TROY — As their 2008 football season unfolded, the Dearborn Fordson Tractors probably felt like the luckiest team in the state of Michigan.
Fordson players huddle up during a break in the action at Fordson's state semi-final game with Lake Orion at Troy Athens High School on Nov. 21. PHOTOS: Nick Meyer/TAAN
Quarterback Ali Baidoun rolled out and looked to the sidelines to complete a pass on the first play of the game but instead found Dragons cornerback Joey Chankthakhot, who took it back 26 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Things went downhill from there as Fordson fumbled and Lake Orion marched down the field to make it 14-0.
Fordson would end up turning the ball over three more times on the night en route to a surprising 38-0 loss to end their season with a record of 12-1, one game short of the state championship game at Ford Field in Detroit.
Fordson senior linebacker Abdallah Homayed talked about the loss and what went wrong.
The Fordson offense was backed up in its own end often in the Tractors' 38-0 playoff loss to Lake Orion.
Homayed also said that the team was a little too overconfident going into the game. His teammate, fellow senior running back Ali Alaboody, agreed with that sentiment.
"We came out with a bit more than a swagger and approached the game feeling pretty cocky and overconfident," he said. "We didn't take one game at a time as coach (Fouad) Zaban tells us to. We were not focused after the first play, the (interception for a touchdown) and it all went downhill and started falling apart."
There were no bright spots on the night for the Tractors against Lake Orion, but the season that preceded the game will live on forever in the memories of the players who experienced it first-hand.
Fordson went 9-0 during the regular season including the always-satisfying win over fierce rival Dearborn by a score of 24-14, and the season will be considered a success looking back by players and coaches alike.
"I am extremely proud of what these kids have accomplished and it is not just doing well on the field," said Head Coach Fouad Zaban. "They were able to bring the community together and school spirit back, (and to) carry on the great tradition Fordson has."
A bus painted in Fordson colors is parked outside of Troy Athens High School during the state semi-final football matchup between Fordson and Lake Orion last Saturday.
"We started out slow but the coaches had it in the back of their minds that they'll be satisfied if we win our league," he said, which the Tractors did, winning the Mega Red. "We kept going on and on and kept winning in the playoffs when everyone was doubting us. No one expected us to go that far. We didn't want it to end that way (with the loss) but it's not going to take away from our undefeated regular season."
Alaboody will now look to the future as he has verbally agreed to play football next year for Bowling Green of the Mid-American Conference, which is home to local teams Eastern, Central and Western Michigan. Alaboody said he will play slot receiver and kick returner for the Falcons and also said he wanted to thank the Fordson fans for their support over the years.
Homayed on the other hand said he hasn't spoken with college coaches recently, but he attracted interest from college programs earlier in the year and still plans to find a spot on a college team somewhere. He talked about the tough ending and the remarkable season turned in by the Tractors in his final year with the team.
"The season was a great season, you can get better but we did pretty well. The last time a Fordson team did that well was in 1993 when they won the state title and it doesn't get any better than that until you lose.
"It was a great season but you know, you always want that state title though. Somebody had to lose."
The Tractors played uncharacteristically sloppy football in freezing temperatures against Lake Orion last Saturday, but with another year of practice and the maturation of younger players like Baidoun and star wide receiver Baquer Sayed, Homayed believes the Tractors will be back stronger than ever for next season.
"I'm hoping next year they will go all the way," he said. "They have quite a few guys coming back, actually, and they should have a great team next year."
Zaban talked about what he expects from the team in 2009.
"In order for us to move forward and continue getting better we must put the time and energy in during the off season," he said.
"Hopefully, the program is headed in the right direction and not just with wins and losses, but by doing the right things and being productive citizens in the community."