November 10, 2010 —
By Bill Mullaly
The Hudson Tiger win over Petersburg-Summerfield on Friday night had Tiger fans thinking it was 2004 all over again. It was back six years ago that we had a superstar running back (actually two) who helped the Tigers dominate a TCC (Tri-County Conference) foe in a district final game by a score of 42-0. Back then it was unbeaten (10-0) Sand Creek falling 42-0 as Hudson was led by Anthony Carr and Scott Rupnow. Last Friday night it was unbeaten (10-0) Summerfield, instead of Sand Creek, and it was Drew Milligan and Camden McCaskey leading the way to a district title game. Both wins were shutout against TCC foes who came to Thompson Field actually thinking they could win. Now, like six years ago, we have a rematch in the regional final. Back then it was a Detroit dePorres coming to town for its second ever battle with the Tigers and now it will be Mendon looking for a regional crown in its second ever meeting on the gridiron with Hudson. It was not however, 2004, but it was the current unbeaten 11-0 team that left Thompson Field satisfied with the win but still wanting more. Just for the record that 2004 team was also unbeaten after 11 games. They lost the rematch to dePorres but this team won’t lose to Mendon.
“We have unfinished business from a year ago that we need to take care of,” said a confident Tiger head coach Chris Luma, moments after accepting the district title trophy from Tiger athletic director Jeremy Beal. “We want to get back to Ford Field and get done what we couldn’t do last year. However, we are pleased to win this district championship game. The boys have a goal and this was just the next step in achieving that goal. The win over a very good Summerfield team gives us a confidence boost.”
Summerfield came into the game full of offensive firepower but it was Danny’s D, best known as defensive coordinator Danny Rogers’ defense, that was the talk of the game. Summerfield had not seen a defense remotely close to what hit them in the mouth at Thompson Field on this night. It had been 52 years since a P-S team had played Hudson (that game was 70-0 Tigers) and it might be another half a century until they want to play us again after the shellacking they took on Friday night. Former Bulldog (Morenci that is) head coach Tom Saylor had been the lone coach this fall to have gone against both teams and he gave a warning of what was coming when he had told me earlier this fall. “Hudson beat us by 58 points and we had Summerfield tied at one time before losing by 20 points so do the math,” Saylor had said.
Well, Hudson did its simple math and instead of winning by 38 points they tacked on four more on this cold, windy and snow-flurried night to win big against another over-matched team. P-S came into the game with all the hype with a quarterback with more touchdown passes then the Tiger signal callers combined had completions. The Bulldogs had a halfback who led the TCC in scoring and they had a receiver who had more catches than the entire Tiger receiving corps. However, there is an old saying about statistics, that being, they mean nothing once the hitting starts and the whistles start blowing.
Tigers start quick, end suspense early
After taking the ball at the 15-yard line the Tigers used a nice 46-yard jaunt by standout halfback Milligan to get into Bulldog territory. This run came on just the second play of the game. Hudson would need several more plays to score as they covered the 85 yards in just over five minutes to get on the scoreboard first. Milligan capped off the long scoring drive as he darted five yards into the end zone. He accounted for 68 yards on the game-opening drive that quickly sent a message to P-S welcoming them to Thompson Field. The Milligan point after touchdown kick was dead center and the Tigers had all the points they would need with Danny’s suffocating D doing the rest.
Summerfield soon had to punt it away and it didn’t take long for Hudson to score again as Milligan had 29 yards on this drive and the final 15 yards for the score on another one of his quick scampers through the defense. His kick made it 14-0 still in period one and Hudson was on its way to the district crown. This was the sixth district title for Hudson since they started giving these out in 1999 when the playoffs expanded. The others were (2000, 01, 03, 04 and 09).
Then it was more of the same as the Tiger defense forced yet another three plays and punt and the offense went to work once again. A run of five yards by McCaskey ended the first quarter of play. Then Milligan went 15 yards on the opening play of the second stanza. Then a few plays later the Tigers scored when Milligan skirted off tackle six yards into the end zone for the six-pointer his third of the game. The point after was true blue making it 21-0 early in the second. Yet another Bulldog punt set the Tigers up for more scoring. This time senior fullback Dimitri Nealy found some good yardage inside the tackles as he helped Milligan get the ball down into the red zone again. Hudson was knocking on the door and scored when Tiger quarterback Sandor Heistan used a keeper to go seven yards to pay dirt for the score. The scoring drive used up eight plays and took just over four minutes. Then, you guessed it, Summerfield had to punt again as Danny’s relentless defense did the job.
Milligan and Nealy combined for 53 yards on just four rushing carries as the offensive line was feasting on the Bulldog defense. McCaskey had four runs for 18 yards including the final run of five yards for the touchdown just before halftime for a 35-0 lead. The line of center Meiko McDaniel, guards Jordan Lake and Cody Walden along with tackles Devan Marry and Zach Rieger dominated the trenches allowing Hudson to control the scoreboard. Ends Matthew Smith, Ricky Beach and Burke Hart also contributed along the offensive line. “Drew had a nice night running the ball as he found the seams in the defense,” said Luma about his star halfback. “However, Drew will be the first to tell you the lineman do the work and he just runs the ball. Our offensive line has been very good all season long.”
Milligan ran for 206 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries and he tacked on his fourth rushing score for good measure late in the game. In the fourth quarter about mid-way through he found the end zone for the final tally in the 42-0 mercy rule rout. The continual running clock was put in use the entire second half and with the cold weather the fans were pleased to head home a bit early on this night.
“I have said it all year and I will continue to say that our defense is the strength of this team and you saw what they did against a high-scoring Summerfield team,” said Luma. “You have to give the credit to Danny Rogers and his defense as they played a great game.”
Hudson allowed the Bulldogs just 29 yards of total offense with 37 passing and minus eight rushing. This was the squad’s second straight playoff shutout after blanking Reading 27-0 in the district semifinal game. Playing on that Tiger defense are as follows: Smith, McDaniel, Lake, Rieger, Grant Benschoter, Nathaniel Osborne, Joel Varney, Hart, McCaskey, Milligan, Beach and Alex Leathers to name the key components.
Hornets back for revenge
I don’t have time to get into all the little tidbits of information about Mendon but they are coming to town for the most-anticipated sequel in Hudson football history. The Hornets (players, coaches and fans) want a piece of Hudson so bad and that they can just taste a state championship, if they somehow can escape Hudson a winner. It won’t happen but this is going to be a whale of a game. Mendon has never gotten over the devastating 42-41 double overtime loss last November 13th here in Hudson. They blew a 28-14 fourth quarter lead and let Hudson win the division 7 regional crown. There are people in Mendon who have been counting the days since last November. They will tell you the team has been sand-bagging all season long to give the Tiger loyalists a secure feeling that Mendon is down this year. Don’t buy into that non-sense. Mendon is 10-1 but they are really unbeaten. What you say? Well, they can’t find teams in Michigan to play them they are so good so they had to journey down into the deep South (to Edgerton, Ohio,) just to find an opponent and they lost. We all know games south of the border don’t count unless you win them so really in all reality Mendon is unbeaten. Heck, they are so feared in southern Michigan that they had to drive six hours into the Great White North to play a team in Wisconsin. They won that game despite the bitter cold and the refs being against them.
Don’t miss this game as it will be another classic kind of like a Rocky II. This game is too close to call just like last year. Yeah, yeah I know that Mendon barely won last week trailing 26-14 at halftime but they turned it on when they wanted and won going away 35-26. Don’t think for one second that this game won’t be close because it will. Do you know Mendon has practically never ever played a home playoff game on Friday night as they always play at home on Saturday but what did they do last week? They played on Friday night at home. Why, because they are taking every possible measure to prepare to beat Hudson. I am telling you Hudson people now this team (Mendon) and town (Mendonians) will do anything to beat Hudson. I can tell you Hudson would never play a playoff game on Saturday (yes, they did in 2002) and we lost because of the bad karma it created. Mendon is going to great lengths to get a win. Fear the sting of the Hornets but the Tigers will swat them away to win the first back-to-back regional and district crowns in school history! Prediction: This game is so much of a toss-up that the guys in Vegas won’t touch it but I will as it is my job! Hudson 23, Mendon 21. Go Tigers!