LSJ Spotlight Games Week 6: COVID cancellation gives Mona Shores surprise rematch of D3 state finals

By Steve Gunn
LocalSportsJournal.com

COVID-19 has taken another couple of bites out of the local high school football schedule, forcing the cancellations of two games this weekend, including one very big one.

Mona Shores was scheduled to visit Zeeland West, with a chance to nail down the outright O-K Green conference championship. It would have been a battle, because Zeeland West has only lost once, last week in a nail-biter to Muskegon.

But the game was called off due to a confirmed case of COVID-19 on the Zeeland West roster. Luckily Mona Shores scrambled and picked up a Saturday home game against Detroit Martin Luther King, the team they beat in last year’s Division 3 state championship game. Kickoff will be at 3:30 p.m.

The Grand Haven-West Ottawa game was also called off. Grand Haven will now host Battle Creek Central on Saturday at 1 p.m.

Meanwhile, the sixth and final week of the regular season will go on as scheduled, with some pretty good matchups.

Reporters and photographers from LocalSportsJournal.com will be at Mona Shores on Saturday for the suddenly-scheduled rematch between the two state powers. We will also be on hand for two great matchups on Friday night – Whitehall at Oakridge and Fruitport at Spring Lake.

LocalSportsJournal.com will also have live Friday coverage of Zeeland East at Reeths-Puffer, a good O-K Green conference matchup.

Log on to the website on Friday night and Saturday morning for complete reports on those games, and all the other games in the area.

DETROIT KING (3-2) at MONA SHORES (5-0)

The Mona Shores football team was pumped up to play powerful Zeeland West on Friday night on the road, hoping to win and clinch the outright championship in the O-K Green conference.

The Sailors were crushed when they learned that the game was canceled due to a positive COVID test on the Zeeland West roster – but now they have a reason to get pumped up again.

Mona Shores’ Elijah Farnum 

Mona Shores will be equally challenged by Detroit King, which also had an open date on its schedule after its game with Chippewa Valley was cancelled. The game will be an exciting rematch of last year’s Division 3 state championship matchup, which the Sailors won in a stunning upset, 35-26 at Detroit’s Ford Field.

Even better for the Sailors is that the game will be at home on Saturday, with a 3:30 p.m. kickoff.

Mona Shores and Detroit King were originally slated to play in Week 2 in September, but that game was canceled when the first three weeks of the season were lost due to the pandemic.

Mona Shores has been rolling all season, beating Reeths-Puffer (55-0), Muskegon (21-14), Holland (56-7), Grand Haven (36-15) and finally Grand Rapids Union last Friday, 77-32.

The Sailors led 28-7 in that wild game, then left the Red Hawks in their dust by scoring five touchdowns in the second quarter. Dahmir Farnum ran for three TDs in the quarter, quarterback Brady Rose added one, and then threw a 27-yard scoring pass to Elijah Farnum.

Mona Shores fans should not be fooled by Detroit King’s 3-2 record. Both of the Crusaders’ losses have come against the same team, Detroit Cass Tech, 34-26 and 41-19. Great regular seasons are not King’s specialty, anyway. The Crusaders usually lose one or two, then get really hot in the playoffs.

Last year they lost their first two games of the season, but still ended up in the state finals against Mona Shores. The Crusaders also lost twice in 2018 and 2016, but ended up winning state championships.

WHITEHALL (4-1) at OAKRIDGE (4-1)

This game is likely a battle for second place in the West Michigan Conference, and will be a great playoff tune-up for both teams.

Both the Vikings and the Eagles have one loss, against powerful Montague, which is likely to clinch the conference title against North Muskegon on Friday.

Whitehall’s Nate Bolley 

The scores of their respective games against Montague suggest that Whitehall may have an edge in this one.

Last week Whitehall went two overtimes with Montague before falling 34-31 in one of the most exciting games of the season. Back in Week 2, Oakridge lost to Montague 42-6.

But this game will probably be a lot more competitive than some people imagine. Oakridge has rebounded nicely following the Montague loss with blowout victories over Hart (63-8), North Muskegon (42-0) and Ravenna last Friday, 34-13.

Featured running back Corey Vanderputte had a huge game against Ravenna, running for 204 yards on 15 carries, with two touchdowns.

Whitehall has been strong throughout the season, beating Ravenna (48-0), Shelby (64-0), North Muskegon (41-3) and Mason County Central (36-0), before losing the conference showdown to Montague last Friday.

The super stingy Whitehall defense gave up its first touchdown of the season at Montague. There’s no shame in that, considering the number of weapons the Wildcats have at their disposal.

Whitehall had a very good chance of beating Montague, leading the Wildcats 17-15 late in the third quarter and 24-21 late in the fourth, before Montague kicked a field goal as the clock expired to tie the score, then stole the win in overtime.

Nate Bolley ran for 108 yards and three touchdowns for Whitehall. Quarterback Andrew Durbin threw for 107 yards and ran for 54 more, while Brody Fogus caught five passes for 70 yards. 

Oakridge beat Whitehall 17-9 last season and has a 31-11 lead in the all-time series.

FRUITPORT (2-3) at SPRING LAKE (3-2)

The Battle of the Bayou has a little extra meaning this year, because it’s once again a conference game. Fruitport joined Spring Lake in the O-K Blue this season, after spending the last few years in the Black division.

But regardless of whether the outcome counts in any conference standings, this neighborhood battle is always a brawl between two teams that want to beat each other badly, just for the sake of doing so.

Spring Lake’s Steve Ready

Last year was a good example. Fruitport pulled within one point in overtime with a touchdown catch by Ethan Flores, and decided to go for a two-point conversion and the win. But the Spring Lake defense foiled the attempt, and the Lakers escaped with a breathtaking 21-20 victory.

Both teams are coming off impressive wins last week.

Spring Lake plowed past Holland Christian 34-2 to gain its second straight victory. Running back Steve Ready rushed for 86 yards on four attempts with three touchdowns.

Fruitport broke a two-game losing streak, and bounced back nicely from a 51-0 loss to Unity Christian in Week 4, by rallying to beat Coopersville 28-21.

Quarterback Gavin Reames hit Blake Haight with a 54-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, then Ronne Taylor put the icing on the win with a scoop-and-score touchdown on a fumble recovery.

Reames had a very good night, completing 8 of 13 passes for 267 yards and two touchdowns while running for one TD.

Fruitport has pretty much owned this series over the past decade, winning 7 of the last 10 matchups with the Lakers. The Trojans lead the all-time series 30-22.

OTHER GAMES

FRIDAY

Zeeland East at Reeths-Puffer
Fremont at Big Rapids
Hesperia at White Cloud
Mason County Central at Hart
Holton at Muskegon Catholic
Kent City at Orchard View
Ludington at Lake City
North Muskegon at Montague
Muskegon at Grand Rapids Union
Ravenna at Shelby

SATURDAY

Battle Creek Central at Grand Haven, 1 p.m.

 

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