By Mitchell Boatman

NORTON SHORES – Something about playoff football brings out unsung heroes.

For Mona Shores on Friday night, it was seniors Kolbe Trovinger and Jaylen Hopson who stepped into the spotlight in a 35-12 win over Midland Dow in a Division 2 district title game at Sailor Stadium.

Both players are regular contributors for the Sailors, but with a slew of offensive playmakers on the team, they don’t always get the attention.

But Trovinger and Hopson both made some very big plays to spark the Sailors at the end of the first half, before the team pulled away in the second.

Trovinger scored the game’s first touchdown and put the Sailors up for good, while Hopson scored the second TD with an exciting pick-six.

“The first score was huge, and I think even bigger when Hopson got the pick-6,” said Mona Shores Coach Matt Koziak. “That was kind of a back-breaker right before the half.”

Kolbe Trovinger breaks tackles on the outside and takes it in for the Sailor’s first touchdown. Photo/Eric Sturr

The win gives Mona Shores its third district title in program history, and second in a row for the very first time.

“It feels great,” Koziak said. “I don’t think it’s really set in yet. It’s a special group, and to be able to win it at home for our seniors, our last game on this field for these seniors, we’re going to enjoy it. The more time that passes, I’ll enjoy it even more.”

The Sailors are two wins away from making another trip to Detroit’s Ford Field, where they fell in the Division 2 state finals last season.

“It motivates us a lot,” Trovinger said about last year’s state final. “We honestly were so close that game and it slipped away at the end. We want to get back to Ford Field and win it this time. We’re not just trying to get there, we’re trying to win it.”

The Sailors will travel to play Portage Northern in the regional round of the playoffs next week.

Neither team was able to find the end zone on their first two drives. The Sailors finally broke through on their third possession with a 15-yard touchdown run by Trovinger. The senior took a jet sweep to the left end, turned upfield and dove to the pylon, just staying in bounds. The extra point put the Sailors up 7-0.

On the next possession, the Chargers attempted a trick play that backfired. Quarterback Shane Juday handed off to Kaleb Studebaker on a reverse. Studebaker ran right before firing back across the field to Juday.

Mona Shores’ Brady Rose finds the opening for a big gain. Photo/Eric Sturr

Hopson read the play perfectly, jumped the route, intercepted the pass and returned it 55 yards for a Sailor touchdown.

“I waited for a bit and saw the quarterback come out for the pass,” Hopson said. “I just came up and got it right on time. I saw nothing but green grass. I just kept going, I knew I had (the touchdown).”

The Sailors led 14-0 at halftime.

The Chargers got the ball to start the third, but punted after three plays. On the ensuing drive, the Sailors extended the lead to 21-0 on a 60-yard drive that ended with a one-yard touchdown plunge by quarterback Caden Broersma.

On the following kickoff, Mona Shores was flagged for an illegal block. The penalty was awarded as a spot foul, which moved Dow from its own 25-yard-line to the Sailor 40. Four plays later, Juday found Carter Kohtz for a 27-yard touchdown pass. A missed extra point left it 21-6 with 3:47 to play in the third.

The Chargers then secured an onside kick and moved deep into Sailor territory on a pass interference penalty two plays later. But the Mona Shores defense held strong and Brady Rose intercepted a pass in the end zone on third down to end the threat.

The Sailors scored on the second play of the fourth quarter on a 46-yard scoring burst by Rose, who eluded several defenders on his way to the end zone. The extra point made it 28-6.

After the Sailor defense forced a turnover on downs, Broersma connected with a wide open Keondre Pierce for a 38-yard touchdown pass, making the score 35-6 lead with 3:39 to play.

The Chargers scored the final points of the contest on a 10-yard run by Juday with 2:52 remaining.

Trovinger led the Sailors with 103 yards rushing. Broersma rushed for 72 yards, threw for 94 and totaled two scores. Rose totaled 70 yards rushing with a touchdown. Pierce was the leading receiver with 70 yards and a score.