Constantine has a knack for shifting into high gear once November rolls around. This year’s cast of Falcons barely slipped into the Division 6 playoffs with a 5-4 record, but it’s starting to look eerily familiar to the teams that marched to Ford Field in 2011 and ’12.
Head coach Shawn Griffith’s squad has beaten its last two opponents by a combined score of 97-40. The Falcons (7-4) are coming off 56-14 district championship win at Hillsdale, and they continue their road tour 1 p.m. Saturday at undefeated and fourth-ranked Clinton.
The last couple weeks have quite enjoyable after a nine-week grind through the Kalamazoo Valley Association slate.
“That’s the whole key (fun),” Griffith said. “The good thing is they’re enjoying their time with each other. That’s what the game is all about. These guys finally came together. It has been a great couple weeks. Winning will do that, and I realize that, especially when you’re winning championships and bringing home trophies.
“Then families even get involved. It has been a good experience. I’m glad we got the opportunity to be in the playoffs. It makes it even more special the fact that we certainly didn’t feel we were even going to have a chance to play for a title, let alone win one.”
Constantine’s offensive line has blazed the path thus far and players such as Taylor Reiff, who has rushed for 373 yards and seven touchdowns in two playoff games, and quarterback Matt Hasbrouck (286 yards and five TDs) have taken full advantage of the daylight.
The Redskins are on a remarkable run after winning their first district title since 1999. They were 9-0 last season before losing to Sand Creek by a point in the opening round. They knocked off No. 8 Grass Lake 39-14.
Featuring a crowded stable of speedy running backs, three-year starting quarterback TJ Baker is the team’s catalyst. He does it all while operating out of a variety of offensive schemes. Two weeks ago against Whitemore Lake, Baker was an efficient 5-of-8 passing for 107 yards and two touchdowns. He added a short scoring run. Against Grass Lake, he rushed for over 100 yards and two touchdowns.
Then there are the Poore boys — brothers Collin and Noah. Both tailbacks are capable of breaking off big gains if they get to the edge and into open space. Collin Poore rushed for 221 yards and two TDs vs. Grass Lake and Noah Poore found the end zone from 37 yards out and caught a 10-yard TD pass.
“They’re pretty fast,” Griffith said. “Offensively they run a lot of different formations. They’ve got four or five kids that can carry the ball and catch the ball. Their quarterback is a third-year starter and he’s thrown for 1,600 yards and he’s rushed for quite a few. I think he’s thrown for 19 touchdowns and rushed for 14 or 15. He’s a good athlete.”
Clinton’s strength defensively is its line, but Constantine, Griffith believes, is the first Wing-T team it has faced this year. Not only that, the Falcons run it very well, especially over the last three or so weeks.
“It will be a challenge for them,” said Griffith, who added that treasuring the football is likely going to be the difference. Constantine was undone against Battle Creek Pennfield and Olivet due to an uncharacteristic amount of turnovers.
Griffith also explained that Clinton is probably the team’s first playoff opponent in five years that hasn’t gone up against some version of the Wing-T.
“We’re going to have to hang on to the football and make sure we’re scoring when we get the opportunities,” he said.