Tanner’s impressive postseason run helps lead Romeo to first state title
Detroit – Throughout Romeo’s postseason run, senior wide receiver Brad Tanner has been a man on a mission, helping lead Romeo into Saturday afternoon’s Division 1 state championship game.
And that didn’t change on Saturday against Cass Tech as the Bulldogs held off Cass Tech to win the first football state title in school history, 41-27, as Tanner scored three rushing scores, including the final touchdown of the game to seal the win for Romeo.
Tanner said that helping lead Romeo to a state championship had been something he had strived to do since he was a kid and said that to finally be able to win a state championship and score the touchdown that all but clinched the win was like a dream come true for him.
“It’s huge, to be able to have an impact in the state championship game, at the Division 1 level against great competition, it’s the best feeling ever,” he said. I’ll never forget this.”
Throughout Romeo’s playoff run, Tanner had been a force on both sides of the ball for Romeo, putting up big numbers and making highlight reel plays to lead the Bulldogs to Saturday’s game, which very few expected them to be playing in.
After helping Romeo top the two-time defending Division 1 state champions, Clarkston, in the first round of the playoffs, Tanner registered over 100 yards of total offense and a touchdown and an interception for Romeo as the Bulldogs topped Detroit Catholic Central in the regional final.
Then, in the Division 1 semifinal game against Grand Ledge, Tanner scored two touchdowns, including a highlight-reel one-handed catch that earned national attention, to lead the Bulldogs to a 48-21 win and into the state title game.
Romeo co-coach Curt Rienas said that he has seen Tanner take his game to another level during the postseason.
“I think in the last five weeks, everything is moving in slow motion for him,” he said. “He’s made some plays in this playoff run that people aren’t supposed to do on back to back plays like he did. He’s been outstanding.”
But Tanner noted that while he enjoyed the attention he garnered throughout the postseason wouldn’t have mattered to him without a win on Saturday.
“Honestly, if we didn’t win the state championship, all of that hype, that wouldn’t have meant anything to me,” he said. “Winning a state championship means the world to me, I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a little kid playing for the Junior Bulldogs, it means a lot.”
Tanner is listed as a wide receiver and considers himself as one as well, but made his biggest impact in the Romeo rushing attack on Saturday, rushing for 130 yards on 13 carries to go with his three touchdowns.
“I wanted it real bad,” Tanner said of wanting to win a state title. “I watched a lot of film, read my keys every single time, I made a play when we needed a play. I just wanted it so bad, I was hungry and I love the result.”
With Romeo playing on a stage it had never played on before, in the state championship game, Tanner helped calm the nerves early on for the Bulldogs, scoring on a 20-yard run on the first drive of the game to give Romeo an early 7-0 lead.
Rienas said that Tanner’s touchdown run early on was a big confidence boost for his team.
“That was the first time our kids have been in this kind of venue,” he said. “I think in the warmups, there were a lot of nerves, but I think it settled everybody in, it let them know, we can do this. So that was huge to start the game like that.”
The second of Tanner’s came early in the second quarter as he scored on a 31-yard touchdown run, that would push the Romeo lead to 19-7 with nine minutes left before halftime.
Rienas said that Tanner has shown all throughout the postseason that he can do it all, calling his senior running back one of, if not the best all-around player in the state.
“I would like to see if there’s a better all-around football player and athlete than him in the state,” he said. “He does it all, you look at last week (semifinal win over Grand Ledge), he has a huge hit where he flips a kid upside down, a one-handed touchdown catch and a hurdle, spin touchdown run, so he can do it all.”
Romeo finished the season with a 13-1 record and its first Division 1 state title in school history.