Three Tri-Valley Conference teams went into Saturday with hopes and dreams of playing for it all the weekend after Thanksgiving … but sometimes, things don’t go as you planned. Frankenmuth, Millington and Michigan Lutheran Seminary all found themselves behind from the beginning stages of each of their Semi-Final games. In each of the games, all three teams fought back, Frankenmuth even held the lead over Menominee in the fourth quarter of their Division 5 Semi but Menominee would respond and score the eventual game winner with 9:28 left in the fourth quarter, 23-20.. Millington’s defense kept them in the game all the way until the fourth quarter. The 27-7 score was hardly evident of how the game actually transpired on the field. Millington had a good drive stall in Lumen Christi territory when they gambled with a trick play but the half-back option turned into a drive and half ending Interception. Another drive that reached the Titan 37 deep into the third quarter stalled with a turnover on downs. Lumen Christi added 2 fourth quarter scores, one was a three yard drive as a result of punt the Cards failed to get off and the punter was tackled at his own 3 and the other score was when the Titans were just trying to run out the clock and Bo Bell broke off a 40 yard TD run to finish off the scoring. In MLS’s case, the Cards found themselves down 20 at the half but cut the lead down to 13 in the 2nd half. That was the only score of the third quarter. Whiteford then essentially drained the clock with 2 drives in the fourth quarter, adding an insurance score to make it final at 40-21.
D5 SEMI: Frankenmuth 20 – Menominee 23
Running Back Kris Roche finished with 126 rushing yards and a score. Jared Davis finished with 100 total yards and a passing TD to Grant Bronner. On defense, Davis finished with a game high 12 tackles and a fumble recovery. Nathaniel Lambeth had 11 tackles and a TFL. Roche finished with 11 tackles as well. The read the full game recap and box score from Hugh Bernreuter, click here.
D6 SEMI: Lumen Christi 27 – Millington 7
In a game where offense and points were a struggle to come by, Brady Payne and Jared Roehl combined for 119 rushing yards on 32 carries. QB Bryce Bearss had the Cards’ only score on a Quarterback keep. To read the full game recap along with box score from MLive click here. To view my gallery from Saturday’s game, click here to view it on Facebook.
D8 SEMI: MLS 21 – Whiteford 40
In blistering cold weather conditions, the Whiteford Bobcats started off red-hot and had enough cushion to withstand several strong Seminary comeback attempts. Casey Williams had a great game on the ground with 154 yards (2 TDs), to along with Caleb Heyn’s 94 rushing yards (1 TD) but it couldn’t make up for the powerful Bobcat rushing attack that racked up 525 yards. To read the full game recap and box score from Hugh Bernreuter, click here.
While the season may have ended for the Tri-Valley on Saturday afternoon, the journey hasn’t and either has my coverage for the 2016 season. Stay tuned this upcoming week for announcements of TVC players that will have earned All-State honors and in just a few short months, many of our great student-athletes will sign a letter of intent to continue their athletic journey.
Let’s take a look a quick glance at what teams from the TVC accomplished this year. First and foremost, we had 3 TVC teams make the the Semi-Finals for only the 2nd time in conference history. We had 5 double digit win seasons by teams; Frankenmuth, Ithaca, Millington, Michigan Lutheran Seminary and Freeland. Alma wasn’t far behind with 9 wins. We saw programs on the rise like Pinconning, who made the post-season for the first time in this decade. Shepherd missed the post-season but by the slimmest of numerical margins and provided the Central with some explosive fireworks on offense. Swan Valley and Garber continued with their winning ways and then you had teams like Birch Run and Caro who may have not been close to a post-season bid but started off on the wrong foot, things weren’t looking up but both teams continued to push through and were able to garner several wins on the year. Bridgeport has some of the best young talent in the conference and we look forward to see them make a step further next season. Hemlock started the season off 0-2 but collected themselves and made a big mid-season push to get to 5 wins and position themselves as a playoff team. I expect programs like Chesaning (New Coach), Standish (1st Year in TVC) St. Charles and North Branch to continue to improve next season, all of these teams were a lot more competitive than their records indicate. Valley Lutheran and Bullock Creek finished the season without a W in the left column but that should serve as plenty of inspiration to improve next year, motivation to prove people wrong. As for St. Louis and Ovid-Elsie, both programs showed flashes of brilliance this year but perhaps may have been the most snake-bitten teams in terms of the ball not bouncing their way. Both teams were several drives away from from 1 or 2 more wins. LakeVille played their last year in the TVC and I wish them well in their new venture!
Looking Ahead To 2017
The future of the conference is in great hands, especially with those traditional programs at the top. In the Central, Freeland has proven, the program can withstand graduation and continue to mold players into their system and be successful, the last 10 and especially 5 years have proven that. 2-Way All-Conference starter, Garhet Metiva will return to lead the Falcons. Swan Valley has an extremely talented backfield coming back next year, with All-Conference RB Doug Boehler returning along with Quarterback Alex Fries and a slew of talented skill players that were underclassmen this season. Alma returns Sophomore QB Drew Humm, fellow Soph Brec Alward and Junior Brandon Huff in the backfield.
Returning in the East, Frankenmuth, Millington and Garber all take (graduation) hits to extremely valuable players during the great run. However, all three of these programs have proven, just like those in the Central, that it’s more about the program than it is the individual alone. Muth will return a strong core in the backfield with JRs Ryan Khan and Zach Jacobs. Millington will return All-Conference QB Bryce Bearss and one of his favorite all-purpose targets, Kohlton Sherman. Briar Bearss and Dakota Morgan should lead the way for returnees on defense. Garber will be without prolific passer Logan Sella, Jake Sansburn and Miles McFarland when the 2017 season kicks off but the multi-talented Ben Vansumeren returns the Dukes’ weaponry.
In the West, for MLS, you simply cannot replace guys like Casey Williams who is a unique talent and brought so much to every aspect of the game, gone also is Caleb Heyn and Mark Burger amongst others. However, they Cards are loaded with underclassmen, including starting QB Cade Kestner and many more. The experience of reaching the Semis and the result should provide for motivation and ‘chip’ on the shoulder for 2017. Pinconning and Hemlock will be without their starting QBs Jacob Rittenberg and Gabe Kanouse, both of whom were part of the heart and soul of those teams but a talented class of underclassmen and a return to winning ways should help spark them from here on out. Then, you have Ithaca, if you thought the 2016 Region Final loss was potentially the end of the dynasty, just take a look at the roster. The Jackets will return All-Conference QB Joey Bentley, along with most of his favorite weapons, including but not limited to Zach Hessbrook, Trey Chapin, Seth Davis, Devin Barnes, Jacob Allen and talented Frosh Running Back, Brayden Shaw. Add into that mix, one of the most promising kickers we’ve seen in the area in quite some time in Adam Culp. The lines on both sides of the ball will take some hits but another regular season of plenty of reserve guys seeing minutes will prove to be valuable next year.
Essentially, expect more of the same next year from the Tri-Valley, as the conference went from a player on the regional seen to a highly recognized conference statewide in the past decade. For the guys that played their last game on Saturday and even for those that will move on to the next level but put on a jersey with the name of their city on it for the last time, I feel for you. For at least 10 years after I graduated, I still thought on a daily basis, even dreamt about what I could have done better in games, practice, even in unit breakdown drills. A lot of things changed my perspective over the past few years and since then, mainly a small conversation I had with an old position coach when I re-visited my high school a few years back. I told him how I had regrets about not giving more. He turned to me and said, “Matt, trust me, all of us (coaches) here, we all have that feeling, it’s normal.” I now realize that, since I can’t go back in time, it’s what I do after that makes all of the difference. I wouldn’t change a thing because everything has gotten me to where I am now, those experiences, those memories. When it comes down to it all, the memories of just going out there and playing and being able to pass them along to my own kids as learning experiences and things I enjoyed in life are what matter most. ‘All Good Things’ …. come to an end but just that chapter in the book, not the entire story. What comes after that and after that are the next challenges in life that will provide new memories to look back on and last forever.