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Michigan Center High School quarterback Joe Olkowski threw for more than 200 yards in the regional football final on Saturday.   Photo by Jeff Steers, JTV Sports.

By Jeff Steers
JTV Sports

(January 10, 2021 10:57 AM) COVID-19 stopped the football season three times for the Michigan Center High School football team.

On Saturday at Gull Lake High School, it may have ended the Cardinals’ season.

Playing without some key players because of positive COVID-19 tests and opt outs, Michigan Center lost 33-14 to Constantine in the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 6 regional final.

Michigan Center ended the season with a 6-2 record, winning the school’s first district title in football.

The Cardinals lost their opening game of the season, had two weeks off because of COVID-19 concerns, but rallied for six consecutive wins to earn the district football title.

Michigan Center surprised Grass Lake in their second game of the season and found its offense in the process. The Cardinals averaged nearly 40 points per game in the team’s six-game winning streak.

In the regional final, the Cardinals were outmanned against the vaunted running game of Constantine.

The Falcons scored twice in the first half for a 14-0 halftime lead on touchdown runs by Caden Hetzy and Brayden Clark.

Michigan Center had its chances in the first half following a 51-yard pass from quarterback Joe Olkowski to Mitchell Corwin. But the drive ended on Constantine’s 25-yard line.

Olkowski completed three consecutive passes for 31 yards on the Cardinals’ next drive, but it stalled on the 29-yard line.

Kaydin Hiland and Olkowski scored for the Cardinals in the second half.

Olkowski finished with 211 passing yards and one touchdown pass. Hiland accounted for nearly 100 yards from scrimmage with 54 rushing yards and 40 yards receiving.

Matt Brown caught four passes for 73 yards in the loss.

Defensively, Daylen Hinkle intercepted a pass for Michigan Center. 

Constantine finished the game with 469 rushing yards.

Jordan Burch (55) of Michigan Center High School makes a key tackle on a fake punt during the Cardinals’ Division 6 regional football final at Gull Lake High School on Saturday. Photo by Jeff Steers, JTV Sports.

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