There are teams with quarterbacks as good as St. Francis' Tyler Johnston. Maybe, just maybe, there are teams with a receiver as good as the Knights' Scott Loy.
But there aren't many high school teams in our parts with two players who play two ways any better than those two guys. They are two good.
Offensively, they hooked up on two touchdown passes last night before a raucous packed house of 9,000-plus at Whitmer.
But when the showdown between City League unbeatens came down to crunch time, with the host Panthers pounding on the door for a go-ahead touchdown as time became precious, it was what Johnston and Loy did on defense that sealed the deal in a 21-17 St. Francis victory.
Alex Kenzie and Dan Yodzis made big plays for negative yardage after Whitmer's shifty quarterback, Joe Missler, had driven his team to the St. Francis 13. On a third-down play, Missler tossed a swing pass to Randall Kennedy, who cut to head toward the end zone before Johnston led a charge of defenders that buried him after a four-yard gain.
Then, on the Panthers' last chance, Loy batted down a pass to deliver a sixth win in as many weeks and pave some more road toward a state playoff berth for the Knights.
So, were Johnston and Loy more clutch on offense or defense?
"Wow, we had to make those stops at the end of the game," Johnston said. "I guess that makes me the happiest."
"It came down to the last plays," he said. "The defense stepped up to make it happen."
Knights' coach Dick Cromwell decided to flip a coin.
"They played great on both sides of the ball," he said.
Indeed. Their first-half touchdowns came on pass plays of 63 and 14 yards. On both, the balls were perfectly thrown and the routes were perfectly run.
Johnston and Loy are two of the seniors on a roster swollen by 37 sophomores and juniors. That, perhaps, is why the Knights' season has been such a surprise.
"Each week it becomes a nicer surprise," Cromwell said with a sly grin.
Loy figures the shock should be wearing off by now.
"We've really put the pieces together and I would hope that after this one people will see we're a real City League contender and state contender," Loy said, adding that last night's game provided "the greatest atmosphere I've ever played in."
The game, of course, is just one of the reasons they turn on the lights on this or any Friday night.
It is Homecoming weekend for Whitmer and do you want to bet there isn't at least one Panther cheerleader going to the big dance tonight with a St. Francis football player? We'll spare you the names to spare them some grief and we presume he will be humble.
But old love, too.
The Panthers' loss surely couldn't spoil the night for Bill Ellis and June Reinboldt, whose maiden name was Hartman 64 years ago when Ellis took her to the prom. Both were members of the Whitmer Class of 1945.
Their next date came last night.
"Old fools," June said with a demure smile.
"This is quite a night for us," Bill said. "This is the first time I've been back for a game since I was in school here."
He picked a good one. There was one problem, though. When the Whitmer band struck up the school's alma mater, Bill said, "Geez, I don't remember the words."
June did; each and every one of them.
But it was the fans on the St. Francis side who did all the singing after the game.
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