In the final seconds of Friday's key Big North Conference football game, Traverse City West's fate rested on the right foot of senior Will Conklin.
The kick was true giving the Titans a 31-28 victory over Gaylord and a share of the league lead with Traverse City Central.
"There was no doubt in my mind," said West junior halfback Jon Flynn, who had a coming-out party of his own with a 261-yard, three-touchdown rushing performance. "No doubt."
There shouldn't have been a doubt because Conklin's done it before. In fact, Conklin said his winning kick against the Blue Devils took him back to his first varsity game.
"It was scary," Conklin said. "It reminded me of Grand Haven my sophomore year. Score was tied 38-38 and I kicked the winning field goal with two seconds left."
While Conklin's field goal provided the final points, it was another one of his boots that was just as valuable, perhaps even more so.
After Gaylord failed to convert on a fourth-and-eight, TC West gained just a yard and had to punt the ball back to the Blue Devils. Oh yeah, and it was into a 30 mph gale.
Conklin drilled a perfect line drive punt, keeping it below the wind. Gaylord didn't have anyone back to field the punt and Conklin drilled it 49 yards to the Blue Devils' 8-yard line.
After almost winning the game with a safety, West got the ball back and moved into position for Conklin to not only win the game, but to also keep the Titans in control of their own destiny in the Big North and provide some much-appreciated wiggle room in the hunt for another playoff berth.
In addition to being a key league game, Friday's contest was a battle of styles: Gaylord's high-powered passing attack of quarterback Nick Freeman and TC West's power-running attack.
Freeman, whom I tried to claim as my Fantasy Football quarterback, ripped off 377 yards passing against a defense whose strength is in the secondary.
"Their throwing game, their receivers are all its billed," TC West coach Matt Prisk said. "And it's not like we have lousy defensive backs. They did a great job picking us apart."
In fact, if the Blue Devils would have been able to convert the late fourth-down try, the final outcome could have been different.
"If we would have converted on fourth-and-8 I think we would have won the game," Gaylord coach Will Cleaver said.
But the Devils didn't and TC West was able to put the outcome on Conklin's foot and once again he delivered to put an end to an entertaining high school game.
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