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Q&A with Former Ranger Football Player John Roark

A discussion with a member from the last FHC football team to win the Regional Championship.

Sam Hopkins, Sports Editor

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FHC Football has not beaten the Lowell Red Arrows in seventeen years.  With the Regional Finals coming up this Friday night, I thought that it’d be interesting to have some insight from someone who knows a whole lot about beating Lowell.  John Roark, a member of the 1994 FHC Varsity football team, took time to answer some questions before the biggest game of the decade takes place tomorrow evening. The Ranger’s 1994 football team was the last FHC team to make the playoffs and advance into the Regional Final.

Q: As I’m sure you probably know, FHC fell to Lowell in heartbreaking fashion earlier in the season. The Rangers will come up against the Red Arrows again this Friday for the Regional championship. What was it like winning a regional championship back when you played at FHC?

A: A lot has changed since 1994.  MHSAA now allows any 6-win teams to enter the playoffs.  By doing that, they have extended the season one extra game.  The game in 1994 was against Portage Central. 95We traveled there.  The teams before us really paved the way for what we expected from ourselves.  Our group was special. From when we were freshman we always practiced with the JV and Varsity giving us a much better look.  Winning a regional championship was exhilarating, knowing that what we had worked for all year was coming true.  I can truly say that game changed what people thought we could do, which was never a question to the team.

Q:Your team was able to make it all the way to the state championship in ’94. What did that mean to you, and what will a Ranger win this Friday mean to the FHC community?

A: Winners win because they believe they can win.  We have always talked about traditions.  It was unbelievable the amount of support from the community…..billboards, papers, marques, spirit busses.

Q: Your ’94 team was able to defeat the Red Arrows 32-12 your senior year. It’s been 17 years since the Rangers have defeated the Red Arrows.  How has Lowell transitioned from being a weak team in the past, to a now perennial powerhouse?

A: They have stuck to what they believe.  They are constantly in the weight room and have done very well with their athletes.

Q: Looking back at the years you played at FHC, which specific games and moments do you remember most?

A: Our losses my senior year (EGR twice and Farmington Hills Harrison in the finals).

Q: In your ’94 season your team made it all the way to the finals at Ford Field. Any message that you’d like to give to the current players about playing deep into the playoffs?

A: First off, there was no Ford Field; we played at the Pontiac Silverdome.  It’s hard but not just because of the competition, but also [the toll it takes on] your body.  Execute what you have learned, and believe in yourselves.

Q: FHC has never won a state championship in football.  How would the atmosphere surrounding the FHC football program change if they managed to win this season?

A: When state champs are crowned, it isn’t just what will happen for the football program. It affects the entire school community.  Honestly, it will affect all programs for years to come.  That student athlete that didn’t play is more apt to join a team to be part of a winning season or a state championship. Especially the younger kids.  

Q: Playing for FHC back in ’94, what was it like representing your school and community in the state championship at Pontiac Silverdome?

A: It was a true honor. Many of us received accolades throughout the year, but as a team, school, community, as an athlete, there is no other greater honor.

Q: Looking back at your FHC football career, what is one play or specific memory that you hold nearest to your heart?

A: I tried for just a moment to take a second or two and look around.  The lights glaring off from the grass, the mad amount of people, and one thing I did, and remember, is before every game I would tell my coaches that I loved them.  We were truly family.

Q: In your final season at FHC, you beat Portage Central in the regional finals, who this year’s team beat last week. With FHC having such a dominant season this year, do you think FHC football will return back to their winning habits even after this year’s senior class graduates?

A: That will all depend on what they want to accomplish.  If you think like a program it will continue. Believe and keep listening to the coaches; buy in. You will win.  If you question what is best, you will lose.  Thinking you or someone is bigger than the program, it will be a downward spiral.

Q: Any advice that you’d want to give the team before Friday night’s match up?

A: Again believe what you have been taught, and sacrifice your wants for the team’s needs.  You are only as strong as the weakest link in a chain.

Q: Any thoughts on a score prediction for Friday night?

A: Once a Ranger always a Ranger…..Rangers will out last the Red Arrows in the 4th quarter.

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