photo by Ryan Kerwin, JTV Sports
By Mike Moore
Jackson — The what ifs, the could-have-beens, the second guessing, after the fact.
Those are as much a part of sports as talk at the water cooler, fantasy lineups and home-team swag.
So, now nearly a week from the end of the Lumen Christi football team’s historic run to Detroit, and a Division 6 state title, the question begs to be asked.
What could have been?
What if the 1-2 start the Titans got off to was a small leak in a sinking season?
What could have been if two losses in three weeks snatched the spirit from a team that began the year with such high expectations?
How did he keep things together, and get out of such a low point?
Coach Herb Brogan was asked that slightly after celebrating with his team, and the D-6 trophy.
He offered a subtle smile.
“I don’t think we were ever very low,” he answered. “We were struggling. We were young.”
Lumen opened the year with a 30-13 loss against Grand Rapids West Catholic that Brogan referred to as embarrassing
Wets Catholic, it should be noted, finished the year 12-2 and won its fourth D-5 state in a row.
In Week 2, Lumen beat Hastings 41-14, but followed that with a 24-14 loss to Harper Creek.
A third of the way into the season, the Titans essentially had one mulligan to play with or an 18-year streak of trips to the postseason would be in huge jeopardy.
“We started the season with 13 seniors and half of them really didn’t see the field before,” Brogan recalled. “We were young, playing West Catholic, and Harper Creek. Good football teams. We embarrassed ourselves against West Catholic, but we played a really competitive game against Harper Creek.”
And at 1-2, with panic possibly setting in, Brogan remained confident, if not defiant.
“Coming out of that (third) game, I said to the coaches that, ‘I’m not down,’” Brogan said. ‘“We competed very hard against good football team. We’re going to get better.’”
He referred to the next two weeks as “critical,” and his guys played like it.
Lumen shutout Northwest 33-0 to go to 2-2, then, on the back of Bo Bell and his 40-some carries, survived a neutral-site game against Marshall, winning 28-20.
The confidence stared to build.
Then came the thrilling 21-20 victory over Coldwater, a 49-14 route of Western, a playoff-clinching 35-20 win against Pennfield, and then a home-field clinching 41-7 drubbing of Flint Beecher.
Brogan’s words of “we’re going to get better,” seemed more like prophecy than hope.
He also credited his guys with finding six wins in a row to close the regular season.
“The kids liked each other,” he said. “Not every team likes each other. … It’s difficult when you have a small senior group, and we have three sophomores starting and a freshman starting, and when you have that mix of young kids, you need a special group of seniors to make that gel. … They gave us the leadership we needed.”
It was on full display in the postseason too.
Whether it was roaring past an explosive offense like Watervliet 55-28 in the opener, or hanging on in overtime or playing smash-mouth football like the Titans did in the final at Ford Field in the 26-14 victory over Glen Lake.
Never low. Always confident.
From 1-2 and facing disaster, to 12-2 and holding a championship trophy.
What if? What could have been?
No need to worry.
Mike Moore is a play-by-play commentator and Sports Writer for JTV Sports. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s also the author of ‘Love, Defined; A Dedication to the Love, Sacrifice, and Magic of Motherhood.’
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