Familiar Name Home Again for Mona Shores
September 23, 2020
By Tom Kendra
Special for Second Half
One of the biggest names in Muskegon Mona Shores football history is back at quarterback – after a 40-year hiatus.
Mark Konecny, who went on to Alma College and then became the first Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association player to make it to the NFL, moved back home from Colorado in 2017. Now it’s his son (same name) who is connecting with receivers for the reigning Division 2 champion Sailors.
“It’s kind of cool to be here playing on the same field and practicing on the same field as him,” said Konecny, a 6-foot, 190-pound junior who wears No. 10, while his dad wore No. 11 at Shores. “I came here for a veer camp in the summer before my 8th-grade year and I liked Coach Koziak and the kids and thought it would be a good fit for me, and it has been.”
Konecny is the backup to senior Brady Rose (5-7, 172), a state Player of the Year candidate who powered the Sailors to a 35-26 upset of Detroit Martin Luther King in last year’s MHSAA Division 2 Final. But that doesn’t mean Konecny won’t play a key role in Friday’s showdown at crosstown rival Muskegon High.
Konecny threw a pair of first-half touchdown passes Friday as Shores picked up right where it left off with a 55-0 pounding of Muskegon Reeths-Puffer in an Ottawa-Kent Conference Green game.
While the explosive Rose is a magician running the veer offense, Koziak said having a backup like Konecny with a rocket arm adds another dimension to the attack.
“We want to get our best players on the field, but there can only be one quarterback, so it’s kind of a problem,” said Koziak, who led Mona Shores to its first-ever playoff berth in 2013 and then to the Finals three times in the past six years. “Brady is an amazing leader and high school football player, while Mark is more of a prototypical QB who can really spin it. So we’ll try to find unique ways to get them on the field at the same time.”
One of those unique ways came in the first quarter Friday, when Konecny lined up as a slot receiver and received a backwards toss from Rose. Konecny then fired his first-ever varsity pass, which a wide-open Elijah Farnum took 59 yards for a touchdown.
On the next possession, Konecny took over at quarterback and Rose moved to the slot, the position he played last year before stepping in for injured starting quarterback Caden Broersma early in the Semifinal against Walled Lake Western. With the Puffer defense focused on Rose, Konecny gunned a four-yard scoring pass to a sliding Keondre Pierce on a seam route.
The two-quarterback attack might be required Friday at Muskegon, as Shores managed just 15 rushing yards and three first downs in last year’s humbling 53-0 loss to the Big Reds.
Muskegon holds a 32-7 all-time edge over Mona Shores, and had won 14 in a row before the Sailors broke through with back-to-back regular-season wins in 2014 and 2015. The Big Reds have since won five straight in the series, including a playoff victory in 2015.
Friday’s game will be the first on the new synthetic field turf at renovated Hackley Stadium, where the Big Reds have been playing since 1927.
Muskegon coach Shane Fairfield hinted before Monday’s practice that the Big Reds could also use multiple quarterbacks in Friday’s game. Projected starter Amari Crowley did not play in Muskegon’s 59-14 opening win at Holland, but is expected to be back Friday. Junior Myles Walton stepped in last week and rushed for 133 yards and completed 4-of-5 passes for 52 yards.
Konecny’s dad remembers classic battles against Muskegon back during his era, and leading the Sailors to a 20-7 win over Muskegon his senior year in 1980 before suffering a season-ending broken collarbone the following week at Traverse City.
He was converted to running back at Alma College, where he became the first in school history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season with 1,059 in 1984 in earning all-MIAA honors. He played two years in the Canadian Football League, before realizing his dream of playing in the NFL in 1987 with the Miami Dolphins.
Konecny’s best NFL season came with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1988, when he returned 17 kickoffs for 276 yards and 32 punts for 226 yards.
After football, he worked as a fireman in Littleton, Colo., for 25 years, but fate led him back home to Mona Shores when Koziak invited him to speak at a team fundraiser in 2017. Later that year, the younger Konecny took part in the school’s veer camp and the family decided to come home for good.
Things have fallen into place ever since. Konecny got a job with the Norton Shores Fire Department; his wife, Lauri, landed a kindergarten teaching job at Campbell Elementary in the Mona Shores district; and their only child, Mark, quarterbacked the Sailors freshmen to a 7-1-1 record two years ago and the junior varsity to an 8-1 record last fall.
The elder Konecny coached the Shores special teams the past two years, but stepped aside during the offseason to give his son some space and just be another dad in the stands.
“I want these next two years to be all about him and the work that he has put in,” said Konecny, who was inducted into the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2007. “I just want to be an advocate for him and do whatever I can, lend whatever knowledge or experience I can, to help him achieve his goals.”
The younger Konecny is always trying to learn – soaking in lessons from Koziak and offensive coordinator Aaron James about the nuances of the veer offense and working with his father and former MSU quarterback Ryan Van Dyke on the mechanics of quarterback play. But perhaps the best lessons of all come from Rose.
“We compete with each other, but we also encourage each other,” explained Konecny, who has played hockey in the past but plans to powerlift and play baseball this school year. “What Brady does on the field just logistically doesn’t make sense for someone his size. But you see him in the weight room and around our teammates, and he’s such a leader. He’s a great influence on me.”
Koziak said he has no doubt Konecny will be a college quarterback in a couple of years.
“One of the things I really like about Mark is that he has a very inquisitive football mind,” said Koziak. “He wants to know why we do certain things we do in terms of motion or blocking on a particular play – not just what he has to do, but why.”
Konecny also has an incredible work ethic, never missing a chance to throw with his teammates or to hit the weight room. He recently became a rare junior skill athlete to join the Mona Shores 1,000-pound club – meaning his combined best lift in the bench, squat and dead lift tops that weight.
And when he’s not doing one of those things, he can often be spotted at his dad’s old favorite workout spot: the giant Lake Michigan sand dunes at Lake Harbor Park.
“Every so often, we’ll be sitting around the house and he’ll be restless and go run the dunes,” the elder Konecny said with a smile. “Those are the same dunes that I used to run when I played at Shores, so that’s kind of neat. Like father, like son, I guess.”
Tom Kendra worked 23 years at The Muskegon Chronicle, including five as assistant sports editor and the final six as sports editor through 2011. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Muskegon, Oceana, Mason, Lake, Oceola, Mecosta and Newaygo counties.
PHOTOS: (Top) Mona Shores junior quarterback Mark Konecny drops back to pass during Friday's game at Muskegon Reeths-Puffer. (Middle) Konecny warms up Friday. (Below) The elder Mark Konecny. (Mona Shores photos by Eric Sturr and Mike Meekhof, respectively. Head shot courtesy of the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame.)
Mendon 8-Player Championship Game Run Paced by Record-Setting Rushing
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
May 26, 2023
Mendon’s run to the Division 2 Final last fall included some of the strongest rushing performances over the history of 8-player football.
The Hornets ran for 4,317 yards, second-most all-time, on the second-most attempts (520) and with a record-setting 682 yards Oct. 14 against Marcellus. Mendon also set the record for total offense with 692 total in that game, and made the single-season touchdowns list with 76 including 66 rushing (also second on that list).
Junior Jack McCaw made the single-season scoring list with 212 points, most coming on 29 touchdowns, and Evan Lukeman made the single-game rushing list with 401 yards against Marcellus. Mendon’s defense also earned praise, twice making the fewest-first-downs-allowed list with a low of three.
See below for more recent additions to the 8-player portion of the football record book:
Athens’ Landon Bennett earned a pair of record book entries after reaching the end zone seven times during his team’s 72-0 win over Burr Oak on Sept. 8. His seven scores are tied for third-most in 8-player history and included three rushing, three on punt returns and one on an interception return. The three punt return touchdowns are a record. Bennett is a junior.
On the night Powers North Central broke its 8-player record for consecutive wins, claiming its 28th straight, senior Luke Gorzinski tied Jets great Jason Whitens for the record for interception touchdowns in a game with two, scoring on returns during the second and fourth quarters. Gorzinski has signed with Michigan Tech, and North Central’s winning streak is 37 games and counting.
A pair of Atlanta offensive playmakers and a top defensive lineman earned a total of seven entries in the record book for achievements last fall. Senior quarterback Tyler Currie threw for 30 touchdowns over eight games, and also made the records for six touchdowns and 419 passing yards against Whittemore-Prescott on Sept. 23; the passing yards are second-most for one 8-player game. Sophomore Landon Galea was added for 263 yards and five of those touchdowns against the Cardinals, and also for 1,418 yards receiving and 23 touchdowns over nine games. Junior teammate Tucker Kendrick made the tackles for loss list with five against Hillman on Oct. 6.
Adrian Lenawee Christian senior Brady McKelvey became the first to make the career extra points list in 8-player football this past fall. He bettered his previous single-season record making 64 of 66 extra-point attempts over 11 games and finishing his two-year varsity career with 123 extra points in 127 tries.
Sam McKissack reached the record book showcasing multiple skills for Crystal Falls Forest Park during the 2021 season – twice for rushing attempts in a game including with a record 59 against Ontonagon that Sept. 10, and then with a record 70-yard punt Oct. 30, 2021, against Lake Linden-Hubbell. Teammate Devon Basirico also made the record book with six fumble recoveries over 11 games that season. As a team, Forest Park was added twice for single-game rushing attempts – including 73 total in that Ontonagon game – and for 424 rushes over 11 games for the season. McKissack and Basirico are seniors this spring.
Nikolaus Lewis tied for eighth-most rushing touchdowns in an 8-player game when he reached the end zone six times for Carsonville-Port Sanilac in its win over Caseville on Oct. 7. He’s a senior this spring.
Bridgman has won 24 straight games over the last three seasons, and an exceptional offense – and exceptional offensive star – have played major roles. The Bees were added for 658 total yards in a win over Lawrence last season, that total ranking third all-time, and also 613 yards in a win over Eau Claire. Those included totals of 575 and 547 rushing yards, respectively, and Bridgman was added for 3,598 rushing yards (sixth on the list), 59 rushing touchdowns (fourth) and 76 total touchdowns (seventh). Senior Reid Haskins capped his four-year, 32-game varsity career with 13 record book entries, including for 254 points last season over nine games (tied for fifth all-time) and a record 620 career points, 41 touchdowns last season (fifth) and a record 95 for his career, 2,344 rushing yards last season (third) and a record 5,206 for his career, and 41 rushing touchdowns last season (third) and a record 94 for his career. Senior teammate Tanner Peters made the records three times including for 50 extra points last season (fourth) and 99 over 26 games and three seasons (second on the career list).
Mio's Austin Fox rewrote the 8-player passing record book this past fall, with his 621 yards in a game against Whittemore-Prescott setting a single-game record as he totaled four of the five-highest passing yardage totals. He also set a record with 3,516 over nine games for the season, another record with 289 passing attempts over those nine games and a third record for nine touchdown passes in that game against the Cardinals. His 41 touchdown passes total rank fourth. Teammates Gage Long and Nathan Hurst also earned several record book entries on the receiving end of those passes. Long’s 297 receiving yards against Whittemore-Prescott were tied for third most, and Hurst’s 266 against Alcona rank eighth. Long set a single-season record with 1,739 receiving yards, with Hurst sixth all-time at 1,321, and Long’s 14 receptions against the Cardinals and 70 for the season also rank second on those respective lists. Hurst set a record for longest 8-player kickoff return with a 99-yarder against St. Helen Charlton Heston. All three are seniors.
Peck was one of the first MHSAA 8-player champions, claiming the title in 2013, and Cody Abrego one of the state’s first 8-player stars. The Pirates were added to the MHSAA record book 52 times, and Abrego 14 times individually. Among the most notable entries for the 2015 graduate were for 462 points scored over his two-season career (ranking sixth all-time), 74 career touchdowns (sixth), 2,202 rushing yards in 2013 (fifth) and 35 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (sixth). Current senior Caleb Lentner was one of the stars statewide this past season, and he was added eight times including for 50 points scored in a game (ranking second), 272 points for a season last fall (fifth), eight touchdowns in a game (tied for second), 42 touchdowns in a season (fifth), an 8-player record of 2,694 rushing yards from last season, and 38 rushing touchdowns also last fall (fourth). Others to make the individual lists were Nathan Robar, Caleb Dudley, Steven VanConant, Kyle Abrego and Nathan Neihaus, Dudley for a record 20 career interceptions over two seasons and VanConant for a record 12 tackles for loss in a 2022 game and 36 tackles for loss for the season last fall. The Pirates also are all over the 8-player team record book, including for a record 97 touchdowns in 2013, a record 5,895 yards of total offense that season, 528 carries, 4,346 rushing yards and 73 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (all ranking second); and 24 interceptions in 2014, which ranks second on that list.
Senior quarterback JR Hildebrand was one of the most dynamic players in 8-player football in the fall in leading Martin to the Division 1 title. He had one of his most exciting nights in a playoff opener against Tekonsha, making the single-game touchdown pass list with six in a 68-6 victory.
PHOTO Mendon’s Jack McCaw (21) eludes a tackle during the 8-Player Division 2 Final in November at Northern Michigan University. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)