Trent Stone has had one of the best seasons by any individual in mid-Michigan this fall.
The Holt do-it-all senior running back would trade his personal accomplishments for a chance to experience the state playoffs again.
A trip to the postseason and a conference title are at stake for Stone and the Rams when they host CAAC Blue rival and Division 1 No. 7-ranked Grand Ledge on Friday to close the regular season.
“I love my team,” Stone said. “Accomplishments are just a little part of the game but building a family is the big picture. I feel like me and my brothers have what it takes to make the playoffs and along with that be league champions.”
Grand Ledge (8-0, 6-0 CAAC Blue) captured a share of the league title with its win over East Lansing and Holt’s loss to Jackson last week. The Comets along with Portland, Pewamo-Westphalia and Ithaca are the mid-Michigan teams trying to complete perfect regular seasons.
First-year Holt coach Chad Fulk and the Rams (5-3, 5-1) join Haslett, Laingsburg, Olivet, Alma and Carson-City Crystal as the area teams in need of a victory Friday to automatically qualify for the state playoffs.
Fulk, who took over a Holt team that went 3-6 last fall, envisioned the Rams being in this position and competing for a league championship this week. Holt has bounced back from an 0-2 start to make that possible.
“It wasn’t ideal,” Fulk said. “They came out and wanted to prove something right away and they had to learn to stick together. Some of them were starting to split apart and there were some things when it was about me rather than about we and they learned quickly that you have to do it as a team in football. You can’t do it as individuals. If you are going to do it as individuals, you’re not going to do well.
“I was very happy the way they responded and played as a team. They learned that it’s team football that will get them where they want to go.”
The Rams had won five straight until last week’s loss to Jackson. This week the focus has been about team as they brace for another big game in a rivalry that’s been one of the best in mid-Michigan and decided league championships on numerous occasions.
“Those things are so cool that you get to experience and we just wanted our guys to be able to be a part of that,” Fulk said while discussing the atmosphere surrounding the Grand Ledge-Holt rivalry. “We just wanted our guys to experience something like this. We had a setback last week with Jackson. Jackson is a really good team, especially down there on the turf and I don’t know if our guys were ready for what they had coming. They definitely are ready this week.”
Contact Brian Calloway at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @brian_calloway.
BIG STAKES FRIDAY
Conference titles and spots in the playoffs are among the things on the line for several mid-Michigan teams. Here’s a closer look.
LEAGUE TITLES: The CAAC Blue and Central Michigan 8-man titles are on the line Friday. Grand Ledge has a share of the Blue title, but Holt can earn a share of the crown when it hosts the Comets. Portland St. Patrick and Morrice will be playing for the 8-man title Friday. Both posted a win over Webberville.
A WIN AWAY: Six mid-Michigan teams need a victory to guarantee a spot in the postseason. Alma, Carson-City Crystal, Haslett, Holt, Laingsburg and Olivet each are 5-3. There’s a chance some five-win teams could reach the postseason if not enough teams reach six victories.
CHASING PERFECTION: Grand Ledge, Ithaca, Pewamo-Westphalia and Portland are the mid-Michigan teams trying to complete perfect regular seasons.
RECORD WATCH: Stockbridge junior quarterback Mason Gee-Montgomery is four passing touchdowns away from matching the state record set by Lansing Catholic’s Cooper Rush in 2011. Gee-Montgomery has thrown 44 TD passes in eight games. Rush threw 48 in 14 games.