**PREVIEW BY JOSH LONGSTRETH**
Here we are, the state semifinals. For four remaining teams, they have the opportunity to clinch a shot at the Division Championship next Saturday at Ford Field. These are moments that players have dreamed of from the day they put on their football pads. They now have a show to make that dream come true.
The Frankenmuth Eagles are one team that has been here in years past. Since 2016, the Eagles have made it to this point four times. Putting their name on the map, they played for the State Championship in 2020. They’re here again with another chance to get back to Ford Field. Frankenmuth has put together another historic season, and they may not be done yet.
The Eagles have cruised to a 12-0 record on the year. When they say cruise, they mean it. The offense is scoring 41.5 ppg on the season. The scary thing, they are just as good on the defensive side. Giving up just 5.3 ppg on defense, Frankenmuth has not let any offense eclipse the 20-point mark the entire year. The wins? The Eagles opened their season rolling over Goodrich whose season is still playing in Division 4. Although they were tested in week 5 at Freeland, the game was never in doubt for the Eagles, as they cruised to a 21-0 win against a great football team. They’ve become even more dominant in the playoffs outscoring opponents 133-13.
They are led by QB Aidan Hoard. Hoard has passed for 1,289 yards, 13 TD’s and just 5 INT’s. That’s not it. He’s compiled 610 rushing yards to go with 10 TD’s. Griffin Barker has been huge for the Eagles on the year. Barker has rushed for 768 yards and 13 TD’s. Then you have Sam Barger. Barger has been banged up a bit this season, but the senior has rushed for 599 yards and 10 TD’s. He gets it done through the air too helping with 3 receiving TD’s on the season. Hunter Bernthal and Zac Andrews have pitched in with 596 yards rushing and 9 TD’s combined. They have several mouths to feed, and they feed them. The receiving numbers aren’t glorified, but they have length and when they do throw the ball, it’s usually for big yardage.
The defense has been a nightmare for opposing offenses. Dalton DeBeau and Colin Main lead the team in tackles per game. Main leads the team in sacks with 9 on the year. The entire team has accounted for 46 sacks total on the year. When we said it was a nightmare, we weren’t lying. The secondary is aggressive and a lot to deal with. Travis Brenner provides length in coverage and leads the team with 3 INT’s on the year. Frankenmuth has grabbed 10 total INT’s as a team.
Stats and accolades are great and all but does this team have the look of a champion? The offense can beat you by ground or air. The Eagles offensive line dominates the line of scrimmage every night. The defense is relentless and it seems on every snap that they’re in the backfield creating chaos. They’re aggressive and they like it. Frankenmuth has come out with a sense of urgency each game. As we get closer to the finals, you can tell this team is hungry and they are taking full enjoyment in being unforgiving on opposing teams. They’re legit and they know they are. They just have one tall task to try and get past first.
If you’re a Michigan High School football fan and you don’t know Detroit Country Day, well, you might want to question your fandom. The Country Day Yellowjackets are known widely across the state of Michigan. It’s a program that has made it to this point four times since 2015, and they were able to secure a state championship in 2020. They’re back and they’re a force yet again in 2022.
Country Day comes into this one at 8-3 on the season, with their three losses coming to playoff teams, one of which is still playing in Traverse City St. Francis. They are outscoring playoff opponents 107-34. They come in playing their best football of the year, with their sights set on more.
The Yellowjackets are fast, and many teams don’t realize that until they take the field with them. That’s something that film will not show. QB Chase Dawkins can sling it. Last week, Dawkins was 9 of 13 passing for 98 yards and 2 TD’s. He added another 61 rushing yards and a TD. All of this, he did in the first half. Graham Doman is another guy that can get it done on the ground. In their win last week, he carried the ball 12 times for 99 yards.
The Country Day defense is always in tune with each other, and that can make it even harder for offenses to move the ball. They give teams different looks all game, and they bring pressure from all over the place. They are a defense that can get in the backfield time and time again. Their secondary is fast, smart, and aggressive.
Country Day is another team that could take this whole thing next Saturday. They are led by an extremely good defense at a time in the year where you need strong play on that side of the ball. The Yellowjackets are battle tested and that could be big against a Frankenmuth team that has dominated over opponents. It will be interesting to see who won’t back down if this game is tight late in the 4th quarter.
This one is expected to be an absolute battle. Can Country Day match the physicality of Frankenmuth? No team has been able to do that for four quarters this season against the Eagles. If the Eagles can continue to push teams around like they have, Frankenmuth will be playing for a state championship next Saturday. These two will clash at Lapeer High School this Saturday with a 1:00 start time.