By Nate Thompson
Thursday evening, Koziak said he received some text messages from a select group of his Mona Shores Sailors, indicating they weren’t going to help Rockford Coach Ralph Munger get to his 300th career victory.
That guarantee was fulfilled by Mona Shores, as Munger remained stuck at 299 on Friday after the Sailors scored a convincing 31-10 victory on their home field.
Mona Shores improved to 3-0 on the season. The Sailors beat Rockford for the first time since 1993 and avenged their only regular season loss from last season.
“Don’t get me wrong, I want him to get to 300,” Koziak said with a laugh. “But that’s just these kids. It’s not cockiness, it’s just a certain confidence this group of kids has. It’s something I think even last year’s team didn’t have.”
“We definitely thought about (revenge),” said Sailors’ senior linebacker Spencer Stube, who had a key first-half sack and helped Mona Shores hold the visitors to 91 yards of total offense.. “We felt like we needed to take this back.”
Mona Shores was jolted into action on the game’s first play, as Rockford standout Tyler Bradfield returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown.
But the Sailors responded right away, turning in a 15-play drive that ended in quarterback Tyler Trovinger slicing through the Rams’ defensive line for a 2-yard touchdown.
It was all Mona Shores from there.
The Sailors had four possessions that lasted 11 plays or longer — a key in keeping the Rams’ offense grounded.
It was the start to another tremendous showing from Trovinger, the Sailors’ senior signal caller.
Again running the Sailors’ option attack at a breakneck pace, Trovinger completed 17-of-27 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns — each to receiver Darece Roberson.
Trovinger also amassed 109 yards on the ground on 23 attempts, with one score.
“We knew it was going to be tough to get big plays against Rockford,” Koziak said. “They’re excellent tacklers and with their style, it’s like ‘nothing deep, nothing cheap.’ I thought Trov was outstanding. He was about 95 percent on with his reads. He was lights out against a very good defense.”
The Sailors turned a Rockford interception from quarterback Jason Whittaker into a short drive and a 2-yard touchdown pass to Roberson near the end of the first to take their first lead at 14-7.
The Rams trimmed it to 14-10 on a jaw-dropping 51-yard field goal by kicker Quinn Nordin, one of the best prep kickers in the Midwest who is committed to Penn State.
But the Sailors answered right back. On a 4th-and-9 play, Trovinger lofted a perfectly thrown ball over the middle to Roberson, who hauled it in for a 24-yard touchdown.
Mona Shores made it 24-10 on a 23-yard field goal by Kevin Quigg with under 5 minutes remaining in the third, and that cushion was more than enough for the Sailors’ defense.
The unit still has not allowed an offensive touchdown through three weeks, and it’s not all that surprising to Stube and the rest of the Sailors.
“Everyone was staying home, reading their keys, knowing what they’re supposed to do and staying disciplined,” Stube said. “Our big guys up front were keeping their offensive linemen off the linebackers, helping us make plays.”
Koziak gushed about the brick walls on the Shores defensive line in Christian Boyd and Mike Bordeaux, a pair of three-year starting linemen.
“Our defensive line, especially, they’re so unselfish because they have to take on a lot of double teams and blow up a lot of traps,” Koziak said.
Trovinger capped his night with a gorgeous 25-yard pass to Roberson in the corner of the end zone with just 51 seconds left for the game’s final score.
Roberson totaled eight catches for 89 yards, while fellow big-play receiver Kobe Burse added five grabs for 64 yards. On the ground, bruising tailback Dom Shermeta led the Sailors with 126 yards on 18 carries.