Just when it seemed two very balanced teams were headed for overtime. Just when it seemed one play was going to end it in dramatic fashion. “The Play” – which is sure to be etched in Sandusky football lore for years to come, happened.
“We saw Danny (Hale) was open on the previous play so we went with the same play again,” Sandusky Coach Craig Jacobson recounted of the game winning drive.
“Brandon (Potter) made a nice throw. Danny made a nice catch and run and we keep playing. It was a great high school football game for the two teams and for the fans on both sides to experience.”
Sandusky (11-0) won their first ever district football championship with a dramatic 7-0 win over GTC-West foe Cass City (8-3) in a game that saw both teams’ defenses play outstanding for four quarters. One play, The Play – was the only difference between the Redskins advancing to this week’s regional game at New Lothrop, or the Red Hawks advancing.
The winning score came on a fourth and four play. Many thought the Redskins might punt the ball away with just over a minute left to go in regulation and rely on their defense to hold Cass City. Coach Jacobson had other ideas.
“We almost had a punt blocked earlier. I didn’t want to have a Michigan-Michigan State thing happen (TD on punt). The coaches were all saying punt, but that’s why I am the head coach I guess,” he chuckled..
Potter dropped back in the pocket and found Hale open, just behind two Red Hawk defenders along the near sideline. Hale made sure of the catch and then set sail on a 57 yard race to the endzone with 0:53 showing on the clock. The breathtaking score, while seemingly shocking to most, set off a wild celebration on the Sandusky sidelines and in the stands at Woodard Field. Potter added the PAT kick.
Cass City had one last chance with just 0:40 to go in the game, taking control of the ball near mid field. On their first play, they made a backwards lateral that was dropped (fumbled) and recovered by the Redskins to secure the win.
Following the play, Redskin players jumped into each others arms, Coach Jacobson tossed his headset high in the air and was hugged by defensive coordinator Steve Blashill.
“That was a huge release of emotion,” Jacobson said of the headset toss. “We are so proud of these kids. They’ve worked their tails off since the loss to Lakers (Districts last year) and wanted this bad. We will continue to work hard and prepare and see where we go from here.”
There were other scoring chances for both sides Friday night, but thanks to strong defenses, or costly turnovers, neither team was able to punch it in. Redskin kicker Brandon Potter attempted a field goal late in the game but the kick sailed wide right. Sandusky moved the ball inside the Cass City ten on two separate drives and failed to score. Likewise, the Red Hawks came close to the goal line, only to turn the ball over on downs.
“This is great for the kids, great for the coaching staff and the community,” Jacobson said after meeting with his team at midfield. “We’re going to savor this one for a bit. It’s pretty emotional right now.”
With their first ever district trophy tucked away and the thrilling finish behind them, the Redskins prepare for their next challenge. New Lothrop comes in to the Regional game Friday night (7 p.m.) sporting an 11-0 mark and owners of six shutout wins this season. The Genesee Area Blue Division champs have had undefeated regular seasons since 2010 and have a solid defense that will be sure to test the ‘Skins potent offense that has rushed for over 3,200 yards.