Herrington, Harrison reach 18th state final after Hawks defeat Riverview, 21-0, in D3 semifinal
Rochester Hills — Farmington Hills Harrison might be closing, but the football team continues to add to the school’s storied football history.
The Hawks and coach John Herrington will have a chance to add to their state record 13 state championships after defeating Riverview, 21-0, in a Division 3 semifinal at Rochester High on Saturday.
“I didn’t think it was going to happen,” Herrington said of reaching the state finals. “It’s great to have a shot again. It’s the most fun week for the players in their life, something they’ll never forget.”
The state finals appearance is Harrison’s first since they won the Division 2 state championship in 2010, and 18th overall
Harrison (10-3) was able to advance to the finals on Nov. 25 at Ford Field thanks to some terrific red zone defense.
The Hawks stuffed Riverview on two separate fourth-and-goal plays from the 1-yard-line to turn the ball over on downs. The first came with 3:34 left in the first quarter, the second with 2:27 left in the second.
Both goal-line stops came over long Riverview drives that combined took more than 15 minutes off the clock.
“Just fantastic, all the defensive coaches did a great job,” Herrington said. “I never believed we could stop them on the 1-yard line and we did it twice. We couldn’t get the ball away from them, they were well executed.
“We had 14 plays in the first half that was it. But when we had it we did something with it.”
Harrison’s Joe Stevens rushed for a 43-yard touchdown on a reverse on the Hawks’ first drive of the game.
Junior Roderick Heard put the Hawks up 14-0 when he broke a 64-yard touchdown run with 11:48 left in the half.
Heard rounded out the scoring when he took a screen pass from Noah Hendricks 30 yards for a touchdown with 4:40 left in the game.
“Heard’s just getting better and better every week,” Herrington said. “He was being recruited as a defensive back. I told him I think you’re going to be a running back. I think he’s got there.”
Harrison High School is set to close in 2019 and Herrington, who has coached 48 years at Harrison, is seriously contemplating retirement when it does. But before that happens, the current group of Hawks are determined to add to the legacy of Harrison and Herrington.
“It really means everything,” Heard said of reaching the finals. “We have been thinking about this since the beginning of the season, we knew we were going to make it. We’ve worked hard since the summer, doing sprints, up-downs, practicing, everything. We watched film every day.
“To be a part of the tradition and legacy of Harrison is great, and shows even though our school is closing Harrison still has the best football program.”
The Pirates finish their historic season 11-2 and won their first regional championship since 2002.