DETROIT – The play is called “Lou Lou,” named after Grand Rapids West Catholic coach Dan Rohn’s mom.
Although Rohn credited the team’s solid defense and quarterback Travis Russell for its 27-14 victory over Menominee to win the Division 5 title, the play will be discussed for a long time for its bearing on the game because tight end Bryce Witham blended in so well with his teammates on the sideline.
Tied at 7-7 in the third quarter, the Falcons (10-4) drove to the Maroons’ 30, where the drive apparently stalled. Placekicker Travis Hoving lined up for what appeared to be a 36-yard field goal attempt, but the snap came directly to him and he hit Witham in stride down the right sideline for a 30-yard TD with 3:26 left in the third quarter.
“It’s a play we practice; I went over it with the officials before the game,” said Rohn, whose team rallied from a 1-4 start to make the playoffs by two points in the computer rankings. “I explained we’d be running it if we got the opportunity. It’s a play we believe in. … My mom passed away 25 years ago. … We nicknamed that play after her and the kids executed it perfectly.”
Russell, who completed 7 of 15 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns, had no doubt Hoving would complete the pass.
“He used to be our backup quarterback freshman year and became the kicker this year, so I had no doubts,” said Russell.
Menominee (13-1) coach Joe Noha, who now has been eliminated in the playoffs each of the last four years by West Catholic, wondered.
“They were out there and then they made an exchange and that kid sat there on the sideline and blended in really well,” Noha said. “I guess, I don’t know what the interpretation is, rule-wise. I thought you had to be in the huddle to be a participant. I don’t know. I asked the official and apparently it’s a legal play. Our kids didn’t see him and that obviously was a big play.”
Said Witham: “The idea was I just blend in with the rest of the team like I’m standing on the sidelines; luckily no one from Menominee saw me.”
Said Rohn: “We’ve practiced it and Bryce dropped it a few times.”
West Catholic used a 48-yard pass from Russell to Wooten to set up Russell’s 25-yard TD run, giving the Falcons a 21-7 lead. Russell hooked up with Wooten again for a 45-yard score to increase the lead to 27-7.
“After the 1-4 start the seniors called a team meeting,” said Wooten. “We said every game was a playoff game from there on.”
Menominee quarterback Brilinski had 71 yards rushing and 158 yards passing and Devon Harris had 10 receptions for 149 yards.