It was a sloppy, rainy, slippery (and every other word you can think of) night at Memorial Stadium in Port Huron. Not only did the Port Huron Northern Huskies and the Port Huron High Big Reds have to battle each other in the Superbowl of Port Huron Friday Night but they also had to battle Mother Nature as well. The Big Reds walked away with a very lucky yet earned 20-14 victory over crosstown rivals – The Huskies. Any victory you can walk away from is a good one but let’s face it, luck had a lot to do with this one. Luck and one hell of a football player for PH. When most people go up against Mother Nature they usually come out on the short end. All except for one little tailback from Port Huron High. Chris Tatti took this Big Red team on his shoulders and made the biggest plays in the biggest game when his Big Reds needed it the most and in doing so, beat both the Huskies and the weather all in one swoop. The game actually started out being very entertaining but obviously as the rain continued to fall, that changed quickly. Both teams would lose 5 fumbles each and as mentioned, it got sloppy. Not until Tatti’s 65 yard scamper with just over 5 minutes remaining did PH take control of the football game. The ball was noticeably slippery as simple snaps to the QB were being dropped by both teams. It all came down to which team would keep their composure and make the least amount of mistakes in a game were mistakes were made more then regular set plays were.
The Big Reds opened the scoring and were in cruise control at one point at 14-0. Mike Johnson had a 10 yard reception to open the scoring and Steve Sawyer added a 25 yard reception in the 2nd quarter. After that the Big Reds highly touted offense stalled. Was it the weather? Was it the hard nosed Husky defense? Either way, the Husky D kept Northern in the football game and would soon be rewarded for it. RB – Colby Brooks had an impressive 32 yard TD gallop to cut the lead to 14-7 and eventually the Huskies tied the game. In fact, in the 4th quarter, PHN had a chance to take the lead and possibly win the game. Alas, the weather caused many Husky bobbled snaps and fumbles from both teams and in the end, the Big Reds capitalized when they had to the most.
There was certainly a lot riding on this game. Both programs came into the game with 2-0 records and now, PH walks away still undefeated, be it ever so lucky. Pre-game comments and “blackboard material” was also said as Port Huron’s defensive co-ordinator, Dave Tatti centered out Northern as a team and even as an area of town by which he claimed he hates to so much as even go to. Tatti also claimed that PHN isn’t a good team at all and that they were coming into this game at 2-0 only because their opponents in the first 2 games were weak. I personally have a problem with blackboard material and statements made of this type. I have no problem with disliking a team but to make your comments personal and hateful and to center out certain areas or people it’s obviously going too far. Lucky for coach Tatti, the Big Reds walked away with the victory. It’s pretty obvious that RB – Chris Tatti had a target on his back in this game because of these comments made but he’s the right guy to put the pressure on. Tatti seems to live for these moments and he proved once again that he can perform at his greatest level when his team needs it the most.
Getting back to these comments that were made by Tatti though, I just want to say how classy I think coach Casey Kuscera handled this situation. When asked to respond to these comments Kuscera praised both Tatti and the Big Reds all week long and even the Husky players made nothing of it. Husky LB – Alex Zondlack claimed that he found the comments comical. These situations often cause people to respond and make the situation even worse however the Huskies kept things classy, dignified and proper and I commend them for it. Big Red Head Coach, Ryan Mullins apologized for Tatti’s comments and that was also a classy move. PH is known as a very emotional sports school and sometimes things do get out of hand. That being said Port Huron certainly has the right coach to take them into the late 2000’s without a doubt.
It’s pretty rare to dominate a game on the ground the way that Northern did and still lose the game. An unbelievable 305 yards on the ground still wasn’t good enough due to the horrendous Husky turnovers that were clearly due to the wet weather conditions. Colby Brooks had 128 yards for the Huskies meanwhile the tremendous Chris Tatti had an unprecedented 219 of the 256 rushing yards that the Big Reds gained. Special credit should also be given to Northern QB – Tyler Thomas who was certainly an unsung hero type in this one, rushing for 106 yards. Indeed, Thomas took a licking and continued to keep on ticking. According to Big Reds QB – Jordan Galanos, “This was the most difficult game I’ve ever played in.” Galanos was 5 for 9 for 92 yards and 2 TD’s passing on the night for the Big Reds.
As much as the Big Reds were lucky to walk away with the victory, the Huskies were also very lucky to even be in the game at all. In the first half, PHN used up all 3 timeouts in a 3 minute span. What really shocked me is that Northern came out of a timeout and called another one. This isn’t like basketball. Timeouts are both rare and valuable in football and this was clearly unacceptable in a game that meant that much. Also, the Big Reds had 2 incredible plays that were both called back due to blocks in the back and even unsportsmanlike calls. One was an unreal interception by CB – Michael Johnson and the other was an incredible sideline to sideline run by Chris Tatti that was simply put, a human highlight film type of run. Both were called back. I have to say based on the instant replays I viewed up in the booth they were both correct calls but obviously this game could have gotten out of hand had those flags not been thrown. The win secured the #2 seeding in the area poll for the Big Reds (Marine City is #1). A win next week for the Big Reds could just move them to the #1 slot but that’s obviously a lot easy said then done. Next week, both teams have next to impossible games as coming to Memorial Stadium are the 4th ranked in state – Chippewa Valley Big Reds to take on Northern, meanwhile the Big Reds travel to Makomb Dakota to take on the 2 time state champions. That’s another reason why this game was so important and so special.
The Brick Fowler Trophy was presented to Ryan Mullins and the Big Reds after the game. This is the 2nd Brick Fowler Trophy for Mullins in as many seasons but Mullins might want to consider putting the trophy on Chris Tatti’s mantle this season. On a night where many great players took the field at Memorial Stadium in a rivalry game for the ages, in absolute horrendous weather conditions, one star truly stood out in a galaxy of heroes. His name is Chris Tatti. I still can’t believe he had 219 yards in the battle of Port Huron saving the day for the PH. WOW! It will be a long time before we ever witness a player like Tatti again!!!
NOTE: Pictures used in this write-up were from the Port Huron Times Herald. In order from top to bottom – Husky CB – Jovan Collier and Big Red WR – Michael Johnson, Big Red WR – Steve Sawyer, Big Red Head Coach – Ryan Mullins, Husky RB – Colby Brooks, Husky QB – Tyler Thomas and finally, star of the game, Big Red RB – Chris Tatti.