'Gamer' Helps Shores Gut Out 1st Finals Win

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

November 29, 2019

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.”

Click for the full box score.

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.

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:

8-Player Football

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.)