Howell football postseason hopes dashed in final game

James Edwards and James Edwards

football_620x350By Staff Writer: James Edwards

On Friday, October 25, the Howell Highlanders (5-4) took on Jackson Lumen Christi (9-0) in a game that had playoff implications for Howell. Over the past few years, the Howell- Lumen Christi series has been a tough battle for each side, with neither side really showing a clear separation from the other, but the Titans were rolling in on an unblemished record and riding on a superstar junior runningback. Through the bone-chilling cold, Howell fans, as well as the Lumen Christi faithful, still showed in respectful numbers. Not only was this the biggest game of the year for Howell, but Lumen Christi coach Herb Brogan, who has led his team to six state titles, was going for his 300th win as head coach of the program.

This game was close to being a blowout, as Lumen Christi kept padding its lead throughout the second and third quarters, but as quarterback Darren Ford says best, “We weren’t ready to finish the season on this bad of a game.” There was still a lot of fight left in Highlander team.

The game got off to a slow start, with the teams stuck in a stalemate with one another, each playing physical tough football until the Titans scored with about 3:30 left in the first quarter. This Lumen Christi lead would hold up for much of the rest of the game.

As the Titans kept building their lead, the score was 35-7 going into the fourth quarter, the atmosphere on the Howell sideline changed, the team became more determined. “We (seniors) just got mad. We weren’t going to go out like this, so we shook it off and started playing harder,” says Howell defensive lineman Kyle Scott. Howell proceeded to make an unbelievable comeback, given the way Lumen Christi played in the first half.

Lumen Christi runningback muffed a punt and Howell took advantage of just that, scoring on the third play after that, a four-yard carry by Ford. In the fourth, Jake Sanchez glided down the field for a 78-yard score on a screen pass from Ford to put the game at 35-21 in favor of the Titans.

Howell then recovered an onside kick and immediately thereafter, Ford threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Joe Olszewski to increase the tension in the crowd. With about 5:55 left in the fourth quarter, Ford ran 13 yards for a score to knot both the score and the stomachs of the Lumen Christi fans.

On their next possession, Howell went three-and-out and punted. Lumen Christi then moved the ball for 39 yards on a slick reverse play. How fitting it would be if Khari Willis would score on a nine-yard carry to cap off the win for the Titans. For the night, Willis rushed for 274 yards on 41 carries and three touchdowns.

The Highlanders just simply did not play fundamental football for the better part of the first three quarters. Fumbles, dropped catches, an interception, and missed tackles were the story for Howell. Take these out of the equation, the Highlanders could have won this game with no contest, but every team makes these mistakes, and they just happened to Howell at the worst time.

“Hopefully this game and this loss give these underclassmen a little fire and motivation next season so they can come out and play with a chip on their shoulder. I can’t say enough about how much fun we had this season,” says Ford.