Farmington Hills Harrison senior running back Roderick Heard runs for a touchdown in a Division 4 regional final Nov. 10 against Chelsea High. The Hawks fell 21-14. Heard rushed for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the game and moved up to fourth all-time on the Harrison rushing list.

Farmington Hills Harrison senior running back Roderick Heard runs for a touchdown in a Division 4 regional final Nov. 10 against Chelsea High. The Hawks fell 21-14. Heard rushed for 160 yards and two touchdowns in the game and moved up to fourth all-time on the Harrison rushing list.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


End of an era for Harrison football

By: Zachary Manning | Farmington Press | Published November 12, 2018

 Farmington Hills Harrison senior running back Vincent Rawls evades a Chelsea High tackler in a Division 4 regional final game Nov. 10. The Hawks finished the season with an 8-4 overall record.

Farmington Hills Harrison senior running back Vincent Rawls evades a Chelsea High tackler in a Division 4 regional final game Nov. 10. The Hawks finished the season with an 8-4 overall record.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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FARMINGTON HILLS — When the clock hit all zeroes and Farmington Hills Harrison coach John Herrington had time to reflect on his team’s 21-14 Division 4 regional final loss to Chelsea High, he used a Don Meredith quote to sum up the end of an era: “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.”

Harrison is set to close its doors at the end of the academic year, and the Hawks’ football program, which began in 1970, will finish with a Michigan record 13 state championships.

Herrington is the winningest coach in state history with 443 victories.

With just under six minutes to play, Harrison held a 14-7 lead, thanks to a big game from senior running back Roderick Heard, who had 160 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

The Hawks were in control until a couple of late miscues helped the Bulldogs find a spark. After a 12-yard punt set Chelsea up at its own 48-yard line, the Bulldogs went on a 10-play, 52-yard drive, capped off by an 11-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Quinn Starkey to senior receiver Hunter Neff.

With 2:07 left to play and the score tied, Harrison had a chance for one more week of magic. But, on the seventh play of the drive, an errant snap was kicked around and eventually recovered by the Bulldogs at the Harrison 27-yard line, setting up the game-winning score.

“There’s a lot of different things. Short punts, penalties and a bad snap when I thought we might go down and get a field goal at the end to win it. We won a little bit lucky last week, and we lost a little bit unlucky this week. That’s the way football is,” Herrington said.

As the coaches, players and fans headed toward the locker room, there was a mix of emotions. Some were crying, others were remaining upbeat and the rest of the crowd was reminiscing about the good times in the program’s history.

The players filed into the locker room and Herrington and the coaching staff addressed the team for the last time. Each coach was very proud of the team’s fight throughout the game and the season.

“I just told them to be proud of themselves and that they stuck with Harrison,” Herrington said. “It would’ve been easy to bail out. They stuck with the program three years of knowing it was going to close, and the juniors especially that stayed in. I appreciate them. I think they won more games than a lot of people thought we would, so I was proud of that.”

The Hawks finished the season with an 8-4 overall record and saw Heard rise to fourth all-time on the Harrison rushing list. He finished his career with 3,059 rushing yards and will head to Northwestern University next season.

“Being able to go here for four years, leaving, personally, the legacy that I have, and the accomplishments that I have accomplished while I was here — and also playing for great coaches, great football atmosphere — it’s definitely an honor,” Heard said. “And I feel truly blessed to have come to Harrison and played football here.”

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