By Scott McNeish / Adrian Daily Telegram
Ain’t no mountain high enough to keep the Hudson football team from Ford Field.
The Tigers traveled one of the most difficult roads imaginable on their way to the Division 7 championship game. Three straight undefeated opponents: Reading, Mendon and Ubly. Three straight contenders.
Three straight Hudson wins.
The Tigers certainly earned the right to play Traverse City St. Francis for the state crown.
“We’re a tough team, too, and we knew we could do it,” running back Grant Benschoter said. “We take challenges head on.”
Said fellow running back Drew Milligan: “We do better when it’s harder. Then you can’t let down at all, and you have to keep it up the whole game. It helps a lot to play good teams.”
Clearly. Hudson beat eight undefeated opponents this season, and it also went 8-0 against playoff teams.
“The kids have tremendous character, and that’s why we’re in this spot,” Hudson athletic director Jeremy Beal said. “That’s why we could play with Blissfield and Onsted and Stockbridge and Mendon. Maybe we’ve had more talented teams here, but this group has taken on all comers.”
In Saturday’s 26-6 win over Ubly, the Tigers faced their toughest assignment yet.
They played a team on a mission, a motivated group looking for a second straight state finals appearance, a team itching for a finals rematch with St. Francis.
No small task. The Bearcats held a glaring advantage in experience and motive.
But Hudson, once again, aced the test.
“We want challenges,” tight end/defensive end Chris Aguirre said. “We play above them. We play through them.”
Nathan Smith’s fumble return for a score — one of Saturday’s most crucial plays — exemplified each Hudson postseason triumph. A hard-charging, talented opponent rushed at the Tigers. They stopped his progress. Then they snatched the ball and pulled away.
“We stepped up and did what we do,” Milligan said.
Another daunting hurdle awaits Hudson next Saturday. St. Francis, which beat Ravenna 34-7 in its semifinal, has advanced to the state finals in five of the past seven seasons.
In fact, the Gladiators beat Hudson in its last finals appearance in 2003.
But considering the way the Tigers have played, with their bring-it-on attitude in the face of adversity, does anyone doubt Hudson can climb Mount St. Francis?