By Mark Lewis
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON – Muskegon Catholic Central head coach Steve Czerwon didn’t have to look too far for examples of how he wanted his team to play, and how he didn’t want them to play, in Saturday’s Division 8 regional title game against Mendon.
That is, while last year’s 28-6 win over the Hornets is an example of what the Crusaders will need to do to come away with a win, 2011’s 28-21 district-title loss is an example of what MCC will need to avoid if the team has any hope of moving on to the state semifinals.
Last year, the Crusaders’ offense efficiently moved the ball, avoiding turnovers and holding the Hornet offense in check. Conversely, two years ago Catholic suffered through a turnover-plagued performance, while also allowing several big Mendon scores.
Like the previous two seasons, the game will take place on the Hornets’ home field.
“We learned in 2011 that we can’t make a lot of mistakes and expect to win,” said Czerwon. “Last year we didn’t do those things and we won. Last year gives us a pretty good blueprint.”
Looking to undermine the Crusaders’ plan will be Hornet twin backs Kaleb
McCarroll and Elijah Klepper, although Mendon’s ground game starts up front with Division 1 college lineman prospect Logan Slaughter. The Hornets lost starting quarterback Jordan Medich during Week 9’s 39-6 victory over Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart Academy. Robert Riley replaces Medich under center.
The Hornets feature a base I-formation set, preferring to insist on execution and efficiency instead of flash and dash.
Controling the line of scrimmage will be important in the Crusaders’ efforts to stop the Hornet offensive attack and sneak out a victory, starting with defensive linemen Michael Caughey and Jaeden MacPherson.
Mendon’s defense has been dominant all season long, surrendering just 19 points through 11 games, including eight shutouts, and just six points across the last night contests. Alternating between a 40 and 50 looks, Mendon dominates opponents with an exacting focus on dominating the line.
The Hornets, though, haven’t faced as potent an offense as Catholic’s, which is paced by senior running back Alex Lewandoski and junior slash back Tommy Scott. Junior quarterback Nick Holt can beat teams with his arm and legs, and tight end Ian Tyler is a constant possession threat in the passing game.
“We want to use our speed to gain the edge,” said Czerwon. “We haven’t turned over the ball in awhile, and we need to keep that streak going this Saturday. We really can’t make too many mistakes against them because they will make us pay. If we play mistake free, we should be in pretty good shape.”
MCC is the lone area team to have to travel to its third-round game, a fact that doesn’t seem to faze Czerwon in the slightest.
“We’ll leave tomorrow for Mendon at 9 a.m.,” said Czerwon. “Sure, there are a lot of things that make this week different from the past 11 weeks: playing on Saturday afternoon, traveling in the morning, that kind of thing. But we’re not too worried about it. We actually like to play on Saturday because it gives us an extra day to practice some things, to shore up a few things before we play the game.”