East Grand Rapids smothers Mount Pleasant, 35-0, to face St. Mary’s in a Division 3 semifinal
By Cullen Maksimowski
Mount Pleasant – The Division 3 regional final at Mount Pleasant High on Saturday was expected to be a closely-contest game.
It was anything but.
East Grand Rapids stuffed the ground-oriented offense of Mount Pleasant and advanced to the semifinals with a 35-0 victory.
East Grand Rapids is now 5-1 all-time against Mount Pleasant and the Pioneers (9-3) will face a familiar foe in Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (11-1) next Saturday at a site and time to be determined.
The Pioneers led 28-0 halftime and held Mount Pleasant without a first down. The Oilers had but two for the game.
East Grand Rapids tallied four interceptions and held Central Michigan-commit Hunter Buczkowski to 28 yards rushing.
Seniors Michael Clifford and Matt Solberg each had two interceptions, and senior defensive end Noah DeVelder led the team with five tackles.
“Our defense was just outstanding today,” Pioneers coach Peter Stuursma said. “I think our guys were getting up field, our defensive line is pretty quick and they’re really big up front and I think we used our quickness to our advantage today.”
The Pioneers offense was no slouch either. Sophomore quarterback Mike Malewitz had a 56-yard touchdown on their first possession. Malewitz finished 17-of-22 passing for a 102 yards.
“I thought Malewitz did a great job of managing the game as a quarterback,” Stuursma said. “He didn’t throw us out of it and didn’t make mistakes.”
Tailback Bryce Henkey did much of the rest in the scoring column. The senior scored three touchdowns and rushed for 103 yards.
Solberg rushed for 62 yards and a touchdown.
“I think we struggled a little bit in the beginning trying to run the ball,” said Stuursma. “We opened it up a little bit with the pass, and I think that flurry in the second quarter was big for us. Henkey and Solberg were huge.”
St. Mary’s and East Grand Rapids met in the Division 3 final in 2007, ’09 and ’10 with East Grand Rapids winning each time.
“Well (St. Mary’s is a) really good, they’re a legit team,” said Stuursma. “We obviously have a tremendous history with them, but we’re going to enjoy this right now. Going to the semifinals is a remarkable achievement for this team.”