Traverse City Record-Eagle

Prep Sports

October 28, 2013

St. Francis, West get into playoffs at 5-4

TRAVERSE CITY — Never mind that St. Francis is going to be making an eight-hour road trip to the Upper Peninsula this week.

Forget that the Gladiators are coming off a 42-0 loss to Muskegon Catholic Central on Friday night.

All is well for the Gladiators, who found out Sunday that they are back in the prep football playoffs.

After a one-year absence from the postseason — St. Francis's first year missing the playoffs in more than two decades — it is ready to return to postseason football when it faces undefeated Iron River West Iron County (9-0) in a Division 7 contest.

"Obviously, after last year not making it for the first time in 23 years, getting in is a big thing for us," said St. Francis head coach Greg Vaughan. "We'll see what we can do. We've played them in the past. They're always a tough team. Any time you go up against an Upper Peninsula team you know you're going to get tough-nosed kids; very strong kids. We're just excited we're in the playoffs."

St. Francis last played West Iron County in a 2008 regional game, which the Gladiators won 35-12 on the way to winning the Division 7 state title.

St. Francis (5-4) was one of 31 teams out of the field of 256 that made the playoffs despite not gaining automatic qualification by win total. Teams playing a nine-game schedule immediately qualify by winning six games and those with an eight-game schedule only need to win five.

One of the other 31 non-automatic qualifiers? Traverse City West (5-4), which will meet Rockford in a Division 1 first-round contest this weekend in Rockford. The Rams (8-1) have been a postseason thorn in the Titans' side, eliminating them in six of the last seven postseason appearances West has made, including a 38-7 win in 2012.

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