It’s been a difficult and challenging road for every high school football team in the state of Michigan this year. But not every team traveled in the same direction, and it’s safe to say not one team would have enjoyed being on the road Father Gabriel Richard had to take.
The Irish’s first three games were all cancelled because of the COVID-19 restrictions handed down from Lansing. But every team had to deal with that change in the schedule.
FGR took the field on Sept. 18 and lost 27-19 to Beecher. The Irish rebounded with a nice 30-0 victory over visiting Bendle the following week.
FGR then had to hit the brakes when the entire school and all athletics were shut down for two weeks because of a COVID-19 breakout in the school.
“It was an outbreak that happened during the week in school and we wanted to play it safe and make sure everyone was safe so we shut everything down for two weeks,” said FGR Coach Matt Giarmo.
The Irish not only couldn’t play, but couldn’t practice during the two weeks.
“We did what we could during the week but we couldn’t practice as a team so we had some work to do once we got back out there,” Giarmo said. “Kids were working out on their own and they were busy with school because school was still going on with online classes.”
The Irish missed three games and returned to action last week with a 30-6 win over St. Clair Shores South Lake on Oct. 23.
Apparently, the Irish shook off any rust they may have had early in that game. FGR used up almost 10 minutes of the clock on their opening drive to set the tone.
“We had a really good week of practice leading up to the game and I think that helped a lot,” Giarmo said. “We came out and played hard and had some long drives and made some good stops on defense. The kids really responded well to being off for a couple of weeks.”
The Irish now face visiting Dundee at 4 p.m. on Friday in a first-round playoff game at FGR.
There are a few ways to look at the Vikings, who are just 1-5 on the season. They have faced some very good competition, including a number of teams that make the playoffs every year. But all five of their losses have been by 14 or more points – so they haven’t exactly been in these games.
Their one victory was a 30-8 win over Onsted, a winless team that has been blown out in every game.
Giarmo says his team is ready to go and won’t take the Vikings lightly. It’s playoff time, and you throw the records out the window.
“They’ve played a very hard schedule,” Giarmo said. “We can’t be fooled by a 1-5 record because they are going to come out and play hard. They’ve played six games and we’ve only played three so they have more game time experience than we do. It’s a matter of executing and playing hard.”
The top seed in the Regional is Romulus Summit Academy with FGR second and Grosse Ile third. The winner of the FGR-Dundee game will play the winner of the Grosse Ile-Monroe Jefferson game next Friday. An FGR win this Friday also would guarantee another home game.