St. Francis Makes First Trip to State Finals Since 2009

Traverse City St. Francis is returning to the state finals this week for a 10th time in program history and first since 2009.

Tcsf 2The Gladiators (9-2) will face New Lothrop (10-0) in a meeting of state powers Saturday morning in the MHSAA Division 7 title game at Ford Field.

After opening its 2020 season with a 1-2 mark, St. Francis has recorded eight straight wins, including a 13-12 victory over Cass City in last weekend’s state semifinal. It was the fourth semifinal appearance for the Gladiators since 2015.

“You haven’t come this far to just come this far,” St. Francis coach Josh Sellers said . “It’s the first time since our seniors were first graders that our program has made it to the state finals and that’s a long time in our program. They’ve been motivated to make that a priority for them. When we talked at the start of the season I asked the seniors, I said what do you want our motto wanted to be, and they said we want it to be “something to prove.” We’re still one game away from proving that something, but so far they’ve done a nice job of living up to that.”

Traverse City St. Francis Road to Ford Field
Sault Ste. Marie 7-14
Grayling 42-20
Kingsley 23-36
Cheboygan 49-0
Ogemaw Heights 35-14
Jackson Lumen Christi 21-20
L’Anse 65-7
Harbor Springs 35-8
Charlevoix 44-32
Oscoda 2-0
Cass City 13-12

To prepare for the indoor confines of Ford Field, St. Francis began practicing indoors at a ballroom at the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa on Tcsf 4Wednesday.

“It’s amazing to think about that I’ll bring my kids back one day for a homecoming game and I’ll tell them that I was a part of the team that went until January and made it to a state championship,” St. Francis senior Aidan Schmuckal said.

“It’s been an amazing ride, craziest year you could ask for, but to now be able to see all the work we’ve put into it, it’s worth every little bit being at Ford Field,” added senior Jimmy Muzljakovich. “Working for that state championship, it’s awesome.”

New Lothrop’s Road to Ford Field
Mt. Morris 35-8
Byron 61-0
Montrose 44-15
Ovid-Elsie 38-0
Durand 49-6
Chesaning 62-7
Burton Bendle 63-16
Bath 56-12
Detroit Loyola 41-7
Schoolcraft 36-21

Like St. Francis, New Lothrop is no stranger to success and Ford Field. Since 2006, the Hornets have made six state semifinal appearances and won a pair of state championships, winning the 2006 Division 8 title and 2018 Division 7 championship. New Lothrop last had a losing season in 1998.

St. Francis and New Lothrop have met three previous teams, with the Hornets holding a 2-1 lead in the series. The Gladiators won the las meeting 35-14 in 2018.

Kickoff for Saturday’s game from Ford Field is set for 10 a.m.

Categories: Football