DETROIT – Brady Rose walked into Ford Field on Friday carrying the backup quarterback tag.
After a performance that showed he was a backup in name only, the Muskegon Mona Shores junior walked out with the Division 2 Football championship.
Rose, who was starting in place of injured all-stater Caden Broersma, accounted for 212 total yards and four touchdowns as he led the Sailors to their first Finals title with a 35-26 win over Detroit Martin Luther King.
“He looked like an athlete,” King coach Ty Spencer said when asked if Rose looked like a backup. “He looked like a very good athlete that just helped his team win a state championship.”
A year after coming up one win short of the program’s first title, Mona Shores (12-2) pulled off what most considered to be an upset against a King team that featured three Division I college committed recruits and several other players who hold Division I and II offers. Not only were the Sailors without Broersma, but they had to replace nine defensive starters from a year ago.
They suffered a 53-0 loss in Week 8 to Division 3 finalist Muskegon and played two of their first three playoff games on the road. In the Semifinal victory over Walled Lake Western, Broersma injured his back on the first series, and the Sailors used a 2-point conversion in the final minute to pick up the win.
“People go back to our whoopin’ (against) Muskegon … I know it sounds crazy, but that was one of the best things that happened to us,” Mona Shores coach Matt Koziak said. “It obviously humbled us, made us dig a little deeper and understand that we might not be as good as we think we are without doing the little things. I understand that we were picked to lose, and we probably should have been picked to lose. But I told them after last game, I would never bet against them in anything – in life. They just find a way.”
There was no comeback needed Friday, as the Sailors not only never trailed, but were never tied after taking a 7-0 lead on their first drive. But they were certainly pushed, and responded with an 8-minute, 40-second drive in the fourth quarter that put the game away.
After King’s Peny Boone scored on a 66-yard run with 10:45 remaining, the Crusaders unsuccessfully went for two to try to tie the game at 28.
Mona Shores responded with a 14-play, 72-yard drive that was capped off by a two-yard touchdown run by Rose, his third of the game. The Sailors converted two third downs and a crucial 4th-and-1 at the King 12 to keep the drive alive and essentially put the game away.
“That last drive was 8:40, almost a 9-minute drive, when things weren’t going our way,” Koziak said. “King just kind of came out and was kind of like, ‘Bam. Bam.’ Kind of punched us in the mouth. (Rose) just didn’t get rattled by it. It’s almost like he’s playing on a middle school field; he doesn’t get caught up in the moment.”
Rose was 8-of-11 passing for 122 yards and a touchdown and added 90 yards on 21 rushes.
“Coach has confidence in me being the backup quarterback, so he just did the same thing as we would be doing if Caden was quarterback,” Rose said. “We just chipped away – 3rd-and-1, first down. 3rd-and-1, first down. We just chipped the clock away.”
Broersma also had confidence that his teammate could get the job done.
“I’ve said before that Brady Rose is just a gamer,” Broersma said. “You can put him in any situation and he’ll handle it better than probably 90 percent of this Earth. There’s really no question having him play quarterback. There’s total belief in him, there’s total belief in every play call and the coaching he gets. I’m super happy to see him succeed.”
Broersma’s No. 4 did make its way onto the field, and made quite an impact, as teammate Kolbe Trovinger wore it and finished with seven tackles and the game-sealing interception with 36 seconds play.
The two interceptions and a fourth-down stop ultimately made the difference, as they were the stops the Crusaders were unable to get on the other side of the ball.
Also, it was the first time since 1993 and second time in Finals history that neither team punted.
“Really it just came down to getting the big stop,” Spencer said. “We had one of them, but then we turned the ball over on that drive. We had to get that big stop and make a play and I think it would have turned our way, but we didn’t.”
The Mona Shores offense was nearly unstoppable in the first half, scoring on all three of its drives. Rose had a pair of one-yard scores, while Tre’Shawn Hatcher – who rushed for 95 yards on the day – added an 18-yard touchdown. The Sailors rushed for 130 yards on 23 carries in the half and added just enough passing – Rose was 5-of-7 for 64 yards during the first two quarters – to keep King honest.
King’s balanced offensive attack kept it in the game. Justin Whyte scored on a 42-yard screen pass from Dante Moore on the Crusaders’ second drive, and Boone added a one-yard touchdown run in the final seconds of the first half. A missed extra point and failed 2-point conversion kept King two scores back at halftime, but the offense did manage 200 total yards – 81 on the ground and 119 from Moore’s arm – during the opening 24 minutes.
Even on its first possession King managed to get to the Mona Shores 24-yard line, but a Cam Sobich sack on fourth down ended the threat.
The King offense stayed hot to open the third quarter, marching 73 yards in five plays, and pulling within one of the Sailors following a nine-yard Boone touchdown run and 2-point conversion pass from Moore to Marshawn Lee.
A big fourth-down stop at its own 14 gave King momentum and the opportunity to take the lead, but Rose stepped up near midfield, intercepting Moore. Seven plays later, Rose hit Jaylen Hopson for a 17-yard touchdown on fourth down. The point after put the Sailors back up eight at 28-20 with 16 seconds remaining in the third quarter. Hopson finished with five catches for 103 yards.
Boone, who has committed to Maryland, finished with 198 yards rushing, while Moore was 15-of-29 for 209 yards. Joe Frazier and Jaylen Reed each had 11 tackles for King (11-3), while Rishad Hence had eight tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and one forced fumble.
“I thought the team’s character was outstanding to go from 0-2 to battle back and play in the state championship game and put yourself in a position to win it,” Spencer said. “We came up short, but I’m proud of these guys, proud of the seniors, proud of the way (Moore) has played all year long.”
PHOTOS: (Top) Mona Shores’ Brady Rose follows a block by Tre’Shawn Hatcher into the end zone Saturday. (Middle) A Mona Shores defender gets an arm around King quarterback Dante Moore.
Kingsley football fans have become pretty familiar with VIP parking for home games over the last couple of seasons.
They may just start looking for a Kingsley VIP lot at Ford Field. The Stags just captured the MHSAA Division 6 championship trophy with a 38-24 victory over Almont, their second Finals championship and first since 2005.
The road to the Finals started with Kingsley hosting two playoff games, allowing great use of the VIP Parking of Trina’s Touchdown Club. The lot is adjacent to the school’s Rodes Field and provided in loving memory of Katrina “Trina” Kay Schueller, who passed away Oct. 21, 2021, at Munson Medical Center.
Those playoff games filling Trina’s Touchdown Club’s parking lot featured wins over Mason County Central 61-12 and Manistee 37-18, and 51-27 over Gladstone in the Regional Final. Kingsley then traveled down the road and defeated Reed City 37-7 in the Semifinal.
There may not have been designated VIP parking in Cadillac and Ford Field for the Stags’ followers, but there were a lot of VIPs at both stadiums with Schueller on their minds. Pretty much everyone with an affiliation with the highly-successful program or familiarity with the community’s struggles have become VIPs to the Kingsley coaching staff and many others.
Most certainly among the VIPs are head coach Tim Wooer, assistant coach Conner Schueller, his brother Carter Schueller, and his father Mike Schueller.
Conner was set to play the biggest regular-season game of his career the day after his mom passed. It was the regular-season finale against rival Traverse City St. Francis.
Wooer vividly remembers the moments leading up to that matchup, noting how difficult it was for Conner. But his then-fullback and now-assistant coach demonstrated amazing strength and maturity he stills exhibits today.
“He’s in his senior football season, and his mom is in the hospital for four weeks — he’s balancing that playing football and going to school,” Wooer recalled. “And then she passes, and he has the strength to come back to school and deliver the news to our team.
“I am sobbing watching this kid, and I’m just amazed,” Wooer continued. “The next night is Parents Night, and he’s on the field with his dad and brother without his mom.”
Conner still played, making a 4th-down goal line tackle to prevent a St. Francis touchdown. The Gladiators won the game, but Conner won the day, conquering much just to dress for the game.
The Stags went on to playoff wins over Kingsford 28-10 and Clare 32-6. They bowed out with a 33-18 Regional loss to Frankenmuth.
Conner’s junior year of 2020 had been cut short as the Kingsley was forced to forfeit its District Final to Reed City because several players and coaching staff tested positive for COVID-19. The Stags had Ford Field in their minds that season too after playoff wins over 38-13 Standish-Sterling 38-13 and Gladwin 63-16.
Conner, who celebrated his 20th birthday at Saturday’s Final, remembers his playing days and the challenges presented him.
“At the time it was ‘she’s not there,’ especially my senior year she wasn’t there to watch me and finish it out, but I know she’s watching above,” he said. “We were about to go play Reed City my junior year for Regionals, and everyone got sick and it ended our season unfortunately.”
Those challenges were on his mind at Ford Field, and running through his mind when he saw his brother and father in the stands. Carter, now a senior at Kingsley, had been unable to play football due to injuries.
“I thought about my brother – he unfortunately didn’t play this year due to his injuries, and I don’t really blame him for that,” Conner said. “I thought about him as well because it was just me and my dad and my brother now.
“It was very emotional,” Conner continued. “I got a glimpse of him in the strands.”
Carter also was filled with gratitude for the coaching staff for welcoming and mentoring him. He had become keenly aware of the amount of time coaches spend away from family at practices and going through film.
In addition to his family, Conner was thinking about many others in the Kingsley community – and other senior classes like his that didn’t get the chance to celebrate a championship.
He also was thinking about Justin Hansen, a 2003 graduate of Kingsley. Hansen was a captain on the 2002 conference championship team. He went on to become a special-operations Marine sergeant and was killed in action July 24, 2012, while deployed in Afghanistan. Hansen was on patrol as part of an operation in search of a high-value target when his team was hit with small arms fire.
On Saturday, Wooer was wearing a red T-shirt with the letters “USA” on the front and the name “Hansen” on the back. It also featured the number 54, Hansen’s in high school.
Wooer, who turned 54 in July, wore the shirt in Hansen’s memory knowing Hansen would be on the veteran coach’s mind and symbolizing Hansen’s presence with the team at Ford Field.
Wooer wants to make sure Hanson is never forgotten and reminds the soldier’s family the entire community remains behind them.
“I believe it is part of our job as a community to show our love to this family and help in any way possible to help them get through this process,” Wooers said. “After the funeral, we all went about life.
“We certainly still think about Justin and feel the pain,” he continued. “But nothing like a family does.”
Hansen’s tragic passing led to the creation of the annual Patriot Game in Traverse City in 2012 while Wooer was coaching Traverse City West. The game features crosstown rivals West and Traverse City Central every year and strives to honor veterans, first responders, active duty military, and area heroes who died while serving their country.
Saturday’s win over Almont left Wooer emotionally exhausted after all the preparations to do it right for the senior class, the school, the Kingsley community, the Schueller family and Hansen. Collectively, they’ve really become more like a family to the Stags coaching staff and many, many others.
“In terms of emotions, there is no doubt Justin was on my mind throughout the game,” Wooer said. “Trina and Conner have been – those are two huge pieces.
“And, a lot of my thoughts are with the seniors,” he continued. “You want to win the game, but also it is your last time with them.”
Wooer has learned a lot from his former players and coaches over the years. He’s become close friends with many of them, going back to his early days of coaching as a student-teacher at Elk Rapids. He also coached at Farewell and Traverse City West, the latter from 2008-2017 after a first tenure at Kingsley. He returned to Kingsley in 2018.
Schueller is among several former players and coaches who have been on Wooer’s coaching staffs over the years. Several continue today.
“I could give you lots of other stories about kids I have had,” Wooer said. “There comes this transition where they turn into such amazing men, you catch yourself every once in a while saying, ‘I want to be like him.’
“You get this huge smile on your face because you’re so proud of them, just like a mother or father would,” Wooer continued. “A coach always looks at his players like they’re part of his family.”
In addition to Conner, current assistants with long-term relationships with Wooer are Tom Kaleita, Kyle Smith, Ryan Zenner, Dan Goethals, Josh Merchant, Jordan Bradford, Steve Klinge, Connor Schueller, Mike Arlt, Larry Mikowski, Bobby Howell, Rob Whims and Jason Morrow.
This year’s seniors were Jon Pearson, Eli Graves, Skylar Workman, Gavyn Merchant, Max Goethals, Evan Trafford, Bode Bielas, Grant Kolbusz, James Person, Caleb Bott, Trenton Peacock, Noah Scribner and Gavin Dear. They and the coaching staff will be the center of attention as the community celebrates the football team at 7 p.m. this evening in the high school gymnasium.
The seniors probably won’t need VIP parking tonight. But if it would help, Conner would surely make arrangements to utilize Trina’s Touchdown Club. He’d have to add a shuttle though as Rodes Field is about a mile away from the school.
“It feels amazing — I don’t think it really hit any one yet, but I am sure it will,” Conner said. “After we won, it is truly something – it is something else I can’t explain.
“The seniors finally won it the way they were supposed to,” he continued. “It was a good class of seniors.”
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 [email protected] 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) Kingsley students support their classmates during Saturday’s Division 6 Final at Ford Field. (2) Stags assistant coach Conner Schueller watches from the sideline during an Almont run back. (3) Kingsley coach Tim Wooer, in red, prepares to present the championship trophy to his team including Schueller, far right. (4) Trina’s Touchdown Club welcomes members to the VIP lot adjacent to the Kingsley stadium. (Ford Field photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos; touchdown club photo courtesy of the Kingsley football program.)