Muskegon C.C shuts out Waterford Lakes to earn third straight Division 8 state title
Detroit – When Muskegon Catholic Central last faced a true passing team, it was in the first week of the season when the Crusaders allowed six passing touchdowns in a 45-26 loss to Muskegon Oakridge.
So when the Crusaders faced Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes in the Division 8 final on Friday, there was some uncertainty about their defense facing a high-powered Lakes passing offense that that averaged 42 points per game this season.
But on Friday morning, Catholic Central proved the week one loss was nothing more than a distant memory as the Crusader defense led the way to a 7-0 win and a third straight Division 8 state title.
“We saw that they were mainly a passing team,” Catholic Central coach Steve Czerwon said. “We thought we’d have good success to stop their run, we’ve had good success stopping everybody’s run this year. But they can really throw the ball, so we had an outstanding week of practice and getting to where we’re supposed to be. I guess the last time we faced a passing team was week one and we didn’t fair to well that week, so I don’t want to say this was redemption, but these kids showed they can play a passing team and I’m just proud of the preparation they put in and the way they carried out the game plan.”
After Christian Martinez registered an interception late in the third quarter, the Catholic Central (11-2) offense began finding some success driving the ball into Lakes territory.
Then, early in the fourth quarter, on third down and four, Martinez picked up a 14-yard gain on a quarterback keeper and a 26 yard run by Walker Christoffersen put the ball at the Laker’s eight yard line.
Martinez then finished off the drive with an 8-yard touchdown run to give Catholic Central a 7-0 lead 10:20 left to play in the game.
Martinez said that he wanted the ball in his hands during the scoring drive, hoping to make a big play to help break a scoreless tie and added that the play call and the blocking on the third down play was key on the drive.
“That was coach’s call, fake jet to the right, I ran it back side and I saw back side cut,” he said. “I yelled at him earlier to give me the ball because I wanted to make something happen because I felt like we were stalling in too many drives and he gave it to me on third and the line blocked perfect for me.”
Lakes (13-1) then drove the ball inside the Muskegon Catholic Central 20-yard line for the third time of the game, but Christoffersen picked off the pass in the end zone with 3:21 left to play.
Christoffersen noted that the week of preparation was key for himself and the other defensive backs against the Lakes offense.
“It was really good knowing that during practice this week all we was go over staying deep, stay on your man and don’t let anything behind you,” he said. “And that’s what I did, he ran a flag rout and I knew that if I got to him in time, I could break on the ball.”
Christoffersen’s interception was the fourth of the day for the Crusaders.
“That we needed two fourth down stops and we didn’t get either, that’s what was going through my mind, we could have been off the field,” Czerwon said. “But I didn’t think it was going to be easy, it was just a lot of perseverance and they got down inside the 20, but Walker jumped a play and we put a little bit of pressure on him and that sealed the game.”
Lakes coach Josh Sawicki said that he felt his team was able to sustain drives throughout the game, but the Lakers were not able to execute in the red zone.
“I thought we moved the ball relatively well in the red zone,” he said. “We just didn’t execute in the red zone was our main thing. They played deep cover four and they dropped those guys back there, they’re a great defensive football team, they came up and tackled and their game plan was keep everything in front and come up and tackle and we came up short a couple times in the red zone.”