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DIVISION 3: Mareyohn Hrabowski outshines Cam Martinez, leading River Rouge past Muskegon for first state title

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, December 1, 2019, 12:03 am

DETROIT — If you were told that a quarterback had 220 net yards and three rushing touchdowns in Saturday’s finals finale at Ford Field, you’d probably nod and think ‘Of course Cam Martinez did that.’

It in fact was not him.

River Rouge junior quarterback Mareyohn Hrabowski put on a show in the Division 3 championship game, making a name for himself on a statewide level in leading the Panthers to a 30-7 win over Martinez and Muskegon.

“I told Mareyohn before the game, ‘Look, they’re going to talk Cam Martinez this, Cam Martinez that, but once they’re keying on me, and once I’m being a decoy for you, so you can do your stuff, hey, they’re going to be interviewing you every day. Every college coach is going to text you.’ I told him that at halftime, and I told him that before the game,” said senior running back Deandre Bulley, agreeing that people may underestimate the speed of the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Hrabowski, who was untouched once he hit the creases on his touchdown runs.

“It was over with. Once he got that opening, ain’t no catching him.” 

Hrabowksi scored on runs of 40 and 35 yards, and had a run of 48 yards in the game, as well. 

“That man is the GOAT, right there,” a teammate yelled, as Hrabowski was being interviewed. 

“I ran over the blocks, and I’ve got good vision, so … I just took it and ran,” said the junior first-year varsity player. “Our game plan was to stop them every single time they got the ball and when we stop them, we score. We do that, and keep them behind, they’re going to have to take bigger shots. If they don’t execute on those shots, then we keep on scoring.”

While it was the first-ever title for River Rouge (13-1), it was the sixth time in the last eight seasons that the Big Reds (13-1) have finished as runner-ups. 

“Of course I want to win a state championship, but I wouldn’t want to trade the 13 wins to get here to have this one,” Muskegon coach Shane Fairfield. The takeaway is “just that we played 13 games again. We’ve won how many regional championships, district championships in a row? How many more times have we been back to the state finals again. There are a lot of schools that are like, ‘Well, we can do that.’ But they’re not here. So we’re here. And we had a chance. We didn’t make the best of it, but they’ll learn from it. They’ll learn life lessons. I’ll learn from it.”

With the Big Reds keying on power back Deandre Bulley, it freed up holes for Hrabowksi to run through, and he capitalized for 175 rushing yards on 15 carries, adding 45 yards through the air on 6-for-12 passing.

“They were keying on Bulley, and Bulley did a good job of letting the game come to him,” Rouge coach Corey Parker said. “He was able to play nice and relaxed, and when they came and tackled him, he was able to carry out his fake, and Mareyohn was able to pull it out of his stomach and keep running.”

Martinez wasn’t bad at being himself, either, gaining 108 net yards and a touchdown on the ground, but was sacked four times in his career finale. 

“You just want to come out on top, especially last year for my seniors. I wanted to come out on top and leave a legacy that no one would forget. Just sucks that it wasn’t able to happen, but life goes on,” the Ohio State commit said. “I got that question last year, when people asked ‘Would you rather lose earlier and not play in this game and lose?’ You want to play to the end, and the fact that we’re the final two teams. That’s what you play for, and that’s what I worked for. Just unfortunate that we couldn’t come out on top.”

After Muskegon went up 7-0 on Martinez’s 3-yard touchdown run with 39 seconds left in the first quarter, Hrabowski answered with a 1-yard scoring run to tie it at 7-7 with 7:57 left in the first half, then made it 14-7 with a 40-yard scoring jaunt with just under a minute left in the first half. 

He ripped off a 35-yard scoring run just 14 seconds into the second half, making it 21-7, then Avery Burch added a 31-yard field goal early in the fourth, and Bulley found a seam with five minutes left, scoring from 33 yards out. 

Linebacker Darieon Jones had three of the Panthers’ four sacks, as well as 3.5 tackles for loss and 14 total tackles, as Rouge held Muskegon to just 3.6 yards per carry, and zero net passing yards. 

“Just fast. Fast, fast. They don’t have any two-way players. When you can two-platoon like that — they didn’t have any guys go both ways, we had four or five. Once again, I don’t want to get into any excuses … but, in a game like this, in the heat, compared to being outside, you can have ones go against ones, and they can two-platoon like that, and there were times — when we didn’t get off the field on third down — their offense got a chance to rest, and they played fast,” Fairfield said. “We just spent a lot of time on a bus, but that wasn’t an excuse Week 1 or Week 2, so I’m not going to use any excuses. We didn’t play our best football. They played their best football. They beat us.”