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Clinton Township

October 31, 2012

Big Reds bow out with heads held high

Chippewa Valley football falls to Dakota in playoffs after solid year
» click to enlarge «
Chippewa Valley’s Jerry Taylor, right, grabs an interception during the Oct. 26 playoff game against Dakota. Taylor also scored a touchdown, but the Big Reds lost 17-7.

MACOMB TOWNSHIP – Chippewa Valley’s football season came to an end when the Big Reds fell 17-7 in a first-round playoff game Oct. 26 at Macomb Dakota.

While the team would have liked to remain alive in the postseason, the game marked a step in the right direction for the program. Chippewa finishes this season at 5-5 overall after going 3-6 and 2-7 the last two seasons.

“I think our kids showed they could play with anybody this year,” Big Reds coach Scott Merchant said. “We had a rough couple of years there, but our kids have worked hard to get back where we want to be.”

Chippewa trailed just 4-0 at the half after a pair of safeties for Dakota, and the teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter. But Dakota pulled away and held on for the victory in the fourth quarter.

“The kids played their hearts out,” Merchant said. “I’m really proud of them. They played with incredible courage and determination.”

The coach said that the goal was to play well in the division and get back into the playoffs. The Big Reds ended up 2-3 in the Macomb Area Conference Red Division, but started out 2-1 in league play and remained competitive in all their games.

Merchant said he especially wanted to win the playoff game for his seniors — the first group he’s had for all four years since he’s been varsity coach at Chippewa.

“It’s a special group of kids,” he said.

Senior Jerry Taylor made a couple of big plays for the Big Reds in the playoff game, grabbing an interception inside the 5-yard line and scoring the team’s lone touchdown.

“The kid’s an unbelievable player,” Merchant said. “Anybody who gets him in college, he’s only going to get better and better. He’s made plays on both sides of the ball for us. For a kid who was a part-time starter last year, he was our best football player this year.”

After the game, Taylor said he was proud of his teammates and classmates for their effort this season.

“We always play hard,” he said. “I’m always proud of my team. I love them.”

As for the future of the program, Merchant hopes the playoff loss can turn into a positive heading into the offseason.

“Hopefully, our younger kids savor this a little bit, chew on it the next nine months, come back, and we’ll take another step next year,” the coach said.

“Sometimes you’ve got to learn how to win. We’ve got to take it to the next level.”

For more details and photos from Chippewa’s playoff game against Dakota, check out our website at www.candgnews.com.