Quest for state title comes up short for Muskegon; Let the next journey begin [opinion]

 “When you choose to come to Muskegon, you choose to win a championship and have a hard work ethic. If you choose anything less, it’s unacceptable. My boys and I are ready to put this team on our backs and take this team to Ford Field.” – Muskegon offensive lineman Quincy Crosby in an August interview.

By Mike Mattson
Local Sports Journal

DETROIT – Quincy Crosby exited the somber Muskegon locker Friday afternoon with a lollypop in his mouth and 14 games under his belt.

He stood disappointed knowing his three-year career didn’t end as planned. The Big Reds made it to Ford Field, but finished Division 2 state runner-up after a thrilling 35-28 setback against Birmingham Brother Rice.

Quincy Crosby (72) was one of the senior leaders on this year’s Big Reds’ football team. Here, Crosby, along with teammates Marcus Smith (4), Dejontaye Patterson (18) and Antwan Billings (74) walk to the center of the field for the pregame coin toss. Photo/Tim Reilly

Finishing No. 2 is OK for some players and schools, but not for Crosby at Muskegon.

“It will take a long time to get over this – maybe the rest of my life,” said Crosby, who plays center in the middle of Muskegon’s big, talented offensive line.  “These are my brothers.”

On this day, the Warriors were the better team.

They opened up a 14-0 lead and never let the Big Reds take control of the momentum. Even in a wild fourth quarter, veteran Rice coach Al Fracassa went to his bag of tricks to score on two long gadget plays – a 77-yard flea flicker and a 91-yard  lateral on a kickoff return.

No doubt, the trick plays hurt.

Muskegon fought to the final whistle, with backup quarterback Deshaun Thrower scrambling for his life on the final play at midfield and unloading a ball into the end zone that had possibilities.

“I just wanted to put it up there and give us a chance,” Thrower said.

Muskegon ends the season at 12-2 and a library full of highlights.

Big-hearted Jalen Smith made plays at quarterback all season.

John King was a rock on both sides of the ball.

The offensive line – Antwan Billings, Noah Tozer, Chandar Ricks, Malik King and Crosby – led the way with many dominating performances.

The defensive line – Ronald Jenkins, Ken Finley, Jacob Sims and Dalvin Walton – were equally impressive.

There were plenty of playmakers like Marcus Smith, E’Monte Briggs, Javontae Langston, Sherman Hodges and Keondre Craig.

Will Hunt stepped in at inside linebacker and made tons of plays.

Adrian Briseno gave the kicking game a boost, including a late game-winning field goal against Lowell.

And linebacker Demetrius Brown played with all-out emotion every play, jumping and waving his two arms and pumping up the Big Reds’ faithful.

A play here or there, especially in the first half Friday, could have put Muskegon over the top.

Muskegon coach Shane Fairfield praised his team’s effort in a wild game to the end.

What did he tell his team afterward?

“I don’t have all the answers,” Fairfield said. “You never know why things happen. Everything happens for a reason.

“It’s not easy for these kids to get here and lose. That’s not our goal. The points we gave up will be hard to swallow. This team put Muskegon back on track to be a contending powerhouse.”

Muskegon survived a rugged early-season schedule and got hot in the playoffs.

The journey officially started in August and came up short in November.

Crosby and the seniors did their part. He hopes another title run begins soon and concludes with a different ending.

“All we can do is pass the torch to the young ones,” Crosby said. “I hope they use this experience and get a ring. At the end of the day, all you can leave is a legacy.”

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