A Michigan team captured the Division 5 state title on Saturday thanks to the most subtle — and perhaps the most clever — trick play of the year.
With the game tied 7-7, West Catholic (Grand Rapids) huddled around the sideline and appeared to deliberate between attempting a 36-yard field goal or taking another offensive snap against Menominee. And when West Catholic trotted back on to the field it lined up in field goal formation.
But, as noted by the Detroit Free-Press and MaxPreps, there was just one trick: a solitary West Catholic player was sitting just inside the sideline, waiting for the play to start.
When the snap came, Bryce Witham took off like a flash down the sideline. The sideline camouflage gambit worked, and when West Catholic placekicker Travis Hoving took the direct snap, he sent a pass down the sideline and hit Witham in near-perfect stride as the receiver ran to the end zone.
For anyone wondering, the play was deemed legal by the Michigan referees, who rejected Menominee coach Joe Noha’s protestations that Witham hadn’t joined his team’s huddle.
"They were out there and then they made an exchange and that kid sat there on the sideline and blended in really well," Noha told the Free-Press. "I guess, I don’t know what the interpretation is, rule-wise. I thought you had to be in the huddle to be a participant. I don’t know. I asked the official and apparently it’s a legal play. Our kids didn’t see him and that obviously was a big play."
The touchdown was a major turning point in the game, opening up the offensive floodgates for a contest that ended in a 27-14 victory for the Grand Rapids squad. The difference was the momentum created by the trick play, and West Catholic's confidence in calling it at such a critical point in the game. After all, Witham had dropped the ball on multiple attempts in practice.
Perhaps it was karma from the play's namesake that carried Witham to the end zone when the "Lou Lou" call came in from the sideline.
"It's a play we practice; I went over it with the officials before the game," West Catholic coach Dan Rohn told the Free-Press. "I explained we'd be running it if we got the opportunity. It's a play we believe in ... My mom passed away 25 years ago ... We nicknamed that play after her and the kids executed it perfectly."
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