Muskegon Catholic Central Repeats in D8

November 28, 2014

By Bill Khan
Special for Second Half

DETROIT — It certainly wasn't nerves.

Tommy Scott had already played in an MHSAA championship game, winning the Division 8 title with Muskegon Catholic Central last season. Scott, like the Crusaders' other veterans, said he was more at ease this season, knowing what to expect on the big stage at Ford Field.

So, why was Scott throwing up as he came off the field in the second quarter of the Crusaders' 31-6 victory over Munising?

"Thanksgiving food," he said.

Something he ate Thursday didn't agree with him for the early game the following morning, but it was Munising feeling queasy once Scott started feeling better.

"I felt sick in the first half," he said. "I wouldn't let that stop me in my last game in the state championship. I wasn't coming out. After I vomited, I felt way better."

Coach Steve Czerwon quickly added, "After he saw his dad screaming at him to get back in, I think he felt better, too."

Scott said he felt fine early in the game, well enough to bust off a momentum-altering 99-yard kickoff return just 13 seconds after Munising had taken a 6-0 lead. But he started to feel sick shortly after that, finally finding relief when he threw up.

Held to 14 yards on seven carries in the first half, Scott finished with 21 carries for 92 yards and three second-half touchdowns on the ground in addition to the record-breaking kick return. The previous record was a 97-yard return by Zeeland West's Brad Mesbergen in the 2011 Division 4 final.

"We knew coming in, we had to stop Scott and their quarterback," Munising senior Andy Cooper said. "We knew their quarterback was a little bit injured. He toughed it out today and played a heck of a game. Tommy, we saw he got sick a little bit on the sidelines. He came back in and was running the ball on us; he was tough."

Crusaders quarterback Nick Holt has been playing at less-than-optimal health the second half of the season after spraining his ankle, an injury he aggravated in the semifinals. Holt finished with 13 carries for 61 yards and was 2 for 6 passing for 41 yards.

"You know it's going to be your last game," Holt said. "You're never going to be able to put on your pads again or your helmet again. Just to have a group of guys around me that are there for me saying, 'You're going to be all right, you're going to be all right.' I couldn't have gotten through without them."

The Crusaders trailed for the first time all season when Cooper made a leaping catch in double coverage at the 50-yard line and sprinted to the end zone on third-and-seven to complete a 74-yard scoring pass from Austin Kelto with 10:14 left in the first quarter. Cooper's extra point was blocked.

It turned out that MCC would trail for only 13 seconds all season, as Scott turned on the jets and out-sprinted the last player back, Cooper, who won four events in last season's MHSAA Division 3 Upper Peninsula track and field meet.

"It was huge to get the momentum right back after they took the momentum in the first three plays," Scott said. "Making a big play like that can change a game."

Munising also allowed a 99-yard kick return by Beal City's Chase Rollin in a 10-7 semifinal victory after scoring a go-ahead touchdown in the third quarter.

"We were all excited after that touchdown," Cooper said. "Everyone was: the fans, the sidelines, the coaches. Then it seemed like deja vu, because it happened last week, the exact same thing. We score and they returned the next kickoff on us. We got through it and still kept our heads in the game."

The Mustangs were still in the hunt by halftime, trailing only 10-6. Seymour booted a 25-yard field goal with 2:37 left in the first half to cap an 18-play, 64-yard drive that consumed 9:16 off the clock.

MCC had a chance to extend its lead before halftime, but Blake Sanford had the ball punched out by Cooper at the 7-yard line after making a 29-yard catch. Kelto recovered the fumble, but a roughing-the-passer penalty gave the Crusaders new life at the 21. On the next play, Ben Stasewich tipped a pass by Holt, and Ian McInnis intercepted it with 24 seconds remaining in the second quarter.

In the second half, the Crusaders controlled the game with their ground attack.
They scored on their first three possessions of the half, with Scott scoring on runs of 1, 30 and 9 yards.

"We got a little bit tired in the second half," Munising coach Jeff Seaberg said. "Just not as many subs to put in. They started to grind on us and impose their running game on us a little bit. We weren't able to stop them. Once it got out of hand, it's a little bit too much to get back into it against them. They're a heck of a football team. We have a heck of a football team. They were just a little bit too much for us today."

Any conversation about the greatest high school football programs in Michigan must now include Muskegon Catholic Central.

With their 10th MHSAA title, the Crusaders joined five other elite programs who have reached double digits. Farmington Hills Harrison leads the way with 13, followed by now-closed Detroit St. Martin dePorres (12), East Grand Rapids and Mendon (11 each), and Detroit Catholic Central (10).

The only other time the Crusaders repeated was in 1991.

"To be able to say we won back-to-back, we're never going to be forgotten," Holt said. "Everyone is going to remember the 2013-14 team. Not only is it back-to-back, but we had such a big class. We had 18 starters last year, and this year it's just about everyone. This class is always going to be remembered. It's an honor and a blessing."

The Crusaders held Munising to 39 yards on 30 carries. Jaeden MacPherson had two sacks for minus-19 yards.

Muskegon Catholic Central ran for 198 yards on 48 carries. 

Click for full statistics. 

PHOTOS: (Top) A group of Muskegon Catholic Central defenders surround and take down Munising's Izaak Mahoski. (Middle) Munising's Austin Kelto (2) and David Harris (32) work to wrap up MCC's Tommy Scott. (Click for action photos and team photos from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)


MUSTANGS LIGHT IT UP FIRST - On the third play of the Division 8 title game, Austin Kelto hits Andy Cooper, and Cooper converts into a 74-yard touchdown for Munising. 
LONGEST KICK RETURN EVER IN A FINAL - On the kickoff following the Munising score, Muskegon Catholic Central's Tommy Scott goes coast-to-coast - 99 yards - for the longest kickoff return in an MHSAA Football Final. Scott ended up scoring four times and rushing for 96 yards.

Watch the game in its entirety and order DVDs by Clicking Here.

Mendon 8-Player Championship Game Run Paced by Record-Setting Rushing

By Geoff Kimmerly 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.)