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South Lyon wins thrilling playoff game after going 1-8 last year (Story by: Terry Foster)
The Lions roar began in the south end zone where South Lyon junior defensive back Jake Newman ended this evening of trickery and suspense with a game deciding interception in overtime to finally secure a 31-24 Division II pre district thriller for South Lyon over Dexter at the Jungle Friday night.
The Lions roar continued on the sidelines where Lions teammates pounced on Newman who finally read the eyes of slippery and poised sophomore Dexter quarterback Colin Parachek correctly and ended the game.
“It is an awesome feeling to see my teammates coming up to me,” Newman said. “We fought the whole game and we never gave up. That’s what we’ve been doing all season. That’s why we have been so successful.”
The roar moved to the north side of the field where the young Lions ran sprints to celebrate a 10-0 season and continued to bury last year’s 1-8 embarrassment.
And the roar still soared in the joyous locker room 20 minutes after victory was secured as the team continued a 10-year tradition of dancing, singing and stomping to blaring rock music. The noise finally subsided when mischievous coach Jeff Henson poked his head into the dressing room and threatened to play country music.
No one was in the mood for Kenny Chesney so the roar was replaced by groans. But the slaps and smiles continued.
“Oh it’s a blast,” Henson said. “We have a great group of kids that like to be around each other.”
The reward is a home rematch in the district finals with Lakes Valley Conference foe Walled Lake Western (7-3) who stopped Fenton 20-9 and hopes to avenge a 29-19 regular season loss to the Lions.
South Lyon and Dexter (6-4) did not play a football game as much as play a grid iron version of Halloween where the villain never dies. It was a night of spooky and kooky plays.
When South Lyon appeared headed into half time with a 14-7 lead Parachek fired a desperation pass down field that bounced high into the air off a player’s helmet. Dexter wide receiver Zach Koone settled under the ball like a center fielder, collected his basket of good fortune and raced 71-yards for a touchdown to tie the game, 14-14.
After South Lyon kicker Conner Harris gave his team a 17-14 lead with 10:17 remaining in regulation Dexter’s Andy Durand responded with a 96-yard kickoff return for a 21-17 Dexter lead.
And after South Lyon quarterback Connor Fracassi fired a 48 yard touchdown pass to James Haddock to retake the lead 24-21 three minutes later, the Dreadnaughts sent the game into overtime (24-24) with a 27 yard field goal by Karl Kerska.
South Lyon didn’t take the lead for good until Fracassi found teammate Ron Menard on an 8 yard scoring pass in over time.
The Lions survived Dexter along with a second quarter ankle injury to Lakes Valley Conference MVP Ian Goins who was used sparingly after twisting the ankle in the second quarter. He was on his way to a big night but junior Mitch Komorous, senior Dominic Santoni and Fracassi carried the running load.
“The coaches had faith in the other guys and so did I,” Goins said.
Dexter obviously had faith in Parachek who passed for 260 yards and showed poise for a youngster by extending plays with his legs and often finding the open man on roll outs. Colin must fend off younger brother Brennan, a fire ball throwing eighth grader who is just as big and strong as his older brother and should challenge for a spot on varsity next season.
Dexter has its own rags to riches story. The Dreadnaughts snapped a 42-game losing streak earlier this season and rebounded to finish second in the Southeast Conference White Division behind Jackson.
They gave South Lyon a mighty scare and nearly doused the mighty Lions roar in the Jungle. After Newman finally secured the ball game his coach finally breathed a sigh of relief.
“Thank you,” Henson said.
South Lyon returned 24 players with playing experience so Henson knew his team that gave up an average of 35 points a game last season would be better. But this?
“It was a matter of how were we going to come together,” Henson said. “We dedicated ourselves all season. They didn’t forget what it was like last year and they did not want to repeat it so they dedicated themselves.”