By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Drake Harris may not have expected the full force of the performance he put up Saturday to cap an incredible junior season for Grand Rapids Christian.
But he had a pretty good idea at the start that it could turn into a special night.
When Orchard Lake St. Mary’s attempted to cover him with just one player – and continued to do so frequently throughout the Division 3 Final at Ford Field – the 6-foot-4, 180-pound Harris found himself in a dream come true.
“I kinda figured they would come out like that and play me like that. My coach knew that, and he just put me in the right position to make plays,” Harris said. “And I was happy they came out like that.
“I’m not the type to brag on myself. But when I see that, man-to-man coverage, that’s my dream. I love when people go man, and no safety over the top. It’s just me and the DB. The better man wins.”
Harris gets a Second Half High 5 this week after probably the most victorious day in his young career.
He grabbed eight passes for an MHSAA Finals record 243 yards and a touchdown as the Eagles beat St. Mary’s 40-37 in overtime to claim their first football championship.
Saturday’s numbers gave him, unofficially, 91 catches for 2,015 yards and 25 scores this fall. While those totals still must be confirmed for record book purposes, the yardage will be the most in MHSAA history for one season and rank 12thnationally. His yards per game this fall will rank fourth nationally and his yards per catch sixth. His catches will rank fourth in MHSAA history and his touchdown catches second.
Harris has committed to sign next fall with Michigan State for basketball and then the following February for football too. He’s expected to do big things again this winter for a Grand Rapids Christian basketball team that advanced to the Class A Quarterfinals last season.
Hoops always was his sport – he wasn't sure at one point that he’d even play football in high school. But Harris said Spartans men’s basketball coach Tom Izzo told him he loves players who are on their football teams as well. And Harris said he is starting to realize his football future might be the brighter of the two.
Saturday couldn't have hurt that observation.
Harris caught passes of 49 and 22 yards before hauling in a 74-yard scoring strike early in the second quarter. He had an 85-yarder called back during the third quarter, but caught passes of 24 and 38 yards to set up a touchdown early in the fourth. He then caught his final three passes during the team’s final possession of regulation, gaining a total of 36 yards in helping to set up Joel Schipper’s 28-yard game-tying field goal with four seconds left.
One catch will live on in Finals memory for years to come. In the fourth quarter, Harris went so high as to nearly jump over his defensive back. The defender tackled his legs mid-air, dumping Harris back-first into the turf. But Harris held on, and the Eagles continued to move.
After gaining more than 1,000 yards receiving as a sophomore too, Harris will need only 609 as a senior to set that MHSAA career record. He needs 66 catches and four for touchdowns to tie those records. And if a record was kept for highlight-reel catches, he might already be the holder.
“People don’t necessarily think he’s tough or something. But to have a guy go up 3-4 feet in the air and get flipped, catch the ball and land on his back or head; that’s pretty tough in my book,” Grand Rapids Christian senior quarterback Alex VanDeVusse said. “I’d take him on my team every single day. He’s amazing.”
PHOTO: Drake Harris went high to make this grab during the fourth quarter of Saturday's Division 3 Final against Orchard Lake St. Mary's. (Click for more from Terry McNamara Photography.)