The Birmingham Groves Falcons had something to prove this year.
"We set out before the season wanting to prove something, we all had a bit of a chip on our shoulder, and we wanted to do something that no Groves team has ever done before and we did that," explained senior Nate Wagner.
Wagner is talking about last week's win over in the Regional Championship. It's the first regional football title in school history. Head coach Brendan Flaherty attributed their success to the unity of the team and the fact that this year's seniors have been playing together for years.
“They’re a talented group. And they’re experienced playing football which hasn’t always been the case in our community…at least at our school," explained Flaherty.
Part of that could be due to the fact that Birmingham Groves "shares" its talent pool with rival Brother Rice. The Falcons shut out the Warriors on their way to that regional title, and the team says it was definitely a big confidence boost.
"I’s definitely personal. We know a lot of the kids over there, we went to school with them, middle school, elementary school, and it’s just nice to show them that we chose the right school," said senior Jake Zanolli.
"It’s nice that we can talk about the 2016 team as the team that went the farthest in school history. And we’re not done yet. We’re just going to keep building on it," said senior Drew Scheckell.
On Saturday, the Falcons will take on the Detroit King Crusaders in the Division II semifinals. The Crusaders and the Falcons have both beat Oak Park and Southfield A&T this season, but the Crusaders have beat them by a lot more. There’s no doubt the Falcons are the underdog come Saturday but the team says that’s a term of endearment at this point.
"We were the underdogs all year, and we were projected to only win three games and we just want to show everybody it’s our time," said senior Jaleel Anderson.
Coach Flaherty said they're not taking the game against King lightly, but that they've embraced the underdog role all season. "I mean it’s a daunting challenge, I’m not going to kid you. They’re the defending Division II champions."
"You know we’ve been an underdog in pretty much every game we played, we’ve been picked against and it hasn’t really been a problem in terms of the mood of our guys in terms of who we play against, so we’re ready to fly out, hit and play anyone we go against," said Wagner.