Fruitport win over Muskegon Catholic Central should pay dividends for Trojans [OPINION]

By Mike Mattson
Local Sports Journal

Let’s give it up for the Fruitport football team.

The Trojans did something out of the norm – they filled an open date by scheduling state-power Muskegon Catholic Central.  The two teams met Friday night at Kehren Stadium before a large crowd with Fruitport claiming a thrilling 24-21 overtime victory.

This was not the cleanest football game I’ve ever seen. There were penalties and lots of turnovers and mistakes not usually associated with Week 8 play.

But this was an exciting contest filled with big plays and drama to the very end.

Fruitport settled for a field goal on its four-down, overtime possession from the 10-yard line. And then it was a near Super Bowl celebration after Tyler Fehler intercepted an MCC pass in the end zone to preserve the Trojans’ thrilling win and unbeaten season.

Signature win?

“I think so,” Fruitport coach Greg Vargas said in the middle of a joyous Fruitport celebration. “Anytime your kids stay on track and the coaches stay focused and you win in overtime it’s a signature win.

“This was great,” Vargas added. “We play for our fans and our community and that’s what it’s all about in high school football.”

Fruitport (8-0) hopes the big win will pay dividends in the state playoffs. The Trojans were in a dogfight and beating MCC can only help their confidence down the road.

The Trojans had to rely on some clutch passing from Fehler and they also needed a long fumble recovery for a touchdown by senior lineman Alan Jones in the fourth quarter.

“This is a big deal,” Jones said. “We’re 8-0 and it’s a wonderful feeling. They are a hard-hitting team and we just had to give it back to them.”

Indeed, this was a physical game between two programs that don’t shy away from contact.

In the end, the Crusaders (5-3) were haunted by three lost fumbles and an interception. They also had two field goals blocked.

MCC’s youth showed at times, but the Crusaders’ young offensive line held its own for most of the game against the bigger Trojans.

MCC has made big strides since its season-opening loss at Mona Shores and senior two-way end Cari Campbell expects the Crusaders to finish strong next week at Traverse City St. Francis.

“We’ll bounce back next week for Traverse City,” Campbell said. “We’ll come out and play hard this week in practice.

“It was a real good game tonight. We are still a young team. We made a lot of mistakes and tonight we just didn’t come through.”

MCC can qualify for the Division 8 playoffs with five wins, but the Crusaders would like to secure victory No. 6 at St. Francis.

Fruitport, meanwhile, will face another strong test next week at DeWitt (6-2).

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