The Tri County football team is an eight seed in the district tournament after winning just two games during the regular season, but the Vikings find themselves preparing for a Division 5 district championship game on Friday.
"We started off in a big ole meeting," senior wide receiver and cornerback Cameren Friend said. "We looked at each other were like, 'When are we going to be a team guys?' And we all looked at each other and said, 'Now, now is the time!'"
Tri County didn't get their quarterback completely healthy until the regular-season finale. Tyler Tompkins broke his hand for the second straight season.
"It was an absolute heartbreak," Tompkins said. "But I knew I had to get through those tough times and prevail like I have been doing and just keep fighting."
Tompkins is making a difference. The Vikings have scored 73 points in the two playoff games, 60 of them in the first half.
"Tyler is just a game-changer," junior running back and linebacker Nate Lovell said. "He's fast enough to get out of the pocket, he can evade tacklers, he's strong, he's got a good arm. He's just a great quarterback."
"He's just that type of kid that the kids love him," head coach Phil Butler added. "He's a hard worker, he's hard-nosed, he's tough, makes plays, when it gets tough Tyler will look at you and say, 'Coach, I got you.'"
Only two #8 seeds in the entire state have won a playoff game this season.
The Vikings beat a pair of CSAA Gold foes, starting with Central Montcalm in the first round.
"We went in, played with emotion," Lovell said. "Our guys were all hype on the sideline we went in and beat them 33-7. And then Grant: did the same thing. Our line played great. Our line has been stepping up a lot lately."
Tri County hadn't won a playoff game in 16 years prior to this season and had never won two in the same year.
"Everyone is proud of us," Friend said. "Walking through the school, it felt like a whole entire movie. It was congratulations and nonstop talk about in the classrooms. It is awesome. The school is fired up, we're all fired up, the community is fired up."
"A dream come true," Tompkins added. "I couldn't ask for more out of anybody, out of the players, coaching staff. It is the first time in years since Tri County has won a playoff game, and I'm hoping that we can just keep it rolling into many years past us."
The Vikings will make the trip to Muskegon on Friday to play perennial power Oakridge and try to keep the dream alive.