By Andrew Johnson

MUSKEGON – In 2018, the Muskegon Catholic Central football team went 3-6 and missed the state playoffs for the first time since 2010.

That was particularly tough for guys like Carson St. Amour, a fourth-year varsity player who experienced the playoffs in his first two seasons, including a state championship run in 2016, when the Crusaders won their fourth consecutive Division 8 crown.

“It was really special seeing all the seniors celebrate, and we had some big guys back then,” said St. Amour, a running back, safety and kicker for MCC. “Seeing them all work, it was really amazing watching them. Being a senior now, I want to see everyone having that same work ethic. It’s really a motivation to get back there.”

Last season was particularly tough for St. Amour, because he missed seven games due to an injury that required Tommy John surgery. He knew his team desperately needed him, and there was nothing he could do to help.

Carson St. Amour stands at the entrance of MCC’s Kehren Stadium. Photo/Jason Goorman

“It’s always tough to watch something like that,” he said. “You only wish to help the team. To have to sit there and watch was kind of painful.”

St. Amour is back on the field this fall, and is working hard to get one more taste of postseason action. His presence, and his versatile skill set, have definitely made a difference.

That was obvious in the season opening victory over Algonac, when he broke loose for a 50-yard touchdown run and had a 52-yard pick-six.

St. Amour also played a huge role last Friday in MCC’s 43-21 victory on the road over previously unbeaten Ludington. He rushed for 101 yards and three touchdowns, and caught two passes, including one for a TD.

The victory over Ludington was crucial for the Crusaders, who lost in Weeks 2 and 3 to Pontiac Notre Dame and Orchard View, respectively. MCC will need five wins to gain a guaranteed spot in the playoffs, so with only one win and five games remaining, beating the Orioles was a must.

“It felt amazing,” he said about last Friday’s win. “A lot of things were clicking. (Quarterback) Max Price did really well and it was a full team effort all the way around.”

Carson St. Amour finds room along the sideline for an MCC gain during the Crusader’s Week 1 win. Photo/Tim Reilly

St. Amour now has a total of 215 rushing yards and 116 receiving yards receiving this season. His ability to do damage on the ground, through the air and on defense makes him a priceless weapon for the Crusaders.

“He’s got good vision and patience,” said MCC Coach Steve Czerwon. “He’s got good acceleration and is extremely coordinated. He’s our kicker on extra points and kickoffs, and we can throw and hand him the ball. Overall he’s a very versatile kid.

“He’s also got a great attitude about everything. He’s a really good student and takes everything serious. He’s got good leadership skills and he’s someone, beyond high school, who will be successful.”

The loss to Orchard View, the second in two years, was an eye-opener and a motivator for the team heading into the Ludington game according to St. Amour. The Crusaders realized their backs were to the wall, and they pulled together when they had to.

“We got a talk from coach,” he said. “We talked about snapping the streak and keep things rolling. A lot of guys were more focused and serious. We didn’t want to lose another one.”

The victory over Ludington kept the Crusaders in contention for the Lakes 8 championship, but that’s not what they have in mind.

“We don’t talk about conference,” Czerwon said. “Our goal is to make the playoffs.”

St. Amour concurs, and said the team has been focused on returning to the postseason since missing out last year.

“Even before the season we had meetings with coach and the seniors,” he said. “We talked about leadership and making sure everyone is on the same track. It’s our goal and we talk weekly about it.”