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Top 10 defensive performances from 2019 MHSAA football finals at Ford Field

By: , December 3, 2019, 5:48 pm

So often, the headlines from state championship games are littered with the contributions of offensive players, but championships aren’t won without defense, especially not when you have low-scoring defensive struggles like we had in several of the MHSAA 11-player title games at Ford Field last weekend. Three of them ended up in shutouts, while two more had one team score just a lone touchdown. 

Here are 10 of the best defensive performances of the weekend:

Linebacker Sam Edwards was everywhere for Lansing Catholic, recording 20 tackles (11 solo), a sack, 1.5 tackles for loss, forcing a fumble, recovering two and picking off one of the Cougars’ five interceptions. Teammates Zach Gillespie and Zack Stone had two picks each. 

With his brother, defensive tackle Nick, occupying blockers — drawing at least a double-team, and recording eight tackles, Reading middle linebacker Ben Affholter recorded 10 total tackles (eight solo), 4.5 tackles for loss. The Rangers held Beal City to 42 net rushing yards, and 157 total yards in the Division 8 title game.

Diminutive, 5-foot-8 linebacker Darieon Jones had 14 tackles (10 solo), three sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss as the Panthers held Muskegon to zero net passing yards, and 180 total yards in a 30-7 win in the Division 3 championship game. 

Davison linebacker Logan Pasco had 16 tackles (11 solo), 0.5 sacks and two tackles for loss, as the Cardinals beat Brighton, 35-25, in the D1 championship game to claim their first state title. 

The stat line of 10 tackles (seven solo) and an interception is impressive enough, until you find out it belonged to Muskegon Mona Shores’ Brady Rose, who played both ways for the Sailors in the Division 2 title game, adding 90 yards and three scores rushing, and 122 yards and a touchdown passing, filling in at quarterback for the injured Caden Broersma. Playing nearly every snap, Rose was able to catch his breath during the media timeouts, he said.

Maple City Glen Lake free safety Finn Hogan had 12 tackles (nine solo) and 0.5 tackles for loss, as the Lakers held the prolific Monroe St. Mary CC well below its average, with “just” 249 net yards. The Lakers had six tackles for loss as a team in the Division 6 championship game. In the postgame press conference, when SMCC coach Adam Kipf was trying to remember Finn’s number, every single one of his players held up five fingers.

Grand Rapids Catholic Central defensive end Brady Redmer had seven tackles, a half-sack, and three tackles for loss, as the Cougars held Country Day to 60 net yards in the D4 title game, a 44-0 win. His opposite end, Jake Passinault, had three tackles, 0.5 sacks and 0.5 tackles for loss, one quarterback hurry and returned an interception — on a tipped attempt at a double-pass — 18 yards for a score. 

Detroit Country Day didn’t have much to write home about in the Division 4 championship game, but defensive end Caleb Tiernan batted one pass away, and recorded three of the five blocked kicks the Yellowjackets had in the game.

Pewamo-Westphalia defensive end John Martin [pictured, No. 78] had 11 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 2.5 tackles for loss and forced a fumble, as the Pirates recorded their ninth shutout on the season, holding Jackson Lumen Christi to 80 yards rushing, and 109 total yards in the D7 title game. 

Five of Jackson Lumen Christi linebacker Brody Dalton’s six tackles went for lost yardage (14 total yards), as he had nearly half of the Titans’ total of 12 TFLs on the game. Teammate Keegan Smith had six tackles, two for loss, and recovered a fumble, as the Titans held Pewamo-Westphalia to 119 total yards in the D7 title game.

Other notable performances:

Seth Schafer, Beal City — 14 tackles

Aiden Mindel, Beal City — 6 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1.5 TFL, 1 fumble recovery

Jaylen Reed, Detroit King — 11 tackles

Joe Frazier, Detroit King — 11 tackles

Rishad Hence, Detroit King — 8 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble

Jonathan Wright, Maple City Glen Lake — 12 tackles

Ben Kroll, Maple City Glen Lake — 7 tackles, 2 TFL

Wyatt Bergmoser, Monroe SMCC — 7 tackles, 1 fumble recovery

Danny MacLean, Country Day — 8 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 pass breakup

Nolan Zeigler, Grand Rapids CC — 10 tackles, 1 pass breakup

Grant Stump, Pewamo-Westphalia — 8 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1.5 TFL

Jacob Hausmann, Almont — 7 tackles, 1 TFL

Landon Kruse, Almont — 6 tackles, 1 interception

Tarran Walker, Muskegon — 9 tackles, 1.5 TFL

Chastin Cross, River Rouge — 6 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1.5 TFL, 1 pass breakup