The last time Lansing Catholic and Pewamo-Westphalia's football teams had suited up, it was under the bright lights of Ford Field for last season's MHSAA Finals.
The reigning Division 5 and 7 runners-up, respectively, returned to the field Aug. 24 in a season opener at Holt Junior High, in what was another first-time experience for leaders on both sidelines.
It was the first time in a coaching career spanning four decades that Cougars coach Jim Ahern started anew after making it to the previous season's final game. Despite numerous near-misses while coaching at Ithaca, last season was his first trip to the title game.
Pewamo-Westphalia's Brad Weber has been leading the Pirates for only five seasons, but his school and community also had never made it to a season finale before last November.
Click to see what each had to say after Lansing Catholic opened with a 45-21 win.
Browntown Woodhaven hosted students and families from 14 Downriver-area schools for a "Victory Day" on Sept. 23.