Trojans Place an Exclamation Point on Superb Senior Night

Saturday, October 26, 2019, 9:01 am
By: 
Mark Meyer

“Coach (Bill) Feraco always uses the right combination of words to get me pumped,” East Lansing senior T’Senre Gray said after Friday night’s victory over Okemos. 

Update (9 p.m. Sunday): East Lansing (7-2) will face DeWitt (7-2) in the opening round of the MHSAA Division 3 football playoffs at 7 p.m. Friday at Lynn C. Adams Stadium. In week five this season the Trojans defeated DeWitt 21-2 in a game that was halted by threatening weather and then resumed the following day. DeWitt won both meetings between the two teams last year, the second of which determined the district championship.


On their night, the last home game of the 2019 regular season, East Lansing’s senior football players were determined to make a statement: with a share of the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue division on the line and the playoffs just around the corner, there was little time to waste Friday night at Lynn C. Adams Stadium.

Senior noseguard-tailback-special teams sniper T’Senre Gray set the tone with a pad-cracking tackle on the kickoff, senior quarterback Sam Busch lit up the night sky with another 200-yard passing performance (including two touchdowns), and the Trojans scored on their first seven possessions en route to a 54-0 title-clinching victory – the Trojans’ first football conference crown in the CAAC Blue since 2011.

“Coach (Bill) Feraco always uses the right combination of words to get me pumped,” said a jubilant Gray afterward. “He gets me in the right zone to get ready for the game.”

Busch, who completed 10 of his 12 passing attempts, was a bit more matter-of-fact with his assessment.

“It was our goal at the beginning of the year and it feels really great to accomplish it,” Busch said.

The left-handed throwing Busch led two quick scoring drives in the first quarter, as the Trojans used Gray and senior fullback Jamar Mills (5-foot-11, 229 pounds) to bulldoze the middle of the Okemos defense. Mills steamrolled his way to a four-yard touchdown run with 6:34 left in the first quarter, and three minutes later Busch scored on a one-yard keeper after the Trojan defense had forced a turnover on Okemos’ second possession.

East Lansing sophomore linebacker Ahmed Kareem jarred the ball loose on a running play from the Okemos 48 yard line, and senior cornerback Louis Booth quickly pounced on the fumble at the 39.

“It feels great to know that we earned it, right here on this field,” Gray said.

East Lansing completed the regular season with a 7-2 record, 5-1 in the CAAC Blue. DeWitt defeated Waverly 49-6 Friday night and Holt edged Grand Ledge 42-37 to also finish with 5-1 marks in the CAAC Blue.

Snap decision leads to touchdown

Busch connected for two touchdown passes in the second quarter: one for 33 yards to sophomore receiver Mason Woods down the right sideline, the other for 68 yards to junior receiver Andrel Anthony down the left sideline after having called an audible at the line of scrimmage.

“We had what we call a ‘12-yard stop’ lined up, and I knew the cornerback would bite on it,” Busch said, meaning that the defender would overcommit and be susceptible to a longer route down the sideline, “so I called a stutter, let it go … and it worked out.”

East Lansing has outscored its last three opponents (Everett, Waverly and Okemos) by a combined margin of 135-7.

“I’m happy for the kids,” Feraco said. “You know, you talk about it all the time, about being part of something a little bigger than yourself, and that the most gratifying feeling is when you’re a part of that and you achieve some of the things you set out to do.”

Five-foot-six Trojan tailback Asher Gregory (21) gains a couple of more feet in height while being congratulated by teammate Jamar Mills after scoring a third quarter touchdown Friday night. 

Sophomore tailback Asher Gregory scored on an 18-yard run early in the third quarter and junior kicker Emory Roberts’ fifth extra point of the night gave the Trojans a 35-point lead. At that point the “running clock” rule took effect and Feraco was able to empty his bench and get some playing time for just about everyone.

The icing on the cake came with under a minute to play when senior defensive back Dominic Alvera intercepted a pass at the Okemos 30 yard line and returned it for the Trojans’ final touchdown.

“We’ll talk about it a little bit more (today) but I want to make sure they absorb all of this,” said a happily satisfied Feraco, as he watched his players accept congratulations from family and friends afterward. “It shouldn’t be just a fleeting moment and, ‘Oh, well, here we go to the next thing.’ ”

East Lansing will find out Sunday who it will open the playoffs against and where next Friday night.

“We want to make sure we stay balanced and understand that now it’s a different type of season,” Feraco said. “The finality concept is one that I want them to understand and embrace, That now it’s survive and advance. In order to do that, we have to prepare well.”

But first, savor a Senior Night triumph and a league championship that doesn’t come around all too often.

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