How about some love for the O-line? Kyle Minder can complement his blockers as quickly as he can get into the end zone.
“They’re the hardest-working guys I know,” he said. “They don’t get any of the credit, and they’re the most important players on the field, I feel. Our offensive line was blowing them off the ball and we just kept coming at ’em.”
Minder should know. The Jackson Lumen Christi junior followed his wall and barged across the goal line from 3 yards, 1 yard and 6 inches away Friday at Ford Field, spurring his team to a 26-14 victory over Maple City Glen Lake and the Division 6 state championship.
Minder had never scored three touchdowns in a game before, and that was his most eye-popping stat as he covered 66 yards on 21 carries. But his ability to find the end zone gave the Titans (12-2) all the cushion they would need.
“We’ve hung our hat on our offensive line all year long,” coach Herb Brogan said. “The big thing is that our kids know if they get off the ball and block people, we’re going to make some big plays.”
Minder capped each of the first three Lumen Christi drives, which covered 55, 69 and 75 yards. The Titans didn’t throw the ball on their first possession and only attempted seven passes, as their potent ground-and-pound game chewed up the yards. Lumen Christi out-rushed Glen Lake 298 yards to 4, and was nearly unstoppable in short-yardage situations.
And Minder wasn’t even the yardage king — that was fullback Bo Bell, who gained 238 yards on 40 carries and scored from 3 yards out in the third quarter to make it 26-7. Bell got his team into the red zone by scampering 46 yards three plays earlier.
“He’s done that all year for us; he didn’t break a 60- or 70-yarder today, but 200-plus yards, he’s a workhorse, he’s going to find a seam and make something happen,” Brogan said. “We’ve run the ball well all year long, people would just jam the box, put nine in the box, and we still found a way to put the numbers up and we did it again today.”
While opposing defenses would put nine in the box, the Titans can now hang nine in the showcase. Lumen Christi is now 9-2 in state final contests, and ended a seven-year drought since its last championship, 42-7 over Clare in the Division 5 game in 2009.
“We’ll hang a banner and that’s the slogan every year,” Brogan said. “That’s their goal to hang another banner and we got that done.”
Glen Lake — whose lone state title came back in 1994 — had more of a wide-open offensive approach than Lumen Christi. The Lakers (11-3) first scored on a Cade Peterson-to-Nick Rice pass play which covered 57 yards. Rice streaked up the right sideline and Peterson hit him in stride, making the score 14-7 five minutes before halftime.
Peterson later connected with Nick Apsey on a 9-yard pass play with 9:47 to go, bringing the Lakers to within 12 points, 26-14. Peterson finished 15-of-20 for 254 yards and two touchdowns.