Bobcats snap 10-year playoff droughtPublished 3:05pm Sunday, October 14, 2012
Selge field played host to the biggest party in Niles as the Brandywine Bobcat football program ended a pair of decade-long droughts with its 38-16 homecoming win over visiting Cassopolis Friday night.
The win was made all the sweeter for the Bobcats because it ended the Rangers’ (3-6) 10-year winning-streak against Brandywine.
However, the crowning moment of the evening was when the announcement was made over the PA that the Bobcats (6-2) had officially qualified for the MHSAA playoffs, with the team subsequently receiving a standing ovation from the hometown crowd.
This year’s team becomes the first Brandywine football team since 2002 and only the third team ever to qualify for the playoffs.
The gravity of their accomplishment was not lost on the Bobcats’ senior leaders who shared tears of joy and hugs at midfield well after the game had ended.
“This honestly means everything to me. I’m so glad it happened, so glad it happened,” an emotional senior tailback Courtlan Gordon said.
Gordon’s backfield partner, senior Michael Shelton, was also elated by his team’s achievement to make it to the post season.
“We’ve been trying our hardest these last four years to achieve this and it’s finally true, it has finally come true,” he said.
Bobcat head coach Mike Nate is no stranger to the playoffs. He was an assistant on the 1990 Dowagiac team that won a state championship. He was also on Dave Janicki’s staff when Niles High School qualified for the playoffs three consecutive years and got its first playoff victory ever in 2003.
This time around though means a little more to him than his previous trips to the big dance.
“This is the sweetest of them all. When I took the job four years ago, you know, we had a long way to go. But we can officially say it now, we’re going to the playoffs,” he said. “We’ve had one goal since Aug. 6, that was make the playoffs and these guys have worked their butts off to get where we’re at, now its reality.”
The Bobcats outgained the Rangers 345-218 on offense and forced four turnovers in the winning effort. Gordon led all rushers with 142 yards and two touchdowns. He also had one receiving touchdown. Senior fullback Marty Ward also added 111 yards and two scores on the ground for the Bobcats.
Senior running back Evan Brown led Cass’ efforts with 91 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries. Junior quarterback Vashaun Morgan added 78 yards and one touchdown for the Rangers.
Looking ahead, Ward (who is also a senior captain) said it’s important to remain focused on what’s important.
“We have to take it one game at a time. Treat it like every other game. Give it 110%, never let up and maybe we’ll be able to make history,” he said.
The Bobcats will look to go 7-2 and improve upon their playoff standing next week as they host River Valley on “Senior Night” Friday at 7 p.m.
Brandywine 14 16 8 0 – 38
Cassopolis 8 0 6 2 – 16
B – Marty Ward 2 run (Andrew Duckett to Alec Nichols pass)
C – Evan Brown 77 run (Vashaun Morgan run)
B – Courtlan Gordon 14 pass from Duckett (conversion fails)
B – Gordon 2 run (Duckett to Brian Kline pass)
B – Gordon 55 run (Duckett to Kline pass)
C – Morgan 54 run (conversion fails)
B – Ward 3 run (Duckett to Kline good)
C – Safety