Division 3 Final: Eaglets Fly Again

November 29, 2011

Five times since its most recent MHSAA football championship, Orchard Lake St. Mary returned to the championship game – and lost.

Saturday night there was no stopping the Eaglets – or their running attack – at the Division 3 Final at Ford Field.

St. Mary rushed for 478 yards – and after near-misses the last two seasons won its first championship since 2000 with a 45-7 win over top-ranked Mount Pleasant.

"I knew what it felt like to lose, so it gave me the fire and other teammates the fire to win,” St. Mary senior running back Spencer McInnis said. “It’s unexplainable. It’s awesome. It’s something I’ve wanted since I was a kid. I always knew I was going to go to St. Mary’s. It’s just a great feeling.”

The Eaglets (12-2) had fallen by eight and three to East Grand Rapids in the last two Finals, and in a five-overtime classic in 2007. They entered the playoffs ranked No. 4 by The Associated Press – but as champions of the Detroit Catholic League Central, which sent three teams to Ford Field this fall.

“It was great to win again,” said St. Mary coach George Porritt, who finished his 23rd season leading the program. “It’s a collective effort from these kids, and it’s been all year long.”

McInnis ran for 213 of the team’s 478 rushing yards, and took three of his 23 carries into the end zone. Junior brother Parker McInnis ran for 96 yards and a score, as did junior fullback Grant Niemiec. Senior James Ross added another running touchdown.

“We were in position to make some tackles, and it wasn’t a scheme thing or guys getting blocked. It’s just that their athletes made our guys miss, or we couldn’t tackle them,” Mount Pleasant coach Jason McIntyre said. “I’ve never seen backs that we couldn’t tackle one on one or two on one. A lot of teams will have one great back, and you can focus and rally there. But they had three and four.”

The Oilers’ usually-strong running game finished with just 122 yards, led by senior quarterback Ryan Elliott’s 40. He also had Mount Pleasant’s lone score. It was the team’s first Finals appearance – and only loss this fall as it finished 13-1.

Junior defensive back Cory Williams led the Oilers with nine tackles. Senior lineman Dylan Zerki led the Eaglets with 11, and Ross had 10.

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MHSAA, MHSFCA to Provide Spring Evaluation Camps for College Football Hopefuls

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

March 27, 2023

The Michigan High School Athletic Association, in partnership with the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA), will be hosting first-ever Spring Evaluation Camps to provide athletes with aspirations of playing college football opportunities to show their skills and abilities to college coaches at one of five locations.

The one-day camps will take place between May 15-18 at Jenison High School, DeWitt High School, Jackson High School, Brighton High School and Detroit Country Day High School. The MHSAA’s involvement will allow for the opportunity for Division I college coaches to attend, and representatives from college football programs at all levels are expected.

Athletes who will be juniors or seniors in Fall 2023 may register to participate via a link on the Football page.

“This is an attempt by the MHSAA to help our athletes get exposure during the spring evaluation period in a way that does not intrude on spring sports,” said Brad Bush, an MHSAA assistant director and past high school and college football coach. “We are working with the MHSFCA to help put together a first-class experience for the athletes and college coaches.”

Cost is $20 per player, and each registrant will receive a shirt to wear based on the athlete’s graduation year and registration number so college coaches in attendance can monitor their camp performance. College coaches also will receive registration information for each athlete in attendance.

All athletes must have a coach from the athlete’s school staff present at the camp, and that coach must be a member of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association.

MHSFCA executive director Andrew Pratley called the Spring Evaluation Camps a tremendous opportunity for high school athletes in Michigan.

“We are very excited with the partnership with the MHSAA that allows our kids the opportunity to wear a helmet and do drills in front of college coaches in the spring at a minimal cost,” Pratley said. “College coaches are thrilled, and it's a unique opportunity to have the rules waived by the MHSAA at these events only in order to showcase the tremendous talent all over the great state of Michigan.”

The Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) has been devoted to the promotion of high school football since its inception in March 1972. The MHSFCA has more than 2,500 members and provides several educational and development opportunities for members and their athletes, including an annual coaching clinic, an annual leadership conference for coaches and potential team captains, and the annual summer East-West All-Star Game for graduated seniors. Additionally, the MHSFCA’s Leadership Development Alliance is in its third year of training coaches and offering veteran members of the association as mentors.

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.