Outlook extremely bright for Country Day football team that ‘overachieved’

By: Mike Moore | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published November 28, 2012

 Country Day’s Tristin Wiegers (25) carries the ball during the D-4 final. The Yellowjackets ended the season 11-3 after falling to Grand Rapids South Christian.

Country Day’s Tristin Wiegers (25) carries the ball during the D-4 final. The Yellowjackets ended the season 11-3 after falling to Grand Rapids South Christian.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

DETROIT — When you’ve arrived at this stage and are playing for a reward this grand, simply making it is never good enough.

That was the message Beverly Hills Detroit Country Day football coach Dan MacLean was forced to convey following the Division 4 football final Nov. 23.

His team arrived at Ford Field riding a wave of emotion and momentum, with 11 wins in its rearview mirror and one final hurdle still to clear.

Some 48 minutes of football later, the outcome was not what the Yellowjackets had hoped.

“We tried to make some adjustments as the game went on, but when you make too many mistakes against a team like this, it’s very costly,” MacLean said following a 40-7 loss to Grand Rapids South Christian. “I’m very proud to get to this point, but when you’re here, you want to win.”

When junior quarterback Tyler Wiegers hit junior Maurice Ways on a 54-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter, Country Day trailed just 14-7.

But the Sailors scored three times in the third quarter, and then capped things four minutes into the fourth to finish the season 11-3 and earn their first championship since 2002.

MacLean admitted he was surprised at how the game played out, especially the second half.

His team’s strengths all year, a balanced offensive attack and stingy defense, were more or less minimized all night.

Disappointment engulfed his guys as they exited the field for the final time in 2012, but as he looked back on the season, MacLean knows just how special this year was.

“You have to go back and look at the whole season, in total,” he said. “We worked so hard to get here, made so much improvement to get to this point, and that’s what we’ll take from this. I think, when you look at our program, there’s a steppingstone process with each year. Last year was a great group that had a great season, but had a tough first game in the playoffs. Now you have this group that made it all the way here. In all reality, they probably overachieved in getting to this point.”

After losing so much talent from the 2011 squad, few expected Country Day to go on the run it did.

But with Wiegers guiding the offense, some dangerous playmakers in Ways and junior running back Richard Wilson, a solid offensive line and a defense allowing just 13 points per game, the Yellowjackets poured through the regular season with a 7-2 record, and aside from a 14-12 victory against Pontiac Notre Dame Prep in a district final, won each playoff game by 33 points or more before the state championship.

While the team will graduate 11, MacLean had no problem explaining expectations for next year.

“I think it’s fair to think this is a team that … can be a contender for a state title,” he said simply about expectations. “With the skilled players we’ll return, with the line we can bring back, and with the lessons we, hopefully, learned along the way, I can’t help but think there’s a very bright future here. I know that’s tough to think about now, and that puts a lot of pressure on these guys, but I think they welcome it. They tasted it this year. They’re going to want even more in the future.”