forced to turn to a sophomore who played the whole season on junior varsity. He was put in a tough spot – starting varsity, in a playoff game, on the road, against a good team, in bad weather.
It all added up to a rough night all the way around.
“We moved the ball but we just couldn’t finish in the red zone,” said FGR coach Brian Lewis. “It rained all game on a grass field and it was pretty messy in the middle of the field. It was playoff football weather in Michigan and weather can certainly play a factor.”
All three of Algonac’s touchdowns came on pass plays as the home team built a 20-3 halftime lead and held on during a scoreless second half.
Chris Hill still ran for more than 100 yards to lead the ground game.
“He ran the ball well, but when we got into the red zone they just focused on shutting him down and we struggled,” Lewis said. “It was a shrunk field and hard to get anything going down there.
“They hit a couple big pass plays on us and it was tough to overcome especially in those conditions. We just didn’t get it done.”
Which brings us back to the big picture where the Fighting Irish, led by Lewis and a strong senior class, clearly got it done.
“This was my first season as head coach and I couldn’t be more proud of the kids and the senior class,” Lewis said. “I talked to them a lot about legacy and what would their legacy be at the school and they did a really good job with what they are passing down to the underclassman as far as work ethic, dedication, commitment, togetherness.
“I’m so proud of how they stuck together even during adversity. They had the faith and belief in one another and it was cool to see because these are life lessons much bigger than football. And when you consider that, then it’s easy to call this a very successful season.”
Father Gabriel Richard won just three games last season after eight straight years of making the playoffs. They bounced back in 2017 in a big way with a statement right out of the gate by winning their opener 28-6 over Bridgeport, a team that went on to make the postseason.
The Fighting Irish then won their next five in convincing fashion, including a 28-15 win over Detroit Loyola, a team that had beaten FGR five straight games.
In a big matchup at Dearborn Divine Child in week seven, the Irish lost a heart breaker 14-13 along with their starting quarterback for the rest of the season.
But the team showed its inner strength by bouncing back the next week with an impressive 16-14 win over Detroit Jesuit.
FGR finished with a 34-20 loss to DC in the Prep Bowl, which was much closer than the final score, and the loss to Algonac in the playoffs.