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Portland St. Patrick football ready for 8-player state final

The Shamrocks have qualified for their third Division 2 state championship in the last four years.
Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 6:26 PM EST
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PORTLAND, Mich. (WILX) - This team has a special bond. The 16 young men have a whole lot of heart.

“They’re definitely characters. We have a lot of fun,” said Portland St. Patrick head coach Pat Russman. “It’s fun to come and coach and know that the coaching staff and the players are just going to enjoy the game and the time that they have.”

Portland St. Patrick couldn’t have advanced to the state finals without the growth and perseverance of every single player during this unprecedented season.

“Becoming a better athlete, becoming a better Catholic, becoming a better person,” said Russman. “There’s just a lot of things they’re building on each day and it comes out on the field.”

The two-month pause gave them extra time to grow and develop. You could see all that hard work last Saturday when they beat Kinde North Huron 34-12 to move on to the championships.

“They’re ready. Waiting for those weeks and not knowing what’s going to happen...,” said Russman. “For them just to be resilient and just want to play.”

Leading the way for the Shamrocks was their running game. Jacobe Hayes-Dunning had 131 yards of total offense - 16 carries for 81 yards, two touchdowns, and a 50-yard touchdown reception.

“I’m usually not the person they call on to make the big plays because we have other running backs and receivers,” said Hayes-Dunning. “But on Saturday, I think I was a big part of the team.”

“Jacobe has just stepped up. He gets a little more confidence every week and he’s just a great athlete to begin with,” said Russman. “Happy for him, it’s fun to see the kid succeed and he’s on that path right now.”

Although they lost in 2017 and 2019 championship games, St. Patrick is more than happy to go back again.

“Football has been something that’s let these guys keep going and just enjoying the season for what it is and for the gift that it is,” said Russman.

The title game will be at the Legacy Center in Brighton and streamed on FOX Sports Detroit. We will also have highlights on the WILX Sports Blitz Saturday night.

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