GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The MHSAA state football tournament started with 256 teams; in one week, only eight will remain standing.
Each team will take their own unique drive to Ford Field: some will do it by overcoming the adversary of injury, others will do it with complete domination. But for West Catholic High School, if they want to defend their Division Five State Championship it will take miles and money.
“If we want to get to the state championship, it continuously goes through Menominee and through the UP to get to Detroit,” Falcons Head Coach Dan Rohn said.
Rohn has been the coach at West Catholic for the last seven years. He led the school to its’ first ever state championship. In his first season, he took a perfect 12-0 team to the Superior Dome where they lost at the hands of the Maroons. Since then, they’ve won four straight against the Maroons. But like everything, it has had a cost.
“You don’t get the kind of support you’d like from the MHSAA. I mean it’s tough, but I don’t think they understand the kind of expenses that are entitled to this thing,” Rohn said.
His assistant Athletic Director, Sue Armstrong, has pounded the preparation down to a science. She books their 57-passenger charter bus in the last week of August, just in case they make this trip. The hotels they stay in are an hour away from the stadium, cheaper rates and minimal distractions.
“Dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s,” Armstrong said. “It adds up very quickly.”
In total, the program will spend around $8,330 to play Menominee for a chance at a state championship. Rohn says great community support allows for parents to donate food and time to help with the difficulty of the trip. But the hardest part for Rohn is cutting down his roster; he’s got 68 players and only 43 can make the trip.