By Steve Gunn
Local Sports Journal
NORTON SHORES – Mona Shores quarterback Tyree Jackson remembers his team’s only loss of the season.
Well, the weather was not friendly on Friday either, with a slick field and icy temperatures following an early winter blast.
But Jackson and the Sailors couldn’t have been hotter.
The senior quarterback was as dominant has he’s been all season, throwing for 328 yards and two touchdowns, and rushing for 85 yards and three more touchdowns (unofficial totals), as the Sailors pounded Battle Creek Lakeview 39-0 on their home field in a Division 2 regional championship game.
The Sailors, now 11-1 on the season, advance to next weekend’s state semifinals against the winner of Saturday’s Farmington Hills Harrison-Flushing regional final.
“Everyone has been doubting us about bad (weather conditions) since Rockford week, and that’s been on my walls and in my locker since then,” said Jackson, who played his final game at home following a four-year career as a starting varsity quarterback. “I’ve been feeding off that stuff. This didn’t affect us at all.”
Mona Shores, appearing in the playoffs for only the second season in school history, continued to make the postseason look easy.
The Sailors downed Caledonia 42-14 in their first playoff game, then beat Midland Dow 41-14 last week. That means they have outscored three elite opponents by a combined score of 122-28.
“It’s a huge trophy to win,” said Mona Shores Coach Matt Koziak about the school’s first regional title. “One of our goals this year was to win a conference championship, we got that, and then to make a run in the playoffs, which we are doing. Another goal was to get a chance to play for a state title. Hopefully they get a chance to do that.
“This is a huge accomplishment. It can’t be overlooked. I couldn’t be happier for these kids. They deserve every bit of it.”
Jackson’s performance nearly overshadowed the heroics of the Mona Shores defense, which completely shut down Lakeview’s powerful running attack all night.
The Spartans only managed to gain 28 offensive yards in the first half, with one first down. The visitors were held to 29 yards in the second half, with two first downs, before the Sailors started substituting on defense in the final minutes.
“Our defense absolutely does not get enough credit,” Koziak said. “We shut out a 9-1 football team and we’re very happy about that.”
The first quarter was scoreless as the teams adjusted to the cold and icy conditions.
The Sailors started finding their game near the end of the first quarter, when Jackson completed a 55-yard pass to Matt Schuiteman around the Lakeview 30-yard line. But Schuiteman lost the ball after the catch and Lakeview recovered the fumble to dodge an early bullet.
But Mona Shores cashed in on its next possession, driving 66 yards in 10 plays for a touchdown. Jackson sparked the drive with an 18-yard pass to Darece Roberson, a 12-yard pass to Kobe Burse and a 22-yard completion to Hunter Broersma.
Jackson capped the drive with a screen pass to Burse, who weaved through several defenders for a five-yard touchdown. The PAT kick failed, leaving Mona Shores up 6-0.
The Sailors lost another fumble at the Lakeview 11 on their next drive, but compensated on their following possession with a seven-play, 53-yard scoring effort, which ended with an eight-yard TD run by Jackson.
Jacob DeRemer’s extra point kick was good, giving Mona Shores a 13-0 halftime lead.
The Sailors didn’t waste any time taking control of the game in the third quarter.
It started on the second play from scrimmage, when Broersma leaped and intercepted a Lakeview pass at the 50-yard line.
Three plays later Jackson hit Burse with a 41-yard completion, then finished the job by sweeping to the right and outracing the defense to the end zone pylon for a nine-yard touchdown run.
The PAT failed, leaving Mona Shores with a 19-0 lead.
Five plays later Mona Shores’ Zach Hellman intercepted another Lakeview pass around the visitors’ 22 and raced for a touchdown. The two-point conversion attempt failed and the Sailors led 25-0.
Mona Shores followed with an eight-play, 53-yard touchdown drive to take a 32-0 lead. Burse took a pass from Jackson and raced along the sideline for a 23-yard touchdown, and DeRemer’s extra point made the score 32-0 after three quarters.
The Sailors finished their offensive display at the start of the fourth quarter, when Jackson completed a 25-yard pass to Broersma, scrambled for a 22-yard gain, then found the end zone with a five-yard run. The extra point made the score 39-0, which led to a running clock for the rest of the contest.