Given such high pre-season expectations, many were quick to write off the Albion College football team (5-3, 5-0 MIAA) as pretenders after their 0-3 start.
But those detractors have fallen by the wayside as Albion has stormed to five straight victories. In a 28-14 win over Adrian College on Oct. 28, the Britons clinched a share of the MIAA Championship.
“For the team to be able to shut up those people who said we can’t do it, that was great,” Briton receiver Zach Brewer, Adrian sophomore, said.
The Britons shut down Adrian’s high powered offense, allowing just 14 points and forcing five interceptions. The Bulldog’s star receiver Justin Hemm was held to just one catch for four yards.
“Our defense has been playing well all year and they get better each week,” head coach Craig Rundle said. “They did a good job of pressuring the quarterback and forcing him into some bad throws.”
Albion linebacker John Lesinski was named MIAA Defensive Player of the Week for his performance. He recorded 12 tackles, including one tackle for loss. He also had an interception. Lesinski has been a starter for three years, and Rundle calls him one of the Briton’s most consistent performers.
“John’s emerged as a leader on defense,” Rundle said. “He’s a real emotional kid and I think that rubs off on some of the other guys and gets them going.”
Perhaps the biggest play of the game was a 4th quarter interception by safety Derrick Jackson, Allegan 5th year senior. He returned the interception 35 yards for a touchdown. It was the final score of the night, and it gave the Britons lead a 14-point cushion.
“That was definitely huge,” Lesinski said. “We were going crazy after that.”
The Briton’s fans traveled well for the game, and players on the field definitely noticed. The official number of spectators in attendance at the game was 2,640.
“There were a lot of students. A lot of guys from the fraternities came,” Brewer said. “There were probably more fans for us there than there were for Adrian.”
For Brewer, the game was even more special since it was played in his hometown of Adrian. Brewer led the Britons in receiving with six catches for 80 yards.
“It was great,” Brewer said. “I know a lot of the people there were rooting for me. It means a lot.”
In their biggest game of the year, the Britons stepped up to the challenge. The team’s last MIAA Championship was in 2005. Albion finished second in the conference in 2009 and 2010.
“It’s the most excitement and heart we’ve played with all year,” Lesinski said. “It’s definitely the best game I have been a part of at Albion for sure.”
Photo courtesy of Dave Lawrence