DECKERVILLE — One of these seasons, Deckerville is going to win a playoff game like this.
The Eagles will be the ones making a goal line stand late in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles will be the ones scoring the go-ahead touchdown on their final possession.
The Eagles will be the ones.
It’s going to happen.
Once again here Saturday afternoon, Deckerville saw its football season come to a disappointing end. With a chance to at least tie, or even take the lead, in the final minute of their Division 8 regional championship game, the Eagles were stopped by a determined Fulton defense in the waning moments.
The result? Another playoff heartbreaker, this one a 20-13 setback to the momentum-building Pirates.
It’s the third time in the last five seasons Deckerville has lost in the regional championship game. And it’s the 10th time in 15 seasons the Eagles have lost a playoff game by eight points or less.
We can go all the way back to the Eagles’ 26-22 opening-round loss to Almont in 1996 as the start to what’s become an unwanted post-season ritual.
It happened again the following two seasons, a 6-0 setback to Brown City in 1997 in a snowstorm, and then a 21-14 loss to Britton-Macon-Deerfield on the road in 1998.
Deckerville’s one and only trip to the state semifinals happened in 2000. After flattening an undefeated McBain team in the regionals, the Eagles traveled to Gaylord and suffered a hard-fought 24-18 setback to Iron Mountain — the eventual Division 7 state champion.
Deckerville’s hard-luck run has happened a few more times in recent years. In 2001, the Eagles hosted Detroit DePorres in what is still one of the best games I have ever covered. The Eagles lost 27-20 to the eventual state champions in the regional finals.
After blanking Ubly 27-0 during the 2005 regular season, the Eagles dropped a heartbreaking 27-26 decision to the Bearcats in the opening round of the playoffs.
The following year, they lost a very entertaining 36-28 road decision to New Lothrop, which went on to finish 14-0 and win the state championship.
And just last season, the Eagles were kicked in the gut when Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes booted a field goal on the game’s final play for a 30-28 victory.
Now, all these scenarios aren’t meant to be an indictment on the program
Far from it.
The Eagles have put themselves in position to win these games, but just haven’t come up with those one or two critical plays to get the job done.
That’s just bad luck.
Here Saturday, it was a failed fourth down conversion from the Fulton 10-yard line with less than a minute to play which came up a yard short. If the Eagles convert, they might have been celebrating a regional crown.
Instead, the Pirates — a team which qualified for the playoffs with a 5-4 record and had to win their final two games just to have a shot at getting in — are the ones off to the state semifinals.
And the Eagles are once again left shaking their heads in disappointment — and disgust.
Don’t be surprised to see the Eagles in this same position next season. They do lose seven very good and experienced seniors, but they also return plenty of talent, too.
They could be right back hosting another regional title game.
And this time, it could be the Eagles making the game-winning play at the end.
One of these seasons, it’s going to happen.