By Dave Hart
The Crusaders, who won four straight state titles between 2013-16 and ruled the Lakes 8 Conference through 2017, returned to the top of the hill at the conference level on Friday, beating 2019 champion Orchard View 41-0 on the Cardinals’ home field.
The Crusaders are now 5-0 on the season and have outscored their opponents by a 150-18 margin. They will finish their regular season next Friday against Holton before turning their attention to the state playoffs, where they will be in a tough district that also includes local power Montague.
“We haven’t won this league in a couple of years because Manistee had that really good team two years ago, and OV was a super team last year,” said Muskegon Catholic Coach Steve Czerwon. “We knew they (OV) were going to be down a little bit, but we wanted to play a clean game. I thought in a lot of ways we did.
“Our district as it is right now is filled with really good teams, so just getting out of districts will be an accomplishment.”
The Crusaders used many offensive weapons to overwhelm the OV defense.
Joe Waller paced MCC with 61 rushing yards on eight carries and Nick Powell had 59 yards on six rushes.
Dane Rutz added 42 yards on five rushes with a touchdown, while Tommy Kartes had 41 yards and scored two touchdowns on seven carries.
MCC quarterback Max Price rushed for 41 yards on four carries with a touchdown while throwing for 97 yards and a score on 2-for-3 passing.
“It’s been a great season,” Waller said. “We all have been feeding off each other. We need to take one game at a time, but we have the (state) finals in the back of our minds.”
“We have a lot of faith in all the guys touching the ball,” Czerwon said. “We feel when they touch the ball, they are going to do something positive.”
The Crusaders led 14-0 after the first quarter, following an eight-yard touchdown run by Rutz and a 27-yard dash by Price.
MCC continued its offensive dominance in the second quarter with a three-yard touchdown run by Kartes and a 90-yard score by Elliot Riegler, who took a short forward pitch from Price and was off to the races.
The Crusaders went into the halftime leading 28-0.
MCC added a touchdown in the third quarter on a 10-yard run by Kartes to increase its lead to 35-0, before closing the scoring in the fourth quarter with a two-yard touchdown run by David Hill.
The Crusaders were paced defensively by Sam Kartes with 10 tackles while Gunner Stout added six.
Orchard View struggled offensively, gaining just 53 yards rushing, led by Darius Williams with 48 yards on 12 carries.
The Cardinals are now 1-4 on the season and will close the regular season next week against Kent City.