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FOOTBALL SEMIFINALS: Detroit Country Day in good spirits as semifinal approaches

Yellowjackets ready to sting Saginaw Swan Valley

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BEVERLY HILLS — All of the players at Birmingham Detroit Country Day’s football practice were in good spirits on Thursday afternoon.

Although it might have had something to do with the sunny skies and reasonable temperatures, guys like Poet Thomas, Richie Wilson and Tyler Wiegers made it known that they’re just excited to still be playing in the middle of November.

The Yellowjackets, who beat down Grosse Ile last week, 47-14, to claim a regional title, will attempt to keep their state championship hopes alive on Saturday at 1 p.m. with a Division 4 semifinal tilt against Saginaw Swan Valley at Ortonville Brandon High School.

“I think this year’s team is a unique group,” Country Day head coach Dan MacLean said. “We’ve continued to improve every week. As a coach, that’s what you want. But I really think these guys can sense the opportunity that they have. They’ve got a chance to make this a really special season.”

It’s the first time since 2008 that the Yellowjackets will have the opportunity to play for a ticket to Ford Field. MacLean and his boys are ready for the game, but he expects Swan Valley to come out hungry.

The Vikings (10-2) have cruised to this point in the playoffs, scoring 122 points in their three games.

They were led all season by running back Alex Grace. The sophomore standout rushed for more than 2,000 yards this year, picking up that milestone last week against Croswell-Lexington after he tallied more than 200 yards on the ground.

“They’re a hard-nosed team,” MacLean said of Swan Valley. “They’re playing good football, like any team that makes it to the semifinals. They’ve also got a really dangerous running back.”

Country Day (10-2), however, boasts that same kind of offensive firepower. With a senior and three juniors on the roster that are being coveted by Division 1 colleges, the Yellowjackets will certainly look to them for contributions.

Wilson, a junior tailback, has rushed for more than 1,200 yards this season, including 135 yards from scrimmage and four touchdowns last week in the Yellowjackets’ win over Grosse Ile.

“We know that on Saturday, we have to just come out and dominate,” Wilson said. “We need to be aggressive and have that winning mindset.”

Along with Wilson, junior quarterback Tyler Wiegers is poised to help Country Day try and make history. The Yellowjackets’ offense has been extremely balanced this season, throwing for more than 2,000 yards and, as a team, rushing for nearly the same total.

“We’re really focused right now,” Wiegers said. “We met before the season started and decided that we want to win a state championship. We’ve had great support from the school, and this run has been a lot of fun.”

And then there’s Thomas. The 6-foot-7, 300-pound senior lineman has been one of the most recruited players in the state and is possibly the most thrilled about the prospect of playing for a chance to go to Ford Field.

“We’re looking forward to coming out and playing our butts off for this semifinals game,” Thomas said. “If we don’t give it our all, we’re not going to get to play tomorrow. We’ve come too far to lose it now. We want this game.”

If Country Day can pull through on Saturday, the Yellowjackets will play for the Division 4 state title against either Comstock Park or Grand Rapids South Christian.

Last Updated: 11/15/2012 8:13:32 PM EST

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