Shrine football team taking aim at continuing program’s postseason streak

By: Mike Moore | Royal Oak Review | Published September 4, 2013

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — He spoke about new kids and new faces — about a young team learning on the fly and finding ways to scrape out a win.

And that’s exactly what Shrine football did: scraped out a win on opening night against Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett Aug. 29.

“It’s a lot easier to build on a win than it is on a loss,” Royal Oak Shrine coach John Goddard said following the 14-6 victory at Liggett.

And build is what the Knights plan to do.

“We’re powered by tradition,” junior quarterback Tim Niehaus said after throwing a 26-yard touchdown and rushing for a 2-yard score in the win. “Coach really emphasizes tradition to us, and we understand it.”

While a turnover in roster has shifted some responsibilities of returning starters, and put those new kids and new faces in new spots, the expectations haven’t changed at all.

Shrine has made the state playoffs 10 straight years — 13 times since 1999.

Contending for a league title and playing in the Prep Bowl aren’t just hopes; they are, more or less, anticipated.

“I don’t think this team is a whole lot different than any before it,” Goddard said. “We can play better than we did today, and we will. We expect to get better, but I think this team is a lot like others before it.”

The difference, though, is at the top.

Shrine teams from the past decade have often relied on experienced and talented seniors.

The 2013 group of elder statesmen is talented, but is also just five deep.

“So this year, when we started camp, it was all about team, team, team,” Niehaus explained. “It didn’t matter what grade you were or how old you were, as long as you could step up and help.”

That was exactly the case in the opener.

While the offense was far from great and let some scoring chances go by, it did enough to possess the ball and put pressure on Liggett’s defense.

While the Shrine defense will improve, it allowed just 91 yards and no points.

The Knights’ lone score came on a kick return.

“We’re going to get better,” Goddard stressed. “There was nothing pretty about this one, but a win is all that matters.”

As for keeping the playoff streak alive?

“Hey,” he said with a smile. “It wasn’t pretty, but now we only need five wins in eight weeks. That’s a lot better than needing six in eight.”