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Merritt Academy dominates Akron-Fairgrove, 62-20 PHOTO GALLERY

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Seniors play final home game for Mustangs

There’s no crying in baseball. At least that is what Tom Hanks said in the movie “A League of Their Own.”

While nobody was shedding tears on the football field adjacent to Merritt Academy in New Haven after the Mustangs’ overwhelmed visiting Akron-Fairgrove, 62-20, there was definitely some sentiment.

“It is emotional,” said Josh Braden, a senior on the Merritt squad.

Braden is just one of three 12th graders on the Mustangs’ roster. Friday marked the final game they’ll play on the home field.

Braden has attended the school on Havenridge Road since he was in kindergarten.

Zach Berry is another senior on the team. He also started at Merritt Academy as a kindergartener.

“I wanted to play football, and we didn’t have a football program at the time, so I transferred to a middle school in New Haven so I could play,” said Berry.

It was four years ago when the school instituted its 8-man football program.

“I came back here. I was a ninth grader. Honestly, it was like coming home. That is how it feels,” said Berry.

Jack Walters is the third senior on the team. Unlike his teammates, most of his school years haven’t been spent at Merritt. He transferred from L’Anse Creuse North. This is his second year at Merritt.

Fittingly, all of the seniors scored at least one touchdown against Akron-Fairgrove including Walters, who is listed at 6-4, 295. He plays offensive and defensive line.

He put the last touchdown on the board, a one-yard bull rush in the fourth quarter. Earlier in the game, he also caught a pass from quarterback John Basile for a two-point conversion. Walters also had an interception.

Braden ran for three touchdowns. Those scoring rushes were 65 yards, 12 yards and four yards. He also ran for a two-point conversion and caught a pass for two points.

Berry was no slouch, either. His touchdown runs measured 73 and two yards.

“These guys are our leaders,” said Kevin Bennett, the Merritt coach. “They are our go-to guys on offense and on defense, they make the big plays.”

Basile, a junior quarterback, scored on a two-yard run. He also connected with Tim Shamblin on an 11-yard TD pass. Basile passed for four two-point conversions and ran for another.

Akron-Fairgrove scored its first two touchdowns in the second quarter. Its final score came in the fourth quarter.

“We executed the game plan,” said Bennett. “We knew that Akron-Fairgrove would come out and play the passing game, which is something we hadn’t seen much this season.”

Merritt is 5-2 and both of those losses have come against Owendale-Gagetown. Both schools compete in the Mid-Michigan 8-Man Football League.

The Mustangs have two regular-season games remaining. They’ll play at Caseville next week, and close the 2015 regular-season schedule at Hale. In an earlier meeting, Merritt Academy defeated Hale, 72-60.

Akron-Fairgrove fell to 3-4.

Last Updated: 10/9/2015 9:10:35 PM EST