It is too early to say that we will proclaim the 2012 football state championships as the “Muskegon Invitational,” which we did in 2008, but indications are Muskegon and the surrounding area will have most of their population base spending parts of Thanksgiving weekend in Ford Field.
In 2008, Muskegon won the Division 2 state title while Muskegon Oakridge won the championship in Division 5, nearby Montague captured the Division 6 title and Muskegon Catholic Central took home the Division 8 trophy.
Little seems to have changed in the four years since then. All of the above will be factors come playoff time and now we may have a new entrant: Muskegon Mona Shores.
Mona Shores, which has been to the playoffs as many times as the Lions have been to the Super Bowl, is 3-1 and the Sailors have been playing like football is back at Mona.
“I don’t know,” second-year coach Matt Koziak said, “if it was ever there before.”
Good point. Mona Shores has had only one winning season in the last 14 years, but this looks like no other Mona football team anyone has ever seen.
“We were really young last year,” said Koziak, whose first team was 4-5. “We had only six seniors and only two of them played. So most every kid is back.”
Among the returnees is quarterback Tyree Jackson, who doesn’t seem old enough to be out when the streetlights come on.
“He’s 14 this year and he’s just shattering records there,” Koziak said. “He was 13 last year and he threw for 1,300 yards. It was crazy.”
Making Jackson more effective are three quality receivers — Chris Bradford, Asantay Brown and Marquon Sargent — and they create lanes for running back Darnell Longmire, who has been terrific.
“He’s a kid who kind of lived in the weight room in the off-season,” Koziak said. “He was our leading rushing last year, but he had like 600 yards. Now he’s really carrying the load. He had 32 carries for 150 yards the other night. We’re really kind of balanced.”
Koziak spent nine seasons as an assistant to Tony Annese at Muskegon, the last three as offensive coordinator. He was Muskegon’s head coach in 2009 and was an assistant there in ’10 before moving to Mona Shores, where he has changed the culture.
“Thank God I had some credentials coming from Muskegon,” said Koziak, who has three state championship rings. “So the kids were like, ‘Hey, let’s kind of listen.’ The kids bought into a system and they believe in it and they’re just playing great football.”
The funny thing is, the Sailors are only 23 seconds away from being 4-0, but they are only halfway to making their first state playoff appearance. And with unbeaten Muskegon and Zeeland East ahead, the Sailors are anything but a playoff lock.
But don’t try telling that to anyone in Mona Shores’ part of Muskegon.
“The community wants it; the administration wants it,” Koziak said. “They’ve been great with anything I needed. They gave me a weight-lifting class and they scheduled it like you schedule band kids in band class. The kids are just ecstatic. They want it worse than I do. These seniors are outstanding.”
De La Salle QB out? The Catholic League’s Central Division took an interesting twist with Birmingham Brother Rice’s dominating 28-0 victory over Warren De La Salle on Saturday night and the revelation that De La Salle quarterback Shane Morris, who was eight of 17 for 87 yards and an interception in the first half before leaving the game, might have mononucleosis and could be out of Sunday’s game at Novi Detroit Catholic Central.
Big games on tap: This could be the best week for key games in decades. This week we will see Detroit Cass Tech play at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, Utica Eisenhower at Macomb Dakota, Livonia Churchill at Canton, Farmington at Oak Park, Dearborn at Fordson, Traverse City West at Cadillac, Wyandotte at Taylor Truman, Caledonia at Grand Rapids Christian, St. Johns at DeWitt, Menominee at Kingsford, Milan at Monroe St. Mary CC, Watervliet at Hartford and Lawton at Decatur. And then there is the aforementioned CC-De La Salle game.
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1
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More Details: The Super 10
Free Press sports writer Mick McCabe breaks down the top 10 football teams in the state:
Detroit Cass Tech
Birmingham Brother Rice
Orchard Lake St. Mary’s
Grand Rapids CC
Flint Carman- Ainsworth