With Opponent Forfeit, Centerville Football ‘Leap For Joy’ As It Advances To State Championship
In a season fraught with obstacles and sacrifice, the Centerville football team had another reason to celebrate as they found out on Thursday that they were automatically heading for the Division 8 state championship game. .
Centerville was due to travel to Brighton to face Clarkston Everest Collegiate in the semi-final on Friday night, but Everest was forced to forfeit due to positive coronavirus tests within his team. As a result, Centerville heads to the state championship game scheduled for January 22 at 10:00 a.m. at Ford Field in Detroit.
When Centerville coach Jerry Schultz broke the news to his players, the reaction was not surprising.
“They were jumping for joy,” Schultz said. “With everything that’s been going on this season – with little injuries and closures and everything going on and all the hard work they’ve done as a freshman and so far – they see that everything has paid.”
Centerville has won just three playoff games in its history heading this season, but had a dream run in the playoffs, winning the program’s first district and region titles along the way. The forfeit win brings Centerville’s record to 10-0, a single-season winning record for the program.
“We’ve never really experienced successful football here,” Schultz said. “We have never won a district so far and obviously never a regional. Having the opportunity to go to a state championship is something our community is really excited about. “
Schultz feels bad that Everest doesn’t have the chance to compete to end its season, but he doesn’t want to take away the excitement of his schedule.
“It’s a bummer,” Schultz said. “I think it certainly would have been a battle between two great teams, but I will never be disappointed to have the opportunity to go to a state championship. Our boys have worked really hard and we are trying to stay safe. Definitely happy to have the opportunity to play next week.
Throughout the season, there have been comments that this season deserves an asterisk as some teams have made the playoffs due to forfeits. Schultz strongly disagrees with this sentiment.
“I absolutely think it’s incorrect,” Schultz said. “We were lucky enough with everything, but we also had to make sacrifices. “
Despite having only 26 players, Schultz said the team were transported to the regional final in four buses to ensure players would be able to properly practice social distancing. He also said the team had not used the dressing rooms all season and players had to essentially dress in the parking lot.
“We don’t meet on Mondays anymore and Tuesday is more of a conditioning day to keep us separate and have fewer contact days. So I absolutely disagree with this comment (asterisk) as there are sacrifices we had to make and they could have affected us on the pitch, but they didn’t. We have made it this far. It’s a different season for sure, but I don’t agree with that.
Centerville will wait to see which team he faces in the State Championship game, which will be the winner of the Ubly (8-2) game to Johannesburg-Lewiston (10-0) on Saturday at 1 p.m. at Thirlby Field in Traverse. City.
“It’s like a dream come true,” Schultz said. “When I first took on this job in May, being my first head coach job… I fell in love with Centerville and couldn’t be more proud to be here. I can’t wait to pursue this dream.