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Grand Rapids Catholic Central records 10 sacks, defeats Country Day, 10-7, in Division 4 final

By: Dave Pemberton, November 25, 2016, 11:20 pm



Detroit — Grand Rapids Catholic Central had just 60 yards of total offense and set a state championship game record with just one first down but the Cougars still walked away with a state championship.

The Cougars scored the game’s only offensive touchdown and defeated Detroit Country Day, 10-7, in the Division 4 final on Friday at Ford Field.

Catholic Central (13-1) was able to capture its first state championship since 2010, thanks to its defense.

The Cougars’ defense didn’t allow a single point with Country Day’s touchdown coming on an interception returned for a touchdown.

“I think our defense is as good as anybody,” C.C. coach Todd Kolster said. “I think our kids play extremely hard. We’re very sound. Our coaching staff does an outstanding job. It’s something we believe in very strongly in our program, you got to play great defense to win. The proof’s in the pudding tonight.”

C.C. trailed, 7-3, when Jack Bowen threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Michael Brown with 11:11 left in the fourth quarter. Brown broke a few tackles to reach the end zone on the Cougars’ biggest offensive play of the game.

“We knew the corner was playing hard because we kept running the ball so we knew we could get him sooner or later on the play action,” Brown said.

Antonio Strong played well in every phase of the game for Catholic Central. Strong’s 54-yard punt return to the 6-yard line set up the Cougars’ field goal in the first quarter. Josh Steffes’ 31-yarder made it 3-0.

Strong also had a key interception in the fourth quarter and led the Cougars with 22 yards rushing.

“Antonio’s as good as there is in the state of Michigan,” Kolster said. “He doesn’t get enough credit. I think he’s one of the best football players in the state. We’ve been very fortunate.”

Catholic Central had 10 sacks and held Country Day to 113 yards of total offense.

“Our defense has played so well and they’ve given us an opportunity every time,” Kolster said. “Our offense has been opportunistic, that’s what I will say and they did a nice job making a couple plays tonight.”

Roy McCree IV returned an interception 82 yards for a touchdown with 4:54 left in the second quarter for the Yellowjackets.

“Adam (Fakih), our senior captain, made a great play and Roy picked it off and took it to the house,” Country Day coach Dan MacLean said. “I think we probably needed another one of those tonight.

“It’s bittersweet. A lot of great things happened (this year). And there were a lot of things with our team where we had issues and had to address them. Our kids showed a lot of resiliency, so I was hoping we could finish the job here tonight. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.”

The combined 173 yards of total offense between the two teams Friday night, was the lowest in state finals history. The previous record (196) was set by Farmington Hills Harrison and Muskegon Catholic Central in Class B in 1981.

The previous record of the fewest first downs in a state final was set by Flint Holy Rosary in the 1975 Class D final against Crystal Falls Forest Park.