Trojans stop defending D1 champion Morrice
CRYSTAL FALLS—When word of the forfeit of Forest Park’s Week 8 opponent, Stephenson, reached Trojans head coach Dave Graff on Tuesday of last week, he knew he had little time to seek a replacement opponent.
Not wanting to go a week without a game, Graff consulted the MHSSA website to see if there was another school looking for a contest. Graff found one that fit his criteria – one that would provide top competition and one which was geographically feasible.
That team turned out to be the Morrice Orioles. The hitch was that the Orioles are the defending 8-man Division 1 champion, have been ranked at the top of state’s polls all year and had crushed its opponents to the tune of 296-18 through seven weeks.
But, the Morrice coaching staff was in a similar predicament as Forest Park’s.
“That’s the reason why they wanted to play us and the reason why we wanted to play them,” Graff said. “In 8-man, you don’t have enough guys to practice and (this game) worked out.”
So the teams agreed to play at Pickford, a similar distance from Crystal Falls and for Morrice, which is located between Flint and Lansing. And after all was said and done on Oct. 19, the Trojans left the field a 22-14 victory, their biggest win to date.
“As a coach, you know that you have to play better competition,” Graff said. “You have to play better competition to play your best. As a coaching staff, we were hoping that we get a breakout performance and we got it.”
Forest Park (6-2) gained the upper hand on the Orioles quickly. On their first drive, the Trojans scored on a 35-yard run by Tommy Peltoma, and after the 2-point conversion, FP led 8-0.
On their second drive, the Trojans reached paydirt again as Peltoma took a direct snap and ran 27 yards for his second score of the quarter.
Down 16-0, Morrice responded with a 42-yard touchdown run (no Morrice names were reported) to cut the gap to 16-6.
From there, the game settled into a battle in the trenches.
“It was a defensive struggle,” Graff said. “It was all about field position. We really came to play on the defensive side of the ball against a very explosive offensive team.”