By Mike Mattson
Local Sports Journal
NORTON SHORES – When the going got tough last Saturday for Mona Shores in the Division 3 state football semifinals, running back DeOntay Moffett got going.
“We knew with all the hard work we put in, we didn’t want to be done yet,” recalled Moffett, who had a 13-yard touchdown run and a pair of catches for two-point conversions, including the dramatic game-winning catch. “We wanted to win another and keep it going.
“We’ve been working hard this whole offseason. I think we should be good to go. We have one more game in us. I think we can win it.”
Moffett and the Sailors (12-1) will seek a Division 2 state championship Friday when they face Warren DeLaSalle (10-3) at Detroit’s Ford Field. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. and follows the 10 a.m. Division 8 state title game between Muskegon Catholic Central and Munising.
Mona Shores is making its first appearance in a state title game after winning the school’s first district and regional titles this fall.
Four-year starting quarterback Tyree Jackson suffered a dislocated kneecap against Harrison. He was on crutches at Monday’s practice after having the knee drained of fluid on Sunday.
Mona Shores coach Matt Koziak said Jackson will rehab the injury the rest of the week and be fitted with a knee brace in hopes of playing against DeLaSalle.
“It’s day-to-day,” Koziak said. “Hopefully, we’ll get him out throwing on it on Wednesday – the sooner the better, we want him to practice.
“The knee is solid, there is no tear and he can put pressure on it. I’m sure there will be some pain, but he can’t hurt it any worse. I know he will try to grind it out. He’s going to do whatever he can to get out there and play.”
Jackson has produced nearly 3,000 total yards this season and 36 touchdowns as a dual-threat quarterback.
Koziak said backup quarterback Tyler Trovinger suffered a slight concussion against Harrison. Trovinger is hoping to get clearance from doctors to play Friday. Koziak said Trovinger likely will play his usual spot at free safety if he gets clearance.
Third-string quarterback Elijah Wilson, who threw a fourth-quarter TD pass and the winning two-point conversion to Moffett in the semifinals, and senior Noah Dykstra also are taking reps under center this week in practice, just in case.
DeLaSalle is no stranger to Muskegon-area football fans. Muskegon defeated the Pilots 34-14 in the 2008 Division 2 finals and 32-30 in the 2006 Division 2 finals.
DeLaSalle has been on a roll with seven straight wins since losing three straight games in the middle of the season – to Birmingham Brother Rice (28-21), Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (14-10) and Dearborn Fordson (28-24).
In the playoffs, the Pilots eliminated Grosse Pointe North 43-14, Detroit East English 21-14, two-time defending state champion Brother Rice 26-21 and Southfield 31-7.
“When you watch film on them, the first thing that pops out to me is they are a physical hit-you- in-the-mouth kind of team,” Koziak said. “They are physical, great tacklers. Offensively, they mix it up. They want to run the football and they can throw as well.
“They absolutely deserve to be in this game. I know Brother Rice was the talk of the year. They played them tough the first time, and the second time I thought they handled them pretty good.”
Key offensive players for DeLaSalle are Joey Gabarino, who scored on runs of 1 and 10 yards and caught an 18-yard TD pass against Southfield in the semis, and Allen Stritzinger, who had 19 carries for 96 yards and a touchdown.
The Sailors are riding high after last week’s impressive win and Koziak doesn’t expect any letdown against the Pilots.
“We will approach it like it’s another team,” Koziak said. “Our kids will be jacked to be at Ford Field. Last week was emotional. This is a special group. It’s a hungry group. They are not content at all.
“They will go to Ford Field and expect to win. They will play their butts off to win and won’t overlook anybody. It will be fun and they will be up to the challenge.”