Former senior class finds way to build on Beal City tradition as state runner-up
DETROIT – When Beal City coach Brad Gross first reunited his 2022 class soccer players as freshmen, he wasn’t sure they would see the pitch.
Not to mention the Ford Field.
But a group that were almost sent home – or forced into an early college call – due to lack of numbers, ended up building on Beal City’s footballing tradition as a Division 8 finalist.
The fifth-seeded Aggies suffered a tough 14-7 loss to first-seed Hudson in the title game at Ford Field, home of the Detroit Lions.
“We let one slip away, that’s what I think,” Gross said.
It was a stinging loss for Beal City (12-2), who led 7-0 in the first quarter but saw their offense get bogged down the rest of the way against a robust defense from Hudson. The Aggies, who won state titles in 1994 and 2009, were forced to settle for seventh place as the program’s state runner-up.
Crystal Falls Forest Park, the 10-time state finalist, has secured more than second places in the 47-year history of the MHSAA tournament.
“I’m super proud of these guys, they worked really hard,” said Gross, the seventh-year coach who led the Beal City team in 1994 to the Class D crown. “But when your goals are high, all you want to do is reach them. Being close doesn’t make things better, but worse.
Still, a trip to Ford Field didn’t seem so likely when this year’s seniors had just arrived in ninth grade. They were only six players strong and, coupled with a small sophomore class ahead of them, they had just 13 players for a college junior team.
“We were curious if we were going to be able to field a JV team,” Gross said. “We brought in the players and parents and told them we were wary of the big picture. If we had any injuries, we would cancel the game. We even talked about the eight man option. It didn’t sound great at the time.
“But, to their credit, they did – and they went 8-1.
“Now they’re at Ford Field. From where they started to where they are now, it’s a great story.
The story didn’t include a storybook ending, however, as Hudson took the hard-fought victory.
Beal City only managed 183 yards of total attack, including 109 on two big passes. The first was a 53-yard throw from Hunter Miles to Carter Fussman that gave the Aggies a 7-0 lead with 38 seconds left in the first quarter.
The second was just as impressive. After Hudson scores to take an 8-7 lead with just 14 seconds left in the half, the Aggies are up in the air again, as the Miles-to-Fussman connection clicked for a win of 56 yards on the Hudson’s 7-yard line with 4 seconds. on the clock.
After missing a 25-yard attempt on their previous possession, Beal City decided to score six, but saw halftime on an incomplete in the end zone.
“I thought I would take three, but we just had one that didn’t make it. I didn’t think karma was good, ”Gross said.
“If we hit him at halftime it might have been different. Maybe I called the right game, maybe I called the wrong game. I’m sure I’ll hit this forever.
As the pain of a league loss lasts, so will the idea that this year’s team have done their part to carry on Beal City’s footballing tradition.
“It feels good to leave a legacy for the younger ones to see what Beal City’s standards are,” said senior linebacker Wade Wilson.
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Highlights of Hudson’s win over Beal City in the Division 8 final
Hudson’s Box Score vs. Beal City