The Red Devils fought through some adversity after their early success seemed to spiral downward and they came limping in at the end of the regular season with three straight losses. Their playoff status, once a near given after a 5-1 start, looked as though it would fade away in the dust of disappointment.
After the loss to Tri County Coach Jack Nummerdor knew there was a chance they could still get in. It would be a close call either way but it wasn’t quite over yet.
And they got in. The Devils might not have busted through the front door with the bravado of an undefeated team showing up to do business but they got an invite just the same and would be facing Martin a team they had only gone up against once and that was a non-con game last season.
And like the season that preceded this game it was a struggle. A one point victory made possible by inspired line play, some key turnovers by the defense and the discovery of that little extra it takes to win a close football game.
Coach Jack Nummerdor:
“What a great thing for the community of Holton, these kids, and the students at Holton High School! It has been a wild ride going from thinking you are done to moving on to week 11.
“Very proud of the way we handled the line of scrimmage. Draven Wyant, Anthony Crabtree, Colby Younts, Garrett Lulofs, Kolton Plekes, Nathan Slowik, and Johnny Dominish are the hogs that got it done up front. Both sides of the ball we felt we did a great job. Ricky Enders is a kid that hasn’t played football in a few years and comes up with two Interceptions and some crucial Pass break ups.
“It was a great team win and a typical MHSAA playoff football game. Our kids have had the feeling of the season being over and we know we didn’t like it. Getting in and playing tonight was a redo to our season and we feel great about the way we played tonight!”
Four Red Devils crossed the goalline as Aaron Heron, Derek Pouch, Drew Krygstad and Kaleb Kitschka each ran for six.
Arriving home the team received a late night escort through town courtesy of the local volunteer firefighters and their fans waved them in with the occasional “On Holton” being shouted into the cool autumn night.
Four times during the season the Devils had taken the field against teams that made it into the post season and four times they came away with a loss.
Martin would be the 5th but this group of Red Devils was not going to let that happen on this night and they came out on top against a tough Clipper squad playing on their home turf.
So now it’s another lengthy bus ride south, this time to Decatur down in Van Buren county.
The Raiders are from the rugged Southwest 10 a conference with a non-con record of 10-2 and four teams still playing on. On Friday Decatur beat Climax-Scotts and for the Panthers it was the last time they would take the field as an 11 man squad. Beginning next year they will follow the trend of many D-8 school and migrate to the 8 man game.
The Devils will be facing the Raiders with a boatload of momentum and their eyes on extending their second season another week. A win would send this Holton team to uncharted territory with a game 12 for the first time in school history.