By Tom Spencer
Special for Second Half
For the second time in four years, Jerry Angers walked onto Ford Field last fall with his Maple City Glen Lake football team seeking an MHSAA Finals championship.
It is not likely he’ll do so again.
The next time he sees those athletes play who he led to the Finals in 2016 and 2019, they will be suiting up all over the Midwest and possibly country for college football competition. It may even be in professional football stadiums, as some of his former players have experienced.
Angers announced his plans to step down as the Glen Lake head football coach at the end of an 11-year run with a 74-42 record. After the 7-0 loss to Monroe St. Mary in November’s Division 6 championship game, he made the difficult decision many MHSAA coaches face.
He’s putting his family, and in particular son Duke, first.
The younger Angers plays football for Saginaw Valley State University. He’ll be starting his junior campaign in August, and “Coach Dad” (as Duke calls him) will be there watching every game and supporting his son. At the same time, Jerry will watch several others he coached play with — and against — his son’s Cardinals team.
The younger Angers is one of 70 football players Coach Dad has mentored in high schools all over Michigan who have gone on to or will play college football. Duke plays H-back and tight end for the Cardinals. Two current Lakers, Ben Kroll and Jonathan Wright, are headed to SVSU next year to play with Duke. A few other Glen Lake grads from the team that fell in the 2016 Division 6 Final, 26-14 to Jackson Lumen Christi, also are playing at the college level. That gives Coach Dad lots of chances to see his former players compete.
In particular he’s excited to see Cade and Drew Peterson when Grand Valley State University and the Cardinals meet in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Association play, although the Peterson brothers will be on the opposing sideline.
Like many were, Duke was a little stunned by his Dad’s decision.
“His first comment was, ‘Dad, those kids need you more than I do,’” Jerry Angers recalled. “I told him I need to be there for you.”
Angers will continue as a teacher at Glen Lake and head up the Lakers’ strength and conditioning program and serve as the assistant track coach. He’s excited to have a little more time to travel with his wife Kathy, and to just watch football and visit his daughter Megan in Denver.
“Thankfully, Coach Angers isn't going anywhere,” said Lakers athletic director Mark Mattson. “He will still play a very important role in our school and for our students, regardless of whether or not they participate in sports. While I am still somewhat shocked by Jerry’s decision, I am not completely surprised because I know how hard it has been on him to not spend more time with his family. He has tried to give his all to Glen Lake and his family.”
Mattson’s thoughts sum up the reaction to Anger’s decision, Coach Dad believes.
“Everyone has been very supportive here from the administration, the community, the players to the staff,” Angers said. “I am still here and will continue to do all the other things I’ve been doing.”
As Coach Dad looks to next football season, he is hoping to continue playing a special role for another one of his former players, Keegan Royston. Keegan’s father, Eric, a long-time MHSAA basketball and soccer referee and educator in the Lansing and Traverse City areas, died in 2019 after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer.
Angers is taking the senior long-snapper down to SVSU in the near future. The Cardinals have their eyes on him for next year’s team. Angers and Royston will be having dinner with the three other Cardinals football players with ties to Glen Lake.
“I am looking forward to it,” Angers said. “Before Eric passed away, he told me Keegan is going to need a strong role model to look up to. It’s pretty special for me as a coach to have this opportunity to help.”
Angers’ coaching career included stops at Bay City Handy, Traverse City Central, Traverse City West, Royal Oak and Waterford Kettering. A handful of his former players made it to the National Football League. He admits it is awesome to know he played a role in their development, but all of his former players are special to him.
“Ah, ‘Coach’ – that is the word, the label you always want and love to hear,” Angers said. “It is something to run into former players and get a greeting with ‘Hey coach!’”
And while Angers won’t be coaching Glen Lake in the fall, he is certain the Lakers will continue to raise the bar and find new ways to clear it.
“I believe the Lakers will continue to rise,” he predicted.
“They’re not going to fall off one bit. They are a great bunch of kids. And they want to compete.”
Tom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.
PHOTOS: (Top) Recently-retired Maple City Glen Lake football coach Jerry Angers, with wife Kathy, son Duke and daughter Megan during Duke’s Lakers career. (Middle) Angers attends one of Duke’s games at Saginaw Valley State University with his family. Duke is No. 88 and his roommate Jake Dorn also is pictured. (Photos courtesy of the Angers family.)
DETROIT – Dante Moore had no tears left to cry Saturday night, even happy tears, after he played his final high school football game for Detroit Martin Luther King at Ford Field.
“Everybody sees I’m not crying – I really cried before I got here to the game. Before I walked to the gate, I was crying and I cried last night,” Moore said.
King’s four-year starting quarterback cemented his legacy, leading the Crusaders to their second-straight MHSAA Division 3 championship with a 56-27 victory over Muskegon.
The Oregon commit finished 21-of-26 passing for 275 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions to power King (10-3) to its sixth Finals title overall and fifth in eight years.
Before Moore even took the field for his first offensive series against Muskegon (11-3), junior Jameel Croft Jr. staked King to an immediate lead with an electrifying 96-yard return of the game’s opening kickoff.
The Crusaders never looked back.
“I wasn’t expecting that. I just followed my blocks. Guys were blocking for me and the coaches set it up perfectly for me, for real,” Croft said. “It gave us a lot of momentum in the beginning of the game. It helped us out a lot.”
Muskegon pulled within 14-7 midway through the first quarter and 21-14 three minutes into the second, but Moore & Co. always seemed to have an answer.
Croft scored the game’s first two TDs, as he added a 13-yard scoring catch from Moore to make it 14-0 with 6:28 left in the first quarter.
“We started out chasing. We gave up that opening kickoff for a touchdown and we just got ourselves chasing and kind of things went from there,” said Muskegon coach Shane Fairfield, whose team trailed 35-14 at halftime and pulled within 14 with five minutes left in the third but got no closer.
Croft was Moore’s top pass-catcher, finishing with six receptions for 64 yards and two TDs. Senior Sterling Anderson Jr. was a blur as King’s top rusher, totaling 207 yards on only 13 carries, highlighted by his 80-yard scoring sprint that gave the Crusaders a 49-27 lead with 10:55 remaining.
Seniors Samuel Washington and Tim Ruffin paced King defensively with nine and eight tackles, respectively. For Muskegon, senior Julian Neely registered a team-high seven stops, while junior Stanley Cunningham recorded two sacks among his six tackles.
Muskegon junior quarterback M’Khi Guy ran 20 times for 135 yards with two TDs, including a 60-yard breakaway to pull the Big Reds within 14-7 midway through the first quarter. He also completed 2-of-4 passes for 97 yards, including a 71-yard scoring strike to junior Destin Piggee.
Muskegon junior Jakob Price added 93 rushing yards and a TD on 17 carries, but the night belonged to King and Moore.
“There’s no excuse: That kid is amazing. He threw balls that we haven’t seen probably in my career,” said Fairfield, whose program was seeking its first Finals title since 2017. His Big Reds teams have been to the Finals to finish eight of his 13 seasons at the helm.
“Only one other guy threw touchdown passes like (Moore) and passes and balls like that in my career here, and that was (Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice’s) Alex Malzone – went to Michigan. Seems like we always see the (Dequan) Finns and the Dantes and Malzones and stuff when we get here, but you know, we’re here,” added Fairfield, whose 2018 squad lost to Finn and King, 41-25, in the Division 3 championship game.
King coach Tyrone Spencer said that his team overcame a lot of adversity this season. The Crusaders could not practice on their field because it’s undergoing a makeover, so they bussed to practice. They lost their season opener to Warren Central (Ind.), 44-26, and dropped the final two games of the regular season to Detroit Cass Tech (28-14) and Cincinnati Moeller (30-14).
The Crusaders got it going in the playoffs, however. They threatened the Finals record for points by one team, established Friday night by Grand Rapids West Catholic with 59.
“(The season) was up and down, but the kids, I mean, they trust us and we got it back going,” Spencer said. “They’re a resilient group of kids. It speaks to their character.”
Moore mentioned the “championship culture” at King, how one expects to be a champion once he puts on that jersey.
It’s also about giving back and respecting the game, too, which has been a custom of Moore’s since his freshman year when King lost to Muskegon Mona Shores in the Division 2 Final, 35-26.
“My freshman year, me playing against Brady Rose and Muskegon Mona Shores, I remember Brady Rose pulled me to the side and that’s where I really got it from – him taking me to the side, telling me things I can work on, and me congratulating him for what he’s done and being one of the best players to come through Michigan to be honest and leading his team on his back,” Moore recalled.
“I just knew that I had to carry that on through this past year and really pull the (opposing) quarterbacks to the side, especially (those) younger than me. Me being a senior, I’ve been through a lot. I just want to give them the keys and terms to help them be the best they can be in high school.”
Croft called the 6-foot-2, 210-pound Moore a “great leader,” who is “so poised” and one who will leave “a great legacy right here for sure.”
“Special, man,” is how Spencer reflected on Moore’s four-year run.
“You know, he’ll be the one that they’ll talk about maybe the greatest we’ve ever had here,” Spencer said. “Just really proud of him and the person that he is. He deserves it. He works hard for it, and I just couldn’t be more pleased. It couldn’t happen to a better person.”
Meanwhile, Muskegon got off to a bit of a slow start this season by Big Reds standards. They lost two of their first five games, including a 49-16 road defeat to eventual Division 2 champion Warren De La Salle Collegiate, but got healthy and played their best football at the right time leading up to Saturday night.
Fairfield said the Big Reds battled and left it all on the field.
“They played 14 and when you play 14 games, of course this is going to hurt more because it’s the very last one and now you’ve got 364 days to get back,” he said.
PHOTOS (Top) Detroit King’s Samuel Washington (10) wraps up Muskegon’s M’Khi Guy during Saturday’s night’s Division 3 Final. (Middle) Crusaders quarterback Dante Moore rolls out looking for a receiver. (Below) King’s Sterling Anderson Jr. (3) follows his blockers through a sizable opening.