By Steve Gunn
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON – Friday will be the first time in a long time that Fruitport and Mona Shores will meet on the football field.
Besides being a great natural matchup between two neighboring schools with similar enrollment, the game at Mona Shores will have a lot of early season importance for both teams.
The Sailors and Trojans both had tight games in Week 1, but the outcomes were far different for each squad.
Mona Shores rallied from a first half deficit to post a thrilling 31-28 victory over Saline, a state-ranked power.
The win gave the Sailors fresh momentum in their push for a second straight state playoff appearance.
Fruitport lost a heartbreaker to Grand Haven, 17-13. The Trojans, who just missed out on the playoffs last season, will be eager to notch their first victory before heading into Lakes Conference play.
Both teams have a lot of returning starters from last season, and both expect to have great seasons.
But the game may be slightly more crucial for Fruitport, because an 0-2 start is not the right path to the playoffs.
“We’re not thinking about that,” said Fruitport coach Greg Vargas. “We’re thinking about being 1-1. We believe we can play with Mona Shores, despite what everyone else believes. That’s why they play the games on Friday.”
Mona Shores will be trying to capitalize on its great opening game against Saline.
The Sailors were down 21-12 in the second quarter, and more than a few folks were probably wondering if they had the same type of firepower as last season.
But Hunter Broersma caught a 37-yard touchdown pass from Tyree Jackson before halftime, narrowing the margin to 21-19. In the third quarter the Sailors took a 25-21 lead on a four-yard scoring run by DeOntay Moffett.
Two Jacob DeRemer field goals, from 22 and 27 yards, gave Mona Shores a 31-21 edge. Saline scored a touchdown in the final minute, but it was too little, too late.
Moffett, a senior who has lost much of his varsity career to injury, had a career-high 148 yards and three touchdowns.
“He hasn’t been able to finish a season yet,” said Mona Shores Coach Matt Koziak said of Moffett. “It was a collarbone injury when he was a freshman, a wrist when he was a sophomore, and his ankle as a junior.
“I tell a lot of colleges about him, but they haven’t been able to get a chance to evaluate him. If he stays healthy he’s going to get a lot of looks.”
Koziak was also pleased with DeRemer’s field goals and the play of his defense, which held Saline off the scoreboard for most of the second half.
“They didn’t score again until there wsa 1:03 left on the clock,” Koziak said. “We have seven starters back on defense, and it’s much improved.
“I always knew this was a pretty talented group. I knew they were tough because of the effort they give in the weight room. Now it’s really good to know we can be down at halftime against a very good team and still come back and win.”
Koziak said his team will not be taking Fruitport lightly.
“I went to the Fruitport-Grand Haven game, and I really thought Fruitport outplayed them,” Koziak said. “They moved the ball up and down the field with success.
“They’ve got a lot of guys that go both ways. In a hot, early September game, one key will be to try to wear them down. And we’re going to have to stop their power run game. They go a lot between the tackles.”
Vargas wasn’t terribly disappointed with the way his Trojans played against Grand Haven, which kicked the game-winning field goal with just over three minutes remaining.
If it weren’t for a couple of bad snaps on the final two offensive drives, the outcome might have been different.
The Trojans were forced to use a sophomore at center when starter Brad Chorny was injured, and while Vargas said the younger player performed well overall, the two snaps over the head of the quarterback doomed any chance for a dramatic win.
Nate Kriger led Fruitport with 111 yards rushing and 15 tackles on defense.
“We did move the ball,” Vargas said. “We did pretty much what we wanted to do. We led in first downs.”
Vargas thinks his team can play with Mona Shores, and said the key will be to keep the potent Sailor offense on the sideline as much as possible.
“First and foremost, we need to play good defense and contain Jackson and Moffett,” Vargas said. “Both are outstanding athletes. Jackson can whip that ball from anywhere, and Moffett can get up and go.
“We really need to play good defense with our offense. We need to move the ball, manufacture some plays, get first downs and keep the clock rolling.”
FRIDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL MATCHUPS
Fruitport at Mona Shores
Grand Rapids Christian at Muskegon
Grand Haven at East Lansing
Reeths-Puffer at Fremont
Montague at Oakridge
Muskegon Heights at Muskegon Catholic
Hart at North Muskegon
Shelby at Whitehall
Ravenna at Mason County Central
Holton at Eau Claire
Ludington at Hesperia
Orchard View at Manistee
Spring Lake at Holland