It was déjà vu all over again, with apologies to Yogi Berra.
The Martin High School varsity football team Saturday made its second straight eight-man playoff appearance in the state semifinals, only to lose to the top-rated team.
The Clippers last year lost to state champion Colon, the only time they tasted defeat in all of 2019. This time they lost 47-12 to the No. 1 eight-man team in the state, Adrian Lenawee Christian, once again the only time they’ve been bested on the gridiron.
There were two huge differences in the ballgame — Lenawee’s ability to stop Martin’s customarily effective running game and a convincing performance by Eight-Man Player of the Year Jameson Chesser, the Cougars’ all-everything on offense.
Martin opened the contest in impressive fashion with a 24-yard run by sophomore Karter Ribble and a 41-yard TD shovel pass from QB Gabe Meyers to receiver Mitchell Jager. But Lenawee recovered quickly from the shock of being down 6-0, something it obviously was not accustomed to.
On their first play from scrimmage, the Cougars got a huge lift from Chesser, who sprinted 62 yards for a touchdown, breaking tackles all along the way. He booted the extra point and hometown Adrian squad was up 7-6.
Things went further south for the Clippers after that.
Lenawee recovered a Clipper fumble just 26 yards away from the end zone and quarterback Landon Gallant hooked up with Elliott Addleman for a 33-yard scoring strike on a fourth down and 15 play.
So, with the game less than four minutes old, the two teams had scored three touchdowns.
Martin failed to generate enough offense to get a first down and short punt put the Cougars just 32 yards away, and Chesser took care of that journey on the next play to put them up 19-6.
Though they had a couple of offensive flashes in their next series, the Clippers were thwarted twice by sacks from lineman Brandon Scott. Chesser wedged over the goal from the two, and it was 25-6.
Martin put together its other touchdown drive late in the second quarter, mostly with passing heroics by Meyers, connecting with Ribble on 30-yard and 32-yard aerials, and then firing a 17-yard TD pass to Charley Martin with only about two minutes left in the half.
But Chesser claimed his fourth personal touchdown for the afternoon from four yards out with just 0:03 showing on the clock to send the Cougars to the intermission lockerroom with a 32-12 lead.
For a few brief shining moments it looked the Clippers might be turning the tables when they forced Lenawee to punt at midfield to start the third period. But Chesser booted the ball down to the one-yard line, from where Meyers clicked with Martin a 40-yard pass to get out of danger.
But from there they stalled on downs and it didn’t take long for Chesser to tote the pigskin 37 yards for his fifth touchdown of the day.
Gallant added the final TD with a six-pointer to Addleman to make the final score.
Meyers and Brayden Eckman later combined efforts for a couple of key stops on Chesser in the fourth quarter during a goal-line stand.
Not long afterward, Meyers tossed a 41-yard pass to Martin in another heroic dig out of a hole to get to midfield, but once again, that was all she wrote.
The Clippers completed the season with an 8-2 record, but one of the losses was by forfeit. Speaking of that, Suttons Bay won over Indian River Inland Lakes by Covid-19-related forfeit, so that will be the Cougars’ opponent in the state championship next Saturday. If they play like they did in Adrian against the Clippers, they’ll make it two years in a row that Martin’s only loss on the field was to the best in Michigan.