TRAVERSE CITY —
First, the playoffs.
Next up, home for the playoffs.
Traverse City Central locked up a playoff berth for the first time this early in the season, sewing it up in Week 7 with a 9-7 victory Saturday afternoon over Detroit Jesuit.
"It's the biggest thing we can hope for," said senior right guard Ken Merica, who was one of many Trojan players to exit the locker room with tear-filled eyes. "We're in the playoffs now after seven games, and if we go 8-1, we have a very high possibility of getting a home playoff game. It's big because this isn't the last game our seniors will play here, hopefully.
"It was just an emotional time for all of us, because Central has never been in the playoffs after seven games. Coach told us we have to win our one-on-one battles and I think every one of us went out there and did."
With two road games on tap, the Trojans likely need to win both — at Gaylord next Friday and at Cadillac to close out the regular season — in order for its seniors to play another game on the Thirlby Field turf in black and gold.
"It's historical," senior linebacker Nick Bonaccini said. "We're 6-1 and it's the first Trojan team to go to the playoffs after seven games."
Jesuit won 45-29 last year, and the last time Central defeated the Cubs was in 2004 — also in a low-scoring, defensive battle that ended 10-7.
"I told the kids it's been six long years of frustration and struggles and a lot of good moments," Central coach Tom Passinault said, "but for this program to be in the playoffs after seven games is a testament to the coaches and players — present and past — who persevered over some tough losses. These are the games we would have lost in the past. To hold onto the ball for seven minutes at the end and not let them get it back says a lot about our kids and also the advantage of having a good running quarterback. T.J. (Schepperly) knocked out some first downs that we would have punted in most situations."
The only touchdown Central would end up needing came in the late first quarter, as Joe Schepperly ran between Merica and center Joe Corcoran for a 5-yard stroll into the end zone and a 6-0 lead with 56 ticks left in the stanza.
"One of the (Detroit) papers said we were 1-9 against Detroit teams the last 10 times we've played them," senior defensive back Weston deTar said. "We took that to heart, because we felt it was a dis towards our team."
Central's defense keyed in on Jesuit's run game and held the Cubs to just 115 yards of total offense. Jesuit had 10 possessions and punted on the first four and had two turnovers on downs. The Cubs' first four drives resulted in a net loss of 17 yards.
The Trojans — who had 187 yards of total offense — also forced two other turnovers.
"We can attribute that to our defensive ends closing it to the middle and the front three for pounding them down and our linebackers filling the holes they were supposed to," Merica said.
The second half was different than the first, which saw Central have seven drives and Jesuit eight. The Trojans controlled the clock with grinding run plays and shortened the game with a pair of clock-running drives. From 6:20 in the third quarter on, Jesuit had the ball only once, ending with a Kelechi Duru 1-yard touchdown run after a 10-play drive with 6:42 to go.
The Trojans ground out a 13-play drive that ended in Jake Gorter's 27-yard field goal as the clock expired in the third quarter, and ate up the final 6:42 on the clock with a 14-play drive that was extended by a roughing the passer penalty that negated a Cubs interception.
"Jesuit is the kind of team that gives us trouble," Passinault said. "They're athletic enough that they can man up on the outside and load the box up. That gave us a lot of trouble.
"I think we wore them down. We don't quite have the receivers to run past their speed people, so we knew it would be a grind it out game. We had kind of a hangover from last week mentally. Just to knock that win out was huge."
The victory didn't come without cost.
Central did lose two key players to injury in the game. Starting tailback Ethan Campbell broke a 23-yard run on the Trojans' second play from scrimmage and limped off the field with a right ankle injury and didn't return. And linebacker Josiah Lopez-Wild — who led the Trojans in tackles along with Bonaccini — went down with a head injury after drilling Cubs quarterback D'Andre Gard for a 5-yard loss.
"We have to see what we have on Monday," Passinault said. "We'll see who is healthy. We need Nate Pupel back and get him to full strength. He's probably 75 percent right now."
Pupel — who is just returning from an injury of his own — played linebacker in place of Lopez-Wild after the injury.
"Our defense played awesome and the offense put some points on the board," Bonaccini said. "Week in and week out, we've been playing really good. I'm proud of the guys. The offensive line did great to open some holes and people stepped up when Campbell got hurt."
Trojans aim for home playoff game after Jesuit win
TRAVERSE CITY —
First, the playoffs.
Down 3-0 after one inning, Schaumburg rallied for a 5-3 Frontier League win over Traverse City on Thursday night.Continued ...
Local Golf: 08/01/2014
Glen Bridgeman had a hole-in-one at Elmbrook. (Plus more)Continued ...
TC's Scott reaches semifinals in Junior Am
Alex Scott raised his profile this week in the Michigan Junior Amateur at the Battle Creek Country Club. The 17-year-old Traverse City West senior reached the semifinals before falling to eventual champion and Oakland University recruit Jake Kneen 3 and 2.Continued ...
Tournament of Champions Standings: 07/31/2014
Tournament of Champions standings:Continued ...
Sports in Brief: 07/31/2014
Tour de TARTset for Friday; Practice underway for the Blues; Boyne Golf to sponsor Garber. (Plus more)Continued ...
Boomers outslug Bums
The Traverse City Beach Bums came alive offensively Wednesday night at Wuerfel Park.Continued ...
Ruthkoski repeats at Boyne
Andy Ruthkoski carried a five-shot lead into the closing round of the Tournament of Champions at Boyne Mountain Resort on Wednesday. Turns out, he needed that cushion.Continued ...
- Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Beach Bums cleared of withholding fundraiser money
Authorities cleared the Traverse City Beach Bums baseball organization of allegations that the team illegally failed to distribute fundraiser money meant to be donated to the Grand Traverse Area Veterans Coalition.Continued ...
Ruthkoski leads by five strokes at TofC
Andy Ruthkoski plans to keep playing the Alpine Course at Boyne Mountain Resort exactly the same way he has played it to this point in the 23rd Tournament of Champions.Continued ...
Bums slump continues
There’s never a good time to endure an offensive slump. The worst time is when a pitcher is doing everything he needs to do to keep a team in a game.Continued ...
Sports in Brief: Renowned instructor holding clinic at Resort
Grand Traverse Resort and Spa is offering a special tennis clinic with internationally renowned tennis player and instructor Emilio Sánchez Vicario, founder of the Sánchez-Casal Academy in Barcelona, Spain, the top-ranked tennis academy in Europe. (Plus more)Continued ...
Tournament of Champions Standings: 07/30/2014
Tournament of Champions scores:Continued ...
- Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Beach Bums salvage split
Traverse City got a split of a doubleheader against Joliet on Monday at Wuerfel Park, and with the way things have been going lately for the Beach Bums they will take it.Continued ...
Ruthkoski surges to early lead at T of C
Andy Ruthkoski set a torrid pace to begin his quest to repeat as the champion of the Tournament of Champions on Monday.Continued ...
Tour of Champions Scores: 07/29/2014
Tour of Champions scores:Continued ...
- Monday, July 28, 2014
Sports in Brief: TC swimmer wins state championship
Traverse City swimmer Julia Brunner won the state title in the 100-meter butterfly at the Michigan 14 and Under Long Course State Championships in Ypsilanti this weekend. (Plus more)Continued ...
Beach Bums postponed, twinbill tonight
Sunday’s scheduled game at Wuerfel Park between Traverse City and Joliet was postponed due to the threat of storms throughout the evening.Continued ...
Chris Dobrowolski: Welcome to football season
As of today, summer is officially on notice. It’s days are numbered. You hate to wish the warmth and beauty of summer away, but with the Detroit Lions beginning training camp today it’s hard not to start thinking fall is bearing down on us in a hurry.Continued ...
TC East reaches state quarterfinal
The Traverse City East 9-10 year old Little League tournament team advanced to the state quarterfinals after posting a 10-6 win over Escanaba on Sunday.Continued ...
2014 Au Sable River Canoe Marathon results
Au Sable River Canoe Marathon Results Andrew Triebold Steve Lajoie 14:36:18 Nick Walton Christophe Proulx 14:44:24 Ivan English* Mike Vincent 14:48:18 Mathieu St. Pierre Ryan Halstead 14:52:16 Tim Sheldon TadContinued ...
2014 Junior Baseball Final Standings
Local baseballAmerican Legion Post 35 Junior Baseball Final StandingsDouble AA League W L TStar Truck Rentals 10 1 0Thermo King of Michigan 6 5 0Traverse City Beach Bums 6 5 0Arista Truck Systems 4 4 2Paradise Remodling 5 6 0Image 360 4 6 0Sonny’s BoContinued ...
Northern Michigan Junior Open Championship results
Northern Michigan Junior Open at Traverse City Central High School Championship results Boys 18 and under — Ryan Fattal, Saginaw over Matt Reay, Seattle 6-3, 6-0 16 and under — Connor Genschaw, Grand Rapids over Parker Berden, Traverse City 6Continued ...
- Sunday, July 27, 2014
Quinn returns to TC, brings Heat program to Cherry Bomb
Tony Quinn’s two worlds are colliding at this weekend’s Cherry Bomb lacrosse tournament.Continued ...
Bums blanked, swept
The Beach Bums bats went quiet and Schaumburg completed its three-game sweep over Traverse City with a 4-0 victory on Saturday.Continued ...
Boyne set to host Tournament of Champions
Andy Ruthkoski, the 2013 champion of the Tournament of Champions, said playing in the unique tournament at Boyne Mountain Resort is a highlight of his competitive schedule.Continued ...
- Bums lose