MOUNT PLEASANT – Jimmy Lehman and the Pewamo-Westphalia football team have had some unfinished business all season after falling just short in the state championship game a year ago.
And the Pirates are one victory away from accomplishing their primary goal.
Lehman and Jared Smith each ran for a pair of touchdowns as No. 2-ranked P-W rolled to a 34-16 victory over No. 4 Ubly on Saturday afternoon in a Division 7 state semifinal at Mount Pleasant High School’s Community Memorial Stadium.
The win sends the Pirates to next Saturday’s state championship game at Ford Field, where it will face Detroit Loyola.
“It means lot, but we’re so focused on finishing the job,” Lehman said. “Last year we came up short and we just want to finish it.”
Getting another shot has been the driving focus since last year’s title game loss to Ishpeming for the Pirates, and they’ve passed each of their tests to get their chance.
“They were in the weight room the Monday after the finals last year and they wanted another shot,” P-W coach Jeremy Miller said. “Now we have that shot. I think it shows that hard work pays off. We still have that big one hanging out there for us and that big goal.
“To be in this situation, I’m very proud of the way they’ve worked all year. You don’t like to say that a group deserves something, but these guys have definitely put in the work. That doesn’t happen by accident.”
Ubly became the third team ranked in the top-five of the final Associated Press Division 7 state rankings that P-W has knocked off to get back to Ford Field.
Ubly had its first two drives stopped when it failed to convert on fourth down and shorts. P-W (13-0) capitalized each time. Smith darted for a 33-yard touchdown on the Pirates’ second offensive play, while Lehman ran for a 5-yard score on the second possession as P-W was in control.
The Bearcats (12-1) were held scoreless until the final five minutes of the game.
“This is definitely the hardest playoff run I’ve had in my career,” Smith said. “Our region alone was just full of so much talent. This is our third undefeated team we’ve played now. Saugatuck and Blake Dunn – they’ve got some great athletes. And then Traverse City St. Francis last week – they matched up against us (well). They are a phenomenal team and we managed to come out with a win.
“Now we’re back in the state finals. I think it just shows the work that the team has put in. Everything has paid off for us now.”
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