TROY — For Lake Orion High senior Brett Cunningham, it was a simple formula for success this football season.
“It was sweat and blood together, every day. Grinding it out through summer every day. We were always there for each other. It’s just a great team. I couldn’t ask for any better,” Cunningham said, in between hugging teammates following a season-ending loss to Detroit Cass Tech.
The Dragons fell a game short of reaching the Division 1 state final, losing 34-27 to the Technicians Nov. 17 at Troy Athens.
“I’m very proud of my guys. What they did won’t sink in for a while, but I’m very proud of them,” coach Chris Bell said. “They’re a great football team. They deserved to be here, and we fought until the end. We wish the best for Cass Tech. They’re a great team, and they can go get another one.”
Lake Orion finishes the season 11-2 overall. Tech, meanwhile, heads to Ford Field to defend its state championship.
“These kids are my family,” Cunningham said. “I wouldn’t replace them for anyone. I wouldn’t want to switch teams for anything. I’m proud of them. I wish we would have went further, but it is what it is.”
Tech never trailed in the contest and had as much as a 21-7 lead in the second quarter, getting scores from a 71-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jayru Campbell to Damon Web, a 5-yard scoring run from Mike Weber, and an 8-yard touchdown run from Campbell.
Lake Orion’s score came on a 1-yard plunge from Jacob Miller.
The Dragons cut the lead to 21-14, when quarterback Derek Delaura found receiver Chaz Miller over the middle from 10-yards out, as time expired in the half.
“We felt at halftime we played as bad as we could play, and we were still in it and had a chance,” Bell said. “In the second half, they just made more plays than we did. … They deserve to be going to Ford Field.”
Lake Orion tied it 21-21 on its second possession in the third, when Delaura hit a wide open Jeremy King from 20 yards out.
The Technicians were quick to respond, going up 28-21, when Campbell threw a strike to Jourdan Lewis on a 29-yard post with 11:12 left in the game.
Lake Orion rebounded on its next possession, getting a 71-yard touchdown run from Corey Ester, but failed to convert the extra point, leaving it a 28-27 Tech lead.
After trading possessions, the Dragons were forced to let Tech score, in order to get the ball back and have a chance. Tech’s Weber did the duty, walking in from 10 yards out with 2:28 left in the game to make it 34-27.
Lake Orion moved the ball near midfield, but eventually turned it over on downs on its final drive.