FRANKFORT – With its third straight district championship in tow, Frankfort will embark on its longest road trip in years with a regional title in sight.
No stranger to success, Frankfort will face Iron River West Iron County for a Division 8 regional championship on Saturday.
A win this weekend would give the Panthers (8-2) their first regional title since 2009.
“We have an idea of what we want to accomplish at the beginning of the year and we fulfill that,” senior Kirk Myers said. “Frankfort football is huge to this community, it means so much to everybody. You go to every game and you see at the end of the game you see how many people are there, and it’s really amazing with how many people show up and how many people come and support you and every more that you make.”
“Just an exciting time for our kids and for our coaches, and for our fans,” added coach Matt Stapleton. “We’ve got the best community, so supportive.”
Frankfort journey across the Mackinac Bridge will see the Panthers travel seven hours and nearly 400 miles to the Central time zone.
“We’ve kind of taken the approach that we’re excited. You know, excited to have to be in a position to travel this far,” Stapleton said. “I’ll tell you what, when you’re playing for a regional championship, you know, you’ll do anything to get yourself there, you’ll do anything to get yourself in a mode to play.”
“We’re hoping it’s not going to affect us very much,” added Myers. “We’ve played on the road a lot this year, so we’ve been pretty used to it especially with this group of guys. So I think it will be fun, it will be a good experience and it’ll be a lot of fun.”
The Panthers rolled past Newberry (48-6) and previously undefeated Gaylord St. Mary (53-30) to win a district title.
After falling to four-time state champion Muskegon Catholic Central each of the last two years in a regional final, Frankfort is looking forward to the challenge of facing a first-time opponent on Saturday.
“We’re all really excited for this game, because in the past two years we’ve played in the regional and lost,” senior Gabe Johnson said. “We’re hoping that we can get a win this week and stay alive, I guess.”
“Our saying this year was unfinished business,” added Myers. “We have a lot of unfinished business that we like to think that we didn’t get to accomplish last year but we think we can this year.”
As for Saturday’s opponent, West Iron County (10-1) is looking to reach its first semifinal since finishing runner-up in the 1977 Class C state final. Winners of the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference, the Wykons have won 10 straight since dropping their season opener to Bark-River Harris.
Kickoff on Saturday is slated for 1:30 p.m.