For the second straight season, the Orchard Lake St. Mary's Eaglets are the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 3 State Champions. On Saturday at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, the Eaglets defeated the Chelsea Bulldogs, 29-12.
On Chelsea's first offensive drive, Josh Ross came up with a huge interception to set the tone early. Ross is a junior and will look to be back for next season. Last season, Ross led a defense that won 7-0 over Muskegon for the state title.
“Coming off last year, how good our defense was, we wanted to be better,” he said. “Ever since the beginning of the season, I’ve been looking forward to this day.”
The Eaglets got a 34-yard score from Brendan Tabone to K.J. Hamler to make it a 15-0 in favor of the Eaglets in the first quarter. Justin Myrick got the scoring started with a one-yard carry after Ross intercepted.
St. Mary's coach George Porritt acknowledged what a quality player Ross is.
“He’s a special player,” he said. “He’s a thumper, and he loves to play the game. He’s a tremendous leader.”
The Bulldogs, unlike the Eaglets, came into the game without any championship experience in school history. Meanwhile, Orchard Lake St. Mary's are veterans to the big stage.
“I’m proud of our guys,” Chelsea coach Brad Bush said. “That’s a great football team. Probably the best team in the state. I felt defensively, that’s the best team we’ve ever played against.
"We had our chances, we were right there with them. Our guys played their tails off.”
The chance came after quarterback Jack Bush found Cameron Cooper on a wheel route touchdown to make it a 10 point deficit for Chelsea with 5:04 left in the third quarter. Cole Septer recovered an onside kick to give the Bulldogs outstanding field position, just 27 yards out from the goal line.
Coach Bush called for a fake field goal, but the Orchard Lake defense stood tall and St. Mary's regained possession.
With 8:44 left in the game, Myrick put the nail in the coffin with a three-yard rushing touchdown to extend the St. Mary's lead to 29-12 over Chelsea.
“I’m just happy,” he said. “I fulfilled my high school dream twice. I’m just thankful.”
This marked the sixth appearance in the title game in seven years for St. Mary’s.
“Every year is a new year, and it feels great,” Porritt said.