Tigers move on to round two

November 3, 2010 —

By Bill Mullaly

The Hudson Tiger varsity football team is moving on in the MHSAA playoffs. The Tigers won a business like usual game last Friday at Thompson Field. Hudson bested Reading 27-0 for its second straight district win over the Rangers. Last year it was 40-0 in the district final over an unbeaten Reading squad. This time it was a bit more difficult as Reading came to play, especially on defense. Hudson controlled the game and the outcome was never in doubt but the Rangers hung tough and could not put the pesky Rangers away until the fourth quarter. “This was a good win for our team,” said Tiger head coach Chris Luma. “We had a very good defensive effort from our kids. We ran the ball very well on offense and we escaped without injury. This was a good team we beat and they came to play. It helps being at home and the kids feed off the energy and excitement of the crowd. The games will only get bigger from here on out each week.”

Big win highlights

Hudson won the division 7, region 3, district 2 semifinal contest by playing suffocating defense. Reading gained just 18 yards on 21 carries and added on 63 passing for a grand total of 81 yards of offense. “Danny’s D was so prepared and he just keeps getting the kids ready each week,” said Luma. “The time he spends studying film and preparing the players is the key to our success on defense.”

Reading had the ball for just 30 plays and had just three first downs and never came close to scoring. They didn’t gain their initial first down until just over a minute until halftime and that was only after a controversial pass completion. On a third and eight near midfield the Rangers threw a pass that was ruled incomplete but the referees discussed it and the incomplete call was overturned into a completion.

Reading was only able to add on two more first downs the rest of the game. “Our defense was outstanding and the kids can be proud of this effort,” said veteran defensive coordinator Danny Rogers. On example of the dominance of the Tiger defense was the play they made in the early stages of the second quarter ahead just 7-0. The Tigers coughed up the ball and lost it on a fumble at the Reading one-yard line. After three rushing plays the ball was at the two-yard line. Then Reading punted from its own end zone and the ball went to Camden McCaskey. He took the punt return back 35 yards breaking four tackles on his way to the touchdown. He also received a crushing block from Matthew Smith. The return was just part of a huge game for the tough senior gridiron player. He ran for 83 yards on just nine carries and he had an interception. Throw in four tackles on defense and it would be easy to call McCaskey the player-of-the-game. “Camden had a very nice game and he helped us in a lot of areas,” said Luma.

Hudson began the game by stopping the Rangers on a three-and-out forcing a punt. The offense went to work using 12 running plays to go 67 yards for the score. On fourth down and six Drew Milligan burst around the right end into the end zone for the touchdown. With 3:14 left in period one it was 7-0 Tigers as Milligan drilled the extra point. The drive took 6:02 off the clock and was pure Hudson football. The Rangers could not move the ball but the Tigers did using a nice 25-yard run by McCaskey down to the Ranger five-yard line. However, the Tigers fumbled the ball away and didn’t score but McCaskey made that a moot point with his score on the punt return with 8:42 to halftime. Milligan added the PAT for a 14-0 lead.

Hudson would tack on one more score just four minutes later when they went 60 yards on just four plays. The Tigers scored again when quarterback Jimmy Williams saw a wide open Burke Hart and he drilled it in and Hart hung on for the score. The 28-yard scoring pass made it 20-0 as the kick failed. The clock showed 4:42 to halftime. Then the Tiger defense went to work and Hart tipped a pass and Milligan intercepted. Hudson looked to score again but a perfectly placed Williams pass fell incomplete near the goal line with under a minute to halftime. Hudson did get down to the 13-yard line and a 30-yard Milligan field goal attempt at the buzzer was wide left ending the half at 20-0.

In the third quarter the Tigers went down to the Ranger 15-yard line but turned the ball over on downs. Neither team scored in period three as Reading hung tough.

The Rangers, it was evident, were not going to score on this night against a relentless Tiger defense. Hudson did score one last time in the final period as they got a great run by fullback Dimitri Nealy with 10:08 to go in the game. Nealy burst free up the middle and nobody for the defense knew he had the ball until he was free in the secondary on his way to the end zone. His 34-yard touchdown gave Milligan a chance to tack on the PAT and he did for the final of 27-0. The Tigers got down to the Ranger five-yard line with less than three minutes left but some of the substitutes who had entered the game were denied by the Rangers. Hudson was finally stopped at the Ranger two-yard line.

Looking at the numbers

Hudson ran the ball 56 times for 344 yards and they added 53 yards through the air for a total of 397. Milligan ran 21 times for 140 yards, while McCaskey added his 83 yards and Nealy had 81 on 13 carries. Sandor Heistan finished with 10 yards on two tries and rookie Kameron Bellfy had nine yards on two carries. Williams hit three of six passes with Hart catching his for 28 yards, while Smith had a grab for 18 yards and McCaskey caught a pass for seven yards. The Reading quarterback was six of 12 passing with two interceptions coming from McCaskey and Milligan. He was not sacked but he did face continual pressure from an attacking Tiger defense.

The most telling stat was that Reading punted five times and Hudson none. Hudson had 19 first downs but did lose 16 yards on three penalties, while the Rangers had two flags for 14 yards. On defense the Tigers were led by Grant Benschoter with eight stops including several hard hits. Smith had seven tackles, as did Nathaniel Osborne and Hart. Devan Marry, Meiko McDaniel and McCaskey all added four tackles. Reading didn’t lose a fumble but did toss the two picks.

Reading ends 7-3 and Hudson lives to play another day.

Up next

Petersburg-Summerfield will come to Hudson. They have not been here since the late 1950’s. In fact, the last time they played was in 1958 and Hudson won 70-0 over a winless Summerfield team. The Bulldogs left the LCAA after that season and have not been heard or seen from since. Yes, they will be here on Friday with lots of fans. Petersburg comes in 10-0 and they are the 2010 TCC champions. TCC means Tri County Conference. They went deep into the playoffs last year falling in the regional final to Ubly 42-20. Had they won they would have faced Hudson. This year they get the Tigers in the district final. Last year P-S beat Detroit-Loyola in the district final 28-22 to advance. Last week they faced Loyola in the first round and won by three points 25-22 in overtime.

Their reward for winning is they get to come to 10-0 an unbeaten Hudson ranked number one in the state in division 7. P-S in the final rankings was anywhere from number seven to number nine depending on the polls. Hudson is everyone’s number one on paper, which we all know means absolutely nothing.

This game will be a classic at Thompson Field with kickoff set for 7:00 on Friday night. The Dawgs’ can both pass and run the ball and Hudson had better be ready but it is certain Danny’s D will be out in full force. Look for a real nail biter with this game being decided late in the second half. In comparing scores it Morenci losing to Hudson 58-0 and Morenci lost to P-S 34-14. Don’t compare scores as they mean nothing. This game will be a battle of two titans of the gridiron and both are unbeaten. Prediction: Tigers pull out a win for its second straight district crown. Final score: Hudson 35, P-S 7.

*Corrections from last week: Hudson has been in the playoffs now 15 years not 14 as I wrote last week. The years were (1975, 1982, 1985, 1993, 1998-2004, 2007-present.) Also, we beat Reading 66-7 in 2004 not 2005 as I wrote last week.