Road to Ford Field: Beal City Back in the Motor City for Thanksgiving

BEAL CITY – After a six-year absence, the Beal City football program is returning to Detroit and Ford Field for Thanksgiving weekend.

Beal City is making its first trip to the Division 8 state finals since finishing runner-up in 2012 and 2013.

A two-time state champion and now eight-time state finalist, Beal City makes its first appearance in the MHSAA Division 8 state championship game under the direction of alum and fifth-year head coach Brad Gross.

The Aggies (12-1) square off against 2018 Division 8 state champion Reading (12-1) Friday morning.

After consecutive losing campaigns, Beal City’s turnaround in 2019 has included a 10-win improvement from last year’s 2-7 mark and a share of its first Highland Conference title since 2015.

Beal City now has its sights set on claiming its third state championship and first since winning the 2009 Division 8 title.

Beal City’s lone loss was 27-0 shutout against McBain in Week 8. The Aggies went on to close out the regular season with a 21-14 win over playoff qualifier and Central State Activities Association Silver champion Morley Stanwood before recording postseason victories over St. Ignace (49-22), Johannesburg-Lewiston (33-20), Ishpeming (27-14) and Ubly (21-20).

Beal City will face a Reading team that allowed 97 points through 13 games in 2019.

The Aggies have been busy preparing for Ford Field’s field turf surface by utilizing nearby Central Michigan University’s indoor football practice facility. Beal City also hosted its pre-district and regional contest on the field turf at Mt. Pleasant Community Memorial Stadium and faced off against Ubly last Saturday in the state semifinal on the same turf.

“The last two or three weeks, we’ve played some pretty physical football games,” Gross said. “That’s my biggest thing is matching their physicality and then just keeping your emotions in check. I mean, it’s the big stage, it’s the bright lights, and the kids are going to be nervous. It’s just another football game once you get under the lights and I think coming here kind of helps that out. You’re at CMU, and it just kind of helps prepare yourself for what’s going to come.”

As for Friday’s opponent, Reading is making its second straight state finals appearance and second in program history. The Rangers rolled through the regular season with relative ease, shutting out conference opponents in three consecutive weeks from Week 6-8.

Reading’s lone loss came at the hands of 2019 Division 7 finalist Pewamo-Westphalia in Week 1 (14-0), as the Rangers have allowed 97 points through 13 contests.

Friday’s kick off from Ford Field is set for 10 a.m.

Tale of the Tape
Beal City Aggies (12-1)
Coach: Brad Gross (34-19, 5 years)
Conference: 1st (tie), Highland Conference (6-1)
State Championships: 1994 (Class D), 2009 (Division 8)
State Finals: 1987, 1994, 2001, 2003, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2019
2019 Playoff Schedule and Results
MHSAA District Games
St. Ignace, 49-22
Johannesburg-Lewiston, 33-20
MHSAA Regional
Ishpeming, 27-14
MHSAA Semifinal
Ubly, 21-20

Reading Rangers (12-1)
Coach: Rick Bailey (221-105, 32 years)
Conference: 1st, Big 8 Conference (7-0)
State Championships: 2018 (Division 8)
State Finals: 2018, 2019
2019 Playoff Schedule and Results
MHSAA District Games
Mendon, 38-0
Cassopolis, 28-6
MHSAA Regional
Adrian Lenawee Christian, 26-21
MHSAA Semifinal
Fowler, 62-18

Categories: Football