By Adam Knorr
Since 1975, the two programs have won a combined 13 state championships.
That will end Friday, when the Crusaders and Eagles will open up the 2015 season with a late August showdown at Russell Erickson Stadium at Oakridge at 7 p.m.
The game will be even more meaningful because both teams return quite a few skilled players and are expected to be very good again this season. It’s not inconceivable that both could end up playing for state honors in late November.
“It’s great for the two teams, both coming from very passionate football communities,” said MCC Coach Steve Czerwon.
Muskegon Catholic is coming into the contest on quite a roll, having won two straight Division 8 state championships and 26 straight games, dating back to Sept. 6, 2013.
MCC is currently tied with the 2004-05 Orchard View Cardinals for the longest modern day winning streak in Muskegon County history. The all-time record belongs to Muskegon Heights, which won 31 straight between 1932-36.
Czerwon, however, is one to downplay the streak.
“It’s never once come up around our team,” Czerwon said. “We’re just trying to make each week the best it can be.”
Oakridge Coach Cary Harger was aware that the Crusaders were on a winning streak, but the fact they could make history didn’t ring a bell.
“To be honest, I know they’ve gone undefeated the last few years, but I didn’t know about the all-time streak,” he said. “But I know our kids are aware they’ve got quite a win streak going, so yeah, that’s something to wear on our sleeve and say we were able to snap that win streak.”
Oakridge may not be playing for a record, but the Eagles are expected to be very good again this year.
The Eagles are coming off an 8-2 season and a West Michigan Conference championship. They have not lost more than two games in a season since 2010.
“This is a game with two tradition rich football programs and the teams have never faced each other before on varsity, so that’s a little bit of a rarity as long as the programs have been around,” Harger said. “It’s a big test for week one.”
One interesting aspect of Friday’s early showdown will be the passing game.
Oakridge quarterback Brady Luttrull passed for 1,661 yards and 21 touchdowns last year, and he was only a sophomore. He will have the benefit of throwing to his favorite targets again this year, receivers Nate Wahr, James Cooper III and Jaegar Beattie.
MCC didn’t throw a lot last year, because it wasn’t necessary with an unstoppable running game. But new starting quarterback Christian Martinez, who started three regular season games and a playoff game last year in place of injured starter Nick Holt, reportedly has the best arm of any MCC signal caller in years.