By Justin Haggerty
Local Sports Journal

The Muskegon Catholic Central Crusaders had a chance to capture their first conference title in 29 years against Orchard View on Friday night.

Much like the rest of the season, MCC had its way, this time defeating OV 49-14 at Cardinal Stadium on Parents night.

Nick Holt breaks through the OV line. Photo/Tim Reilly

Nick Holt breaks through the OV line. Photo/Tim Reilly

“We’re just getting ready to play in the playoffs, it was another step toward hosting home games in the playoffs,” MCC coach Steve Czerwon said after the league-clinching victory.

This is the first year the Crusaders (7-0, 5-0) have been in a conference since the Lake Michigan Athletic Conference disbanded in 1985.

In the five conference games this year, the Crusaders have outscored their opponents 263-28, including shutouts of Ludington and Spring Lake.

It didn’t take long for MCC to get on the board, taking the opening drive six plays and 66 yards, culminating in a 20-yard touchdown pass from Nick Holt to Blake Sanford with 9:32 remaining in the first quarter.

“Nick threw the ball exceptionally well, we showed that we have a good passing game to complement our run game,” said Czerwon. “They tried to take away some things in our run game that left some things in the passing open. We saw that, and we were able to convert.”

After the Crusader defense forced a punt, the offense put together another six play drive that was topped off with a Tommy Scott 42-yard scamper at 3:16 to put MCC up 14-0.

After MCC recovered a Kris Wells fumble, Holt sprinted to the Cardinal 10-yard line, only to be called back for holding. The next play was a 21- yard touchdown pass from Holt to Sanford to put the Crusaders up 21-0.

Logan Helton finished first-quarter scoring with 58 seconds to play with a 65-yard jaunt to the end zone to put MCC up 28-0.

Lamar Jordan catches the pass and runs in for six. Photo/Tim Reilly

Lamar Jordan catches the pass and runs in for six. Photo/Tim Reilly

With 3:40 to play in the first half, Holt launched a 46-yard touchdown pass to Lamar Jordan III to put MCC up 34-0. Griffen Seymour tacked on his 43rd extra point of the season to make it 35-0.

With 18 seconds to play in the second quarter, Holt scored on 5-yard plunge to put the Crusaders up 42-0 at halftime.

“We came into this season with a goal to qualify for the playoffs,” said Czerwon. “We achieved that goal, and now we’re looking ahead to how we can best prepare ourselves for what we’re going to look at in the second season that starts in week ten.”

After a scoreless third quarter that featured a running clock, Helton contributed a 5-yard touchdown run to finish the Crusaders’ scoring at 49.

The Cardinals would get points with 4:59 to play on a Bobby Clanton 3-yard touchdown run and a touchdown pass from Anthony Martin to Wells as time expired.

“We did pretty good in the conference this year,” said Czerwon. “We know we have two tough opponents to finish our year out with, Detroit Country Day and Ravenna.”

MCC outgained Orchard View, 430-163 in total offense, including 327-60 on the ground.

Tommy Scott led all rushers with 146 yards on just seven carries. Helton chipped in with four carries, 78 yards and two touchdowns. Bobby Clanton paced the Cardinals with 39 yards on five carries and a touchdown.

Orchard View (4-3, 2-3) will look to get back on track next week against Muskegon Heights. They need to win their final two games to qualify for the MHSAA playoffs.