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Royal Oak

Published October 31, 2012

Goddard praises 2012 Shrine team after season ends in playoff opener

» click to enlarge «
Shrine coach John Goddard stands with his team prior to a D-7 pre-district game against Loyola. The Knights ended the season in a 36-14 loss.

DETROIT — He’s had teams with more talent, ones that won more games and carried the playoff torch later into the fall season.

But as he looked back on the recently completed 2012 season, John Goddard stood under a beaming sun on a cool Saturday afternoon at University of Detroit Jesuit without a complaint in the world.

“We had our chances (to be in this one), but you can’t take anything away from (Detroit Loyola),” Goddard said following a 36-14 loss in the opening round of the Division 7 playoffs Oct. 27. “We got beat by a better team here today. … But you know what, the sun will come up tomorrow and the Shrine football program is going to be in great shape.”

When camp opened three months ago, Goddard found himself at the helm of one of his youngest teams ever.

Reaching the playoffs has become an unquestioned expectation for the Knights, but after graduating so much talent in 2011, they were in for a fight.

Fight they would, to the very last day.

Shrine finished the regular season with an impressive 26-0 victory against Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett, earning a 5-4 record and an at-large berth to face Loyola in the first round.

Loyola finished the regular season 9-0 and had beaten Shrine by 31 just two weeks prior.

But the Knights came out ready for an upset, trailing just 8-0 after the first quarter and 8-7 late in the first half.

Mistakes, youth and a constant, punishing attack by Loyola eventually proved to be too much.

“At the same time, like I told our coaches before this game, if someone had come to me before the season and said we’d finish 5-4 and have a shot against Loyola in the playoffs, I think we all would have taken it,” Goddard explained.

So what was it about this group that allowed the successes to play out?

This was, after all, a roster with just six seniors and a starting lineup that featured six sophomores.

“It started at the top,” Goddard explained. “I’ve never a better group of captains than we did this year. They set the example, took charge of this team, and the guys followed suit. … Of all the teams I’ve coached, this was one of the most enjoyable I’ve gotten the chance to work with.”

And many will be back in 2013.

“We’re going to be pretty good,” Goddard added. “The guys coming back see what it takes to get to this point. The future is very bright around here.”

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