Ida passes Flat Rock to enter District football title game

ANN ARBOR – Grantham Nelson won the ball on the sidelines and headed for goal.

He wasn’t going to let anything get in his way.

“I took the ball and ran to the sideline,” said second-year Ida. “I knew the defender was no faster than me, so I continued.”

Nelson carefully tucked the ball into the net for a goal less than two minutes into the Division 3 district semifinals at Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard on Tuesday.

He scored another goal just over two minutes later and the Blue Streaks were on course for an 8-0 win over Flat Rock that gave them a berth in Thursday’s District title game.

Nelson was not Ida’s top scorer in the game. His teammate Evan Schmitz scored three goals.

But the timing of Nelson’s goals was crucial.

It was important for a young Ida side who have struggled to score goals this season to get into the table early.

“In the District’s opener, you want to get an early lead,” Nelson said. “I don’t mean you want to crush the other team, but you want to make them feel bad so they don’t come back.”

Ida’s coach Tim Allen agreed with Nelson’s assessment.

“We’ve had problems scoring all year,” he said. “That’s mainly why we struggled. We’re a pretty good defensive team. When you score a goal early, you’re not that tense.

Ida has just experienced the greatest season in school history. The Blue Streaks went 12-3 in 2020 and won the Lenawee County Athletic Association with a perfect 10-0 record.

Tuesday’s victory tied their record this season at 8-8.

“We graduated half of our rookies (from last year),” Nelson said. “It has been a year of reconstruction.

Many of Ida’s best passer were among the players lost to graduation.

“Evan and Grantham were our top two goal scorers last year,” Allen said. “We have lost our main assistants. We didn’t have the confidence to give them the ball this year. It has been a challenge.

Davin Slater scored twice and Ryan Horn had one for Ida on Tuesday and Asher Hamm and Cole Angerer shared the shutout in goal. Angerer and Dillon Holycross had three assists each and Caleb Ramsey and Caleb Manor recorded one each.

Photo gallery:Jefferson’s football in the district semifinals

“We were clicking today,” Nelson said. “The ball was very fast on the grass. It was our first grass game of the year.

Ida qualifies for the district final at 5 p.m. Thursday to face the host team.

Jefferson's defense, led by Gabriel Gelson and Michael Armetta (18), defends a corner kick in an 8-0 loss to Ann Arbor Gabriel Richard in the Division 3 district semifinals to Gabriel Richard on Tuesday.

Gabriel Richard knocked out Jefferson 8-0 in Tuesday’s first semi-final.

The season ended for Flat Rock and Jefferson with identical scores, but both coaches see a bright future for their schedules.

“We’re a young team,” said Flat Rock coach Sean Sturgeon, whose team finished at 3-15. “We have a lot of freshmen. We are a developing team. We will be a team to be reckoned with in the future.

Jefferson’s Rob Kull feels the same about his team.

“They’re ranked # 14 in the state,” he said of Richard. “They played a good part of the game without a goal. They were a better team than us. There is no shame in losing against them. I liked our hustle and bustle.

Sturgeon and Kull use similar strategies to attract talent to their programs. They recruit athletes from other sports.

Jefferson, who finished at 5-13-1, has three basketball players and four wrestlers on his roster.

“This is our best record in about 10 years,” said Kull. “The week before the season, I had 10 guys, then I had 12 at the start of the season. We ended up with 17. The guys did a good job recruiting their friends.

Sturgeon praised the play of rookie Mitchell Smith, who led the Rams with 9 goals, and goaltender Grady Baker.

“I definitely see a bright future,” he said. “The guys really came together.”

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