MCC picks off star Waterford QB four times, walks away with a 7-0 win and third state football title in a row

By Steve Gunn and Dave Hart
LocalSportsJournal.com

DETROIT – All season long, Walker Christoffersen, Christian Martinez and LaTommy Scott have drawn raves for the yards they’ve gained and the points they’ve scored in Muskegon Catholic’s offensive backfield.LSJ Logo incert

But the three of them are also great defensive backs for the Crusaders.

They reminded everyone of that on Friday morning by going on an interception-fest in the biggest game of the year.

No. 88 Jacob Martinez, No. 33 Andrew Schulte and No. 6 Brody Kieft hold their hands up high after capturing the third-straight Division 8 state championship. Photo/Jason Goorman

No. 88 Jacob Martinez, No. 33 Andrew Schulte and No. 6 Brody Kieft hold their hands up high after capturing MCC’s third-straight Division 8 state championship. Photo/Jason Goorman

Christofferson picked off two passes, including one in the MCC end zone late in the fourth quarter to preserve a narrow lead. Martinez had one pick, which led to the game’s only touchdown – which he also scored – late in the third quarter.

Scott added one interception in the first half, helping to keep the game scoreless at halftime.

In the end the four interceptions were enough to propel Muskegon Catholic to a 7-0 victory over previously unbeaten Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes 7-0 in the Division 8 state championship game at Detroit’s Ford Field.

“It was a hard fought battle out there,” said MCC Coach Steve Czerwon, who now has three state titles in his three years on the job. “I don’t think anybody who followed these two teams expected the score to be 7-0, but that’s what it turned out to be.

“There is a lot of perseverance on this team. I am extremely happy we were able to gut it out.”

It was the third straight state title for the Crusaders, who finished 12-2 on the season. It was also the school’s 11th state football championship in history.

Muskegon Catholic quarterback Christian Martinez reacts after winning his team's third-straight state championship. Photo/Jason Goorman

Muskegon Catholic quarterback Christian Martinez reacts after winning his team’s third-straight state championship. Photo/Jason Goorman

Ironically, it was Waterford’s passing game that struck the most fear in the Crusaders prior to the game.

They had to face senior quarterback Clay Senerius, who was named the state’s Division 7-8 Player of the Year last week after amassing an incredible 2,940 yards and 34 touchdowns through the air in 13 previous games.

Serenius completed 17 of 27 passes for 193 yards on Friday, but of course his efforts resulted in no points.

Just about every time Senerius threw at a key moment on Friday, a Crusader was there to snag it.

“We had an outstanding week of practice on getting where we’re supposed to be,” Czerwon said. “The last time we played a good passing team was Week 1 and we didn’t fare too well.

“These kids showed they could play a good passing team and I am proud of the preparation they put in and they way they carried out the game plan.”

The two most important interceptions came in the second half.

MCC Coach Steve Czerwon hugs No. 6 Brody Kieft just before the Championship celebration. Photo/Jason Goorman

MCC Coach Steve Czerwon hugs No. 6 Brody Kieft just before the Championship celebration. Photo/Jason Goorman

The game was scoreless with a minute left in the third quarter when Senerius tried to throw deep into Catholic territory. But Martinez snagged the throw around the Crusader 35, which is where MCC took over the ball.

Martinez, a senior quarterback, then led the Crusades on a 7-play, 64-yard touchdown drive for the only points of the game.

The touchdown was set up by several key plays, including a 12-yard run by Logan Helton, a Martinez scramble for 13 yards on a third-and-three play, and a 23-yard run by Christoffersen.

Martinez finished the drive with eight-yard touchdown run about a minute and a half into the fourth quarter. Jose Zambrano added the extra point, putting MCC up 7-0.

“I was wondering when we were going to bust loose and score,” Martinez said.

But Waterford wasn’t done. The Lakers started their next possession on their own 30 with plenty of time – 10:13 – left on the clock.

MCC's No. 22 Mason Convertini and No. 33 Andrew Schulte look to contain Waterford's Isaac Oliver. Photo/Jason Goorman

MCC’s No. 22 Mason Convertini and No. 33 Andrew Schulte look to contain Waterford’s Isaac Oliver. Photo/Jason Goorman

They marched down the field with a 14-play drive to the MCC 15. The drive was maintained with two successful fourth-down conversions by the Lakers – at their own 39 and their own 49.

Senerius was going for the tying score when he threw into the end zone on second and eight with 3:21 remaining, but Christoffersen had tight coverage on the intended receiver and came up with the interception, ending the Laker threat.

“During practice we talked about staying deep and staying on our man,” Christoffersen said. “That’s what I did and I’m happy about the interception, but at the same time I was hot and tired. I knew it was a big play and I was glad I could make it for my team.”

The Crusaders then gained two first downs, including one on a 30-yard run by Christoffersen, to kill the clock and seal the state championship.

There was no score in the first half.

The Crusaders took the opening possession and drove to the Waterford 22. They barely missed a 44-yard field goal attempt when the ball hit the left goal post and bounced away.

Jacob Holt and the Crusaders celebrate after a team photo with the Division 8 state championship trophy. Photo/Jason Goorman

Jacob Holt and the Crusaders celebrate after a team photo with the Division 8 state championship trophy. Photo/Jason Goorman

Christoffersen gave MCC the ball back three plays later with an interception of a Senarius pass at the Crusader 40.

Waterford drove to the Catholic 44 early in the second quarter before Scott picked off another Senarius pass at the MCC 15.

The Lakers advanced to the MCC 17 with six minutes left it the first half, but a field goal attempt failed.

Waterford had one final drive, to the Crusader 16 with a minute left in the half, but it ended on downs with an incomplete pass into the end zone.

That led to the second half, two more MCC interceptions, Martinez’ touchdown and yet another title in MCC’s storied football history.

The game was as even statistically as it was on the scoreboard.

LaTommy Scott shakes hands with a Crusader fan after capturing the Division 8 state championship. Photo/Jason Goorman

LaTommy Scott shakes hands with a Crusader fan after capturing the Division 8 state championship. Photo/Jason Goorman

Waterford had a slight 241-215 edge in total offense. Waterford had a 193-17 advantage in passing yards while MCC led 198-48 in rushing.

Beyond getting the four interceptions, Catholic’s defense did a great job in shutting down Waterford’s running attack, which featured senior Chris Cartier, who had 1,264 yards rushing coming into the game.

Cartier ended up with 34 yards on 10 carries against MCC.

MCC’s Jacob  Holt was credited with 6.5  tackles, Nate Jones and Andrew Schulte added six apiece, Brody Kieft had five while Adam Benoit added four tackles and had one key sack of Senerius.

“We thought we had good success in stopping their run, like we had good success stopping everyone’s run this year,” Czerwon said.

Christoffersen finished with 113 yards rushing on 18 carries while Scott had 49 yards and Martinez added 47.

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