By Adam Knorr
Local Sports Journal
ALMA – Muskegon Catholic’s senior quarterback Nick Holt sat on a bench on the sidelines, a jacket over his jersey and tape around his left ankle.
Junior quarterback Christian Martinez filled in under center and effectively facilitated the Wing T offense. His primary job was handing the ball to senior halfback Tommy Scott – a role he performed well.
Scott rushed for 253 yards and two touchdowns as Muskegon Catholic (13-0) disposed of Harbor Beach 42-6 Saturday in the Division 8 semifinals at Alma College. The Crusaders will attempt to defend their state championship Friday in the title game against Munising at Detroit’s Ford Field.
“We played good… Our quarterback got hurt and he’s one of the captains,” Scott said. “We picked up very well after seeing him come out. They were a tough team and we came out ready to fight.”
“What we did today was definitely enough to have the score we had,” said MCC head coach Steve Czerwon, who won a state title last season as a first-year coach. “Some of these kids are going to make maybe their 41st start in varsity football, and that’s really incredible.”
Holt went out in the first quarter with a left ankle injury, but MCC’s offense continued to do what it’s done all season – roll over opponents with its powerful ground game.
MCC threw just three passes on the day, gaining all of its 398 yards on the ground, while holding Harbor Beach to 140 total yards on offense. The Crusaders forced three turnovers while giving up none.
Junior lineman Jacob Holt, Nick’s brother, helped create gaping holes for the rushing attack, throwing lead blocks and making his presence felt on defense as well.
“He’s so versatile,” Czerwon said about Jacob Holt. “He’s our guard, he pulls on a lot of plays… at the same time we line him up in the backfield and ask him to do some things. The versatility that he has brings a really good dimension to our team, no question.”
With the win, the Crusaders avenged a 32-27 loss to Harbor Beach in the 2012 semifinals.
After a Nate Jones interception deep in the red zone in the first quarter, MCC took over on its own 8-yard line. One play later, Tommy Scott broke free for an 89-yard touchdown and the rout was on.
With just over five minutes to go in the second quarter, Martinez broke the plane on fourth and goal to give MCC a 14-0 lead. Soon after, senior Blake Sanford took a handoff 8 yards into the end zone to put the Crusaders up 21-0.
Harbor Beach managed to find its way onto the scoreboard before halftime. A fourth down desperation heave from quarterback Josh Schelke tipped off Jones’ hands and into the lap of Pirate receiver Tyler Volerming.
The Pirates missed the extra point, and MCC took a 21-6 lead into the break. The Crusaders outgained Harbor Beach 203 to 103 in the first half, with all 203 yards coming on the ground.
The second half was more of the same. The MCC defense devoured ball carriers, Tommy Scott racked up yards and Sanford added to the assault.
“Tommy’s really fast,” Czerwon said. “That’s really not a secret. I don’t know how you imitate him in practice. When you get on turf like this it’s really tough to make a play on him.”
Sanford darted in from three yards out for his second score of the day early in the third quarter.
MCC’s defense followed with a stop, and minutes later it was Scott’s turn again as he ripped off a 20-yard run to put MCC up 35-6.
Sophomore LaTommy Scott got in on the action, notching his own touchdown run from 5 yards out for the final score of the game.
Schalke, an elusive dual-threat quarterback, did his best to keep the Pirates in the game, but his efforts proved fruitless thanks to the MCC defense and a lack of offensive help.