In Play with Tom Markowski

Canton comes together as a team after flower pot incident, faces Cass Tech in Division 1 semifinal

Football   | Tom Markowski

State Champs! Sports Network

 

Canton – If it wasn’t for a smashed flower pot Canton just might be where it’s been the last eight years – on the sidelines as spectators for the semifinals.

Instead the Chiefs (10-2) will play Detroit Cass Tech (10-2) on Saturday in a Division 1 semifinal at Troy Athens at 1 p.m. Should Canton get past Cass Tech it would advance to just the program’s second state final.

It was four days since Canton lost to Plymouth, 31-20, dropping the Chiefs to 5-2 on the season with their second consecutive loss. Traditionally, coach Tim Baechler and his wife Julie host a team dinner on Wednesdays and despite the disappointing loss this dinner was expected to be like all of the others.

It wasn’t.

Unbeknownst to Tim Baechler one of his five captains accidentally bumped Julie’s flower pot that sat for years, without being disturbed, on their porch. The dirt and flowers mingled with the broken pieces on the Baechler driveway.  Without saying a word the players walked innocently into the Baechler home, ate dinner and left.

After dinner Tim Baechler walked out and saw the mess. Dumbfounded he went to his wife and asked if she knew about it. Julie said she did and that it was nothing to be concerned about.

“I just blew up,” Tim Baechler said. “They came in, ate dinner and said nothing?”

He was still steaming that Thursday morning as he went to school. Someone, or better yet, many of his players were about to be on the receiving end of his wrath.

And at lunchtime, not that he needed it, Baechler received some backing for what was about to be a tirade.

“Julie calls me at noon and said, you’re right,” Baechler said. “That somebody should have said something.”

Before the team got dressed for the last practice before their Kensington Lakes Activities Association crossover with Livonia Stevenson, Baechler and his staff had a meeting. Except this meeting there would be just one person talking.

“We had a come-to-Jesus meeting,” Baechler said. “I let them have it. It’s about accountability. I’m not one to blame the kids for a loss or a missed tackle. We’ll look at film and see somebody miss a tackle, and I’ll say to my coaches, we have to do a better job. We’re the ones to blame.

“Not this time. I told them they were the problem. I told them it’s about accountability and responsibility.”

Baechler didn’t single any one player out. The speech was for all of the players. He knew which captain did it. But that wasn’t the point. The point was all of the players who knew about the flower pot should have owned up. It’s about being a team and each member being responsible for his or her actions, and his or her responsibilities.

That Friday Canton waxed Stevenson, 49-7. The Chiefs haven’t lost since and have played their best football since the loss to Plymouth.

And the flower pot? There’s a happy ending there, too. Baechler said his coaches replaced it and it looks better than ever.