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Royal Oak

Published October 24, 2012

Shrine football takes aim at unbeaten Loyola in playoff opener

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After beating Liggett in the final week of the regular season, Conner Francek and the Shrine (5-4) football team earned an at-large bid to the D-7 playoffs. The Knights kick things off this weekend against unbeaten Detroit Loyola.

For most 5-4 football teams, the first Sunday night following the regular season is one of angst, nerves and either heartbreak or eventual elation.

For John Goddard and the Royal Oak Shrine squad, this year was all about tradition.

“Every year after the season we get together for dinner with the team and watch the selection show,” Goddard explained.

Shrine ended the regular season 5-4 thanks to a convincing 26-0 win against Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett in the final week.

Adding up playoff points, Goddard said he knew his team would qualify at 5-4.

He just didn’t know where or against whom.

“What can you even do now?” he said with a laugh after learning his team’s fate, an opening-round date with 9-0 Detroit Loyola, the same team that’s eliminated Shrine from two of the past three postseasons and won this year’s meeting 51-20 two weeks ago.

“Hey, the word ‘upset’ is in the dictionary for a reason,” Goddard continued. “We’re going to go into this game, have some fun and see what happens.”

The game is set for 1 p.m. Oct. 27 at the University of Detroit Jesuit.

This year’s appearance marks the 10th straight for Shrine, which has missed the playoffs once since 1998, though this team figures to be a considerable underdog to a Loyola team that is averaging 47.1 points per game while allowing 6.3.

The Bulldogs beat Shrine 29-0 in the second round last year.

“They are the big, bad wolf, no other way to put it,” Goddard said. “We just have to be Little Red Riding Hood.”

Shrine had lost three straight games before beating Liggett in Week 9.

“This team has been through a lot,” Goddard said. “But truthfully, this is the most enjoyable group of kids I’ve been around. So to get in and have a chance is pretty special. … We don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’ll play with a lot of pride, we’ll have some fun, and we’ll see what could happen.”

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