MHSAA FOOTBALL PLAYOFFS: Falcons rally to claim district title over rival Seaholm
BIRMINGHAM -- Groves varsity football coach Brendan Flaherty knew emotions would be at an all-time high heading into Friday's road playoff game against rival Seaholm.
The Falcons, who rallied to score four unanswered touchdowns en route to a 26-12 win over the Maples to capture the district crown, found themselves on the field against their BPS counterpart for another emotional battle for the second time in three weeks.
"It's gut-wrenching. I have so much respect for them and what they do," Flaherty noted of the Seaholm rivalry games. "It's a slugfest! The emotional toll to what we do and to get it done, and do that thing is really, really hard."
Groves (8-3) battled back from a 12-0 deficit to carry a slim edge into the break courtesy of a pair of late second-quarter scores. Josh Woods rumbled in from four yards away to cap an impressive 64-yard drive and quarterback Cayden Hardy found Jailin Samuel streaking across the field for an 18-yard touchdown right before halftime.
Woods would locate the end zone for a second time, racing 80 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage to make it 19-12 at the 11:45 mark in the third. Braden Hall and Chris Little each registered takeaways in the quarter to help create extra offensive possessions for Groves, but those defensive efforts ultimately failed to translate into points.
It was Seaholm's second red-zone turnover that opened the door to allow the Falcons to punch their ticket for the next round of the MHSAA playoffs as Elias Kendra sprinted 92 yards untouched two plays later for the game's final touchdown.
"At the end of the day, it's the kids," Flaherty said. "The kids did it. They never lost confidence or belief in themselves, so really the credit goes to them."
Next Game: Groves (8-3) vs. Livonia Franklin (10-1)