Constantine head coach Shawn Griffith isn’t the kind of guy that makes excuses. And though a spoiled Falcons fan base may not want to hear it, sometimes the best explanation is the obvious and honest one.
“Sometimes their kids are better than your kids,” Griffith said of a 28-3 home loss to Battle Creek Pennfield Friday night — a defeat that dropped Constantine to 5-4 overall and put the program at the mercy of the Michigan High School Athletic Association playoff selection committee. The victory gave Pennfield, ranked No. 9 in Division 4, a share of the Kalamazoo Valley Association championship with Olivet and Schoolcraft.
The Falcons struggled offensively at times this season before junior halfback Justin Hull went down last week with a knee injury. They weren’t the same without their playmaking ball carrier, and combined with size mismatches all over the field, it was an uphill battle against the Panthers from the outset.
Still, the defense stood tall against the Panthers (8-1) en route to a 7-3 halftime deficit. The size differential really came into play over the next two quarters.
“They were a lot more physical than we were,” Griffith said. “No other way to put it. They came out and kind of dominated the line of scrimmage.
“The first half we held our own. We had some shots to score more points and didn’t capitalize. In the second half they just kind of pounded us. In the first half we had it down in the red zone a couple different times. We got the field goal on the one. We had a shot at a touchdown pass. The quarterback put the ball in a decent spot and we couldn’t come up with it. Those things happen.”
Hull, who had around 1,400 rushing yards before tearing his ACL in the first half against Olivet in Week 8, is scheduled to undergo surgery on Nov. 6. In his place, quarterback Matt Hasbrouck and Andres Montoya and Taylor Reiff combined for 131 yards.
“We were kind of reeling,” Griffith said. “Justin Hull makes a big difference to our offense; there’s no doubt. He forces the defense to do some things that they don’t like to do. The kids were trying their butts off and were doing a great job, too, but they just don’t have the talent that Justin can put out there.
“I really thought that we would perform better than what we did and it didn’t happen for us. Our kids battled; they played their butts off. I’m certainly not going to say anything bad about our kids. Sometimes you’re just outmanned. It happens. What this group will do is give you everything they’ve got. They did that tonight.”