By Mike Mattson
Local Sports Journal
Mona Shores senior fullback Darnell Longmire walked off Kehren Stadium last year in tears after a blowout loss to Muskegon Catholic Central.
“I was devastated,” Longmire recalled. “This year we are together like glue. When you are together like glue you can pull together for a 42-6 victory.”
The Sailors pulled together and stuck it to the Crusaders 42-6 Friday night before 6,500 fans in the season opener at Sailor Stadium.
Shores led 14-0 halftime and pulled away for a rare running clock in the fourth quarter against the Crusaders.
Chris Bradford scored two touchdowns in the second quarter and Longmire added a pair of TD runs in the fourth quarter to propel the Sailors.
“We worked hard and we deserved this,” said Longmire, who carried 23 times for a game-high 166 yards. “It was all the work we put into the offseason and the preparation we did this week and the attitude on the field that we would not let up.”
Shores relied on a big-play offense, vastly-improved defense and physical play from start to finish.
Shores coach Matt Koziak raved about his seniors afterward.
“It’s all about our seniors,” Koziak said. “The seniors had never beaten Catholic. (MCC) really took it to us last year. It was a true role reversal from last year. I can’t say enough about my seniors.”
It almost looked like a M*A*S*H unit on the MCC sidelines after the game as the Crusaders suffered many injuries, including the loss of quarterback Zach Campbell (shoulder), two-way end Cari Campbell (collarbone) and running back Jessie Anderson (ankle).
“In all my years here, we’ve never had this many guys hurt,” said MCC coach Mike Holmes, whose young team hurt itself with four turnovers. “I have four captains and three are injured. I think we had 17 healthy guys at the end.
“Mona Shores had a great plan and executed. I was concerned about people in space and making tackles.”
Alex Lewandoski had a big night on both sides of the ball to lead the Crusaders.
Big plays sparked the Sailors.
It started when quarterback Tyree Jackson hooked up with Bradford on a 59-yard scoring play on a bubble screen.
Bradford added a 21-yard scoring run to put the Sailors up 14-0 just before halftime.
“I thought we could get them with our tempo and wear them down,” Koziak said about his team’s no-huddle spread attack.
The Sailors took control, scoring on their first possession of the third quarter on a 68-yard scoring pass from Jackson to Asantay Brown.
Koziak went to his bag of tricks and called a perfect double pass from Jackson to Brown, who lofted the ball to Marquon Sargent for a 79-yard scoring strike.
The Sailors led 28-0 with 8:56 left in the third quarter, but MCC didn’t quit.
Backup sophomore quarterback Nick Holt led the Crusaders on their best drive of the night. MCC covered 71 yards, with Holt scoring on a 1-yard sneak.
“I thought Nick Holt did an admirable job considering the circumstances,” Holmes said.
Longmire capped the scoring for the Sailors with a pair of scoring runs (5, 41) in the fourth quarter.
Longmire credited his offensive line for paving the way – Collin Sullivan, Alek Jend, Rodolfo Fierros, Brandon Gue and Jacob Bordeaux.
“All week, (Koziak) said we were men among boys,” Jend said. “You can say things, but the pads do the talking. Everybody had us losing this game, but we showed them.”
Shores’ defense was led by senior linebacker David Bloom, who made 15 tackles, with Brown making seven stops and Cody Schneider adding five tackles, a fumble recovery and an interception. Gage Veltman and Bradford also had interceptions.
Defensive end Landon Kresnak also played a solid game on the perimeter for Shores.
“We believed in ourselves,” Kresnak said. “We won this one, but it doesn’t mean anything. Spring Lake is next and we have the 24-hour rule. We’ll keep working.”
Jackson completed 7-of-12 passes for 79 yards.
Bradford finished with 79 yards rushing and three catches for 72 yards. Brown totaled three catches for 84 yards and Bradford had three catches for 72 yards.