Beal City Falls to Reading in Division 8 State Finals

DETROIT – Beal City’s run to its first MHSAA state finals appearance since 2013 ended Friday with a loss to defending Division 8 state champion Reading at Ford Field in Detroit.

Making its eighth state title game appearance in program history and first under coach Brad Gross, Beal City ran into a dominant defensive outfit in a 33-6 defeat in the MHSAA Division 8 state championship game.

Beal City’s ground attack was stagnant thanks to the senior brother combination of Ben and Nick Affholter. The two, who stand at 6-foot-3, 307 pounds, and 6-foot-2, 287 pounds, respectively, combined for 18 total tackles including six for a loss.

The Rangers outgained the Aggies 315-157 on Friday, including 260-42 on the ground, and held an 18-4 advantage on first downs.

“I’m just proud of our kids,” Gross said Friday’s loss. “They played their hearts out against the defending state champs. It was 14-6 at halftime and we had them right where we wanted them. We just didn’t make the plays today. Hats off to Reading, they’re a great football team… Our kids played their butt off.”

Trailing 8-0 after the first quarter Friday, Beal City senior quarterback Jack Schafer found T.J. Maxon for a 56-yard yard up the right sideline on 2nd and 13 with 10:07 remaining in the second quarter.

With both sides stalling out throughout much of the second quarter, Reading went ahead 14-6 with 29 seconds left before the half on a 40-yard touchdown reception from Porter Mauk to Hunter Midtgard.

Beal City’s defense impressed in the first half, as the Aggies held a team averaging more than 43 points a game to 14 points in the opening 24 minutes of play.

“Our approach was to make them earn every yard, pack the box, and I think we did that really well,” Gross said. “We played man coverage in the defensive back field and put an extra guy in the box, and I think that threw them off a little bit. I just think the resiliency of our kids was the main reason for our defensive success.”

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The second half was all Reading, though, as the Rangers tacked on two more scores in the third quarter to take a 26-6 lead to the fourth.

Elijah Strine paced Reading on the ground with 73 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries while Midtgard tallied 67 yards and a score on 12 rushes.

Mauk completed half his passes at 3-of-6 for 55 yards and a pair of scores.

Trey Small led the Beal City ground game with 28 yards on nine carries while Schafer was 5-of-9 through the air for 115 yards, a score and an interception.

Logan Chillman caught a pair of Schafer’s passes for 59 yards in his final prep game while Maxon had the one catch for 56 yards.

The Aggies, who wrap up their year at 12-2, are set to graduate 14 seniors from this year’s roster that saw a 10-win improvement from last year’s 2-7 season. The 12-2 mark came on the heels of consecutive losing campaigns and was the fourth state finals appearance for Beal City since 2009.

Reading concluded a 13-1 season with its second state championship in team history. Reading’s only loss came to the hands of Division 7 finalist Pewamo-Westphalia in Week 1.

Categories: Football