Muskegon Catholic hoping to continue playoff domination of Beal City in Saturday’s Division 8 district finals

By Adam Knorr
LocalSportsJournal.com

MUSKEGON – After one playoff game, the Muskegon Catholic football team looks more than ready to make a run at a third consecutive Division 8 state title.

Despite losing two regular season games, the Crusaders looked a lot like their undefeated team from last year, blowing out Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart 49-7.lsj-fb-logo

Now the Crusaders will go on the road to face Beal City, a Mount Pleasant-area school, Saturday at 1:30 p.m.A96I9272

The Aggies are a familiar opponent for MCC fans. The Crusaders have played them five times since 2006, going 4-1 in that span. The most recent meeting was in the 2013 state finals, which MCC won 35-12.

Muskegon Catholic nearly met Beal City again in last year’s state finals. The Aggies lost to Munising 10-7 in the semifinals. The Crusaders beat Munising 31-6 in the title game.

The Aggies are on a roll, having won five straight games while scoring 32, 41, 48, 35 and 37 points, respectively.  Like MCC, the Aggies had no trouble in their first round playoff game last week, beating Vestaburg 37-0.

Beal City is a Division 8 rarity, running a number of different sets on offense –  specifically a pro set which features a tight end and two running backs, and a shotgun spread formation.

The Aggies obviously have some players who can cause concern, including running back Chase Rollin, who has 1,046 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns this season.

Rollin is also obviously dangerous on kickoff returns, gaining 368 yards on 12 returns for an average of 32.7 yards and one touchdown.A96I0032

Another running back that will deserve attention is Jake Matthews, who has 546 yards on 66 carries this season.

Quarterback Tucker Gross will throw the ball – he is 60 of 97 for 801 yards and nine touchdowns.

The Crusaders will look to four-year starters Nate Jones and Jacob Holt to align their defense properly, based on the different sets Beal City may use.

Jones got off to a great start last week, snagging two pick-six interceptions in the opening minutes to set the tone for the Crusaders.

“We just have to be able to recognize formations and play out of different formations and get to your assignments,” said MCC Coach Steve Czerwon. “Everybody has (an assignment) to do based on the defensive set.”

Defensively, the key for any team trying to beat MCC is slowing down the Crusader three-headed rushing attack of LaTommy Scott, Logan Helton and Walker Christoffersen, who have combined for more than 1,500 yards rushing this season.A96I0282

The Crusaders can also rack up yards through the air. Senior quarterback Christian Martinez threw for 439 yards and nine touchdowns during the regular season. That option could come in handy for MCC, because Beal City has given up 1,192 yards through the air this season while gaining 801.

“They’re not as big as some past Beal City teams up front,” Czerwon said of the Aggie defense. “Sometimes that means nothing but at the same time, they’re aggressive up front and they’ve only lost one ballgame. They’ve shut a lot of people down rushing the ball.”

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