By Mike Mattson
Local Sports Journal
MUSKEGON – Defending champion Birmingham Brother Rice may be the favorite, but it’s safe to say Mona Shores is definitely a prime contender for the Division 2 state title.
The Sailors made another statement Saturday night by blasting Caledonia 42-14 in the pre-district before 7,000 chilled fans at Sailor Stadium.
It was the first home playoff game and the school’s first playoff victory for the Sailors, who travel to second-ranked Midland Dow (10-0) Friday for the 7 p.m. district championship game.
Shores (9-1), ranked No. 3 in the state, followed up its impressive win against Muskegon last week by routing Caledonia for the second time this season. The Sailors did it with a lethal balanced offense and a defense that gets more respect each week.
“When we’ve got Tyree (Jackson) going and (DeOntay) Moffett going and Hunter (Broersma) going and Darece (Roberson) going, I’m not bragging, but I think we are very dangerous offensively,” said Shores coach Matt Koziak, whose team led 21-7 at halftime. “And the way our defense is playing.
“And our kids believe now. One of our missions was to win the OK Black, we did that. Make the playoffs, we did that. Now a district championship has never been done. That was our goal, so we want to make it to Ford Field. Our statement game tonight proved we can play with anybody.”
Jackson, the dual-threat quarterback, led the way again. He ran for one touchdown and completed 14-of-18 passes for 279 yards and three scores.
Shores churned out 426 total yards, including 147 on the ground.
Jackson and the Sailors put on quite a show for the home crowd and hope to keep the intensity going next week.
“We are trying to keep climbing up the ladder,” Jackson said. “This was Week 10 now and we have to focus on Week 11 and Midland Dow. It was a fun experience to play at home, but now we have to go to Midland and get a win. They are 10-0, so you have to respect them.”
Shores’ defense stepped up early and stopped Caledonia’s first drive on the Sailors’ 20-yard line. Four plays later, Jackson and Roberson hooked up on a 52-yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 lead.
Moffett’s 3-yard TD run made it 14-0 – a score that was set up by an 88-yard pass play from Jackson to Broersma.
Caledonia pulled within 14-7 when quarterback Tanner Christian scored on an 8-yard run on the Fighting Scots’ next possession.
But Shores got the momentum back before halftime, thanks to Noah Dykstra’s interception. Three plays later, Jackson scored on 2-yard run late in the second quarter for the 21-7 halftime lead.
Caledonia coach Tom Burrill knew his team had to finish drives and keep scoring with the Sailors. So the stalled first drive and interception really hurt.
““They are really fast and really athletic,” said Burrill, whose team also lost 40-7 to Shores in Week 4. “They can do what they want to do. They toy with you. They are physical up front especially on the defensive side of the ball.
“They are a heck of a team. That’s a team that is going to be playing Brother Rice or somebody in the state finals. They are that good.”
Both teams scored on their first possession of the third period.
Jackson connected with Broersma on a 7-yard TD pass to stretch the lead to 28-7. Caledonia answered with a 3-yard TD run from fullback Logan Soule to cut the margin to 28-14.
Shores put the game away with a nifty 39-yard TD pass from Jackson to Matt Schuiteman and a 2-yard TD run from Moffett with 5:25 left in the fourth quarter for the final 42-14 count.
Shores’ defense kept Caledonia out of the end zone the last 18 minutes of the game.
Caledonia finished with just 10 yards passing and 242 yards on the ground. Senior standout running back Eddie Kelly totaled 119 yards on 23 carries.
“I said at beginning of the year our defense would be very special,” Koziak said. “I was so proud of the way we tackled tonight. (Kelly) is so tough to tackle one on one and two on one, he’s like a bowling ball.”
Moffett carried 14 times for 85 yards and two TDs. Broersma made three catches for 115 yards and a TD and Schuiteman caught four passes for 65 yards and one TD.
Koziak cited Jackson again for orchestrating another efficient offense game.
“At Muskegon, he played lights out,” Koziak said. “Tonight he played lights out. He’s just got so much command of our offense and everyone on the team knows when he’s going, we’re unstoppable. We really are.”
Beating a team twice in one season is never easy. And Koziak knows beating Caledonia twice says something about his squad.
“I think we made a pretty good (statement) because they are such a good team,” Koziak said. “You look at what they did against Rockford, you look at what they did against Lowell. They blanked those guys.
“I thought we played really well against them the first time and then we came out and played well the second time.”