Source: Sherman Publications

Team brings first-ever title home from Ford Field

by Megan Collier

December 01, 2010

It wasn’t for the team or for the high school. It wasn’t even for Lake Orion Community Schools.

When the clock ticked down and the Dragons officially became the best football team in the state, it was a win for Lake Orion, said Head Coach Chris Bell.

“We’re so excited to bring the championship back to Lake Orion. It’s a very humbling experience to see the support and the enthusiasm of the community. We can’t thank people enough. The players, the coaches – we understand how special this is because of our community,” Bell said.

And with the power of a community behind them, the Dragons took control of the Division 1 state championship game at Ford Field right from kickoff and never looked back.

In the opening moments, Lake Orion forced Plymouth to go three and out, and got a big punt return from Jacob Miller, giving Lake Orion had a short field to work with. The team scored on their opening drive and never relinquished the lead.

“That set the tone right away. From the opening kickoff, we were focused and the kids did a great job,” said Bell.

In the second half, Plymouth turned it up and Lake Orion made a few mistakes, elevating the tension and excitement in the stadium.

“We had a breakdown of some special teams, we had a penalty that set us back our first drive, then we gave up a punt return for a touchdown. They made some adjustments to their defense, and offensively, we weren’t as clean as we needed to be,” said Bell.

But, like they have been all year, the Dragon defense was dependably steady.

“Our defense played an outstanding football game… They played about as perfect a game as you can play, especially on a big stage. Even though we were sputtering offensively, our defense dug in and did a great job,” Bell said. “We’ve got some great athletes who score points and some great players on offense, but one of the keys to our season has been the play of our defense.”

In the end, Bell calls the game a “total team effort,” from a special group of kids who had the right chemistry.

“Maybe we’ve had more talented teams, but to have chemistry among these kids and to have them play for each other and do things the right way, it gave the team a chance,” he said.

Big efforts came from the coaching staff as well. The head coach said most of the credit goes to his defensive coordinator, Dave Tooley, and the defensive staff, John Blackstock, Eric Jennings and Jay Cohoe.

“The job they did getting those kids ready to play was unbelievable,” Bell said.

As the first Lake Orion football coach to bring home a state championship, Bell said, “It’s obviously a great accomplishment for our program, but it’s not about me. This is about these kids, and the staff and the parents who have all worked together… It takes a town to run a football program. This is a town championship.”

This Saturday, Dec. 4, the community will see its Dragons in the Holiday Lighted Parade downtown. Bell said team’s appearance in parade will be their chance to thank everyone for the support.

Read next week’s Review for team members, community members and school officials’ reactions and perspectives of the state championship. Go Dragons!