By Steve Gunn
NORTON SHORES – In college football, if a team has a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate, the school’s sports information department goes to work, promoting that player nationally for the prestigious award.
High schools don’t have sports information departments, so if there is player promotion to be done, that job will fall largely on the head coach.
Mona Shores football coach Matt Koziak has been taking that job seriously when it comes to Brady Rose, who may very well be the best all-around high school football player in the state, and must be considered for the 2020 Michigan Mr. Football award.
Koziak began talking up Rose’s credentials last fall, after the junior backup quarterback scored five touchdowns and ran in the winning extra point in a wild 57-56 victory over Walled Lake Western in the Division 3 state semifinals, then scored three touchdowns and had an interception in a 35-26 win over Detroit Martin Luther King in the state title game.
The coach obviously knew Rose would not win the award last year, but figured he would pick up where he left off in his senior year, when he became the full-time starting quarterback and played four or five critical roles for the Sailors, offensively, defensively and on special teams.
He was correct about that.
Rose’s latest highlight reel game came last Friday, when he scored four touchdowns and passed for another in Mona Shores’ 56-7 victory over Holland.
It wasn’t just the fact that he produced all those touchdowns. It was how he did it that was truly amazing.
Rose had a 43-yard punt return TD, caught a 70-yard scoring pass from backup quarterback Mark Konecny, ran in a three-yard touchdown, had a 45-yard pick-six TD, and completed a 63-yard touchdown pass to Demitri Roberson.
And he did all of that in just the first quarter!
On top of all that, he blocked a Holland punt in the second quarter that was scooped up and run back for a 75-yard touchdown by Elijah Johnson.
“And he was the first guy to meet the guy who scooped it up in the end zone,” said Koziak, whose team will try to improve to 4-0 in a game at Grand Haven on Friday. “If he hadn’t been on his stomach (after the block) he probably would have been the guy who scooped it up and scored.
“He definitely has that lion’s heart. He wants to be there for his team. He’s going to throw his body around out there, no matter what.”
Rose’s exploits in the Holland game alone were enough to give him plenty to brag about to his grandchildren someday. But he’s been performing like that all season.
He also turned in an amazing performance in Week 3 in the O-K Green showdown against powerful Muskegon, when he threw touchdown passes of 45 and 19 yards in the first half, then scored the game-winning touchdown with an 18-yard run in the third quarter.
To top all of that off, he sealed the 21-14 victory by making the game-winning interception at the Mona Shores 6-yard line with 27 seconds left in the game.
“We knew that was probably one of the last plays,” Rose said about his game-winning pick. “Someone had to make that play, and it came right to me. It was awesome. Everybody knew the game was over and it was pretty incredible.”
Rose finished with 118 yards passing, 105 yards rushing and led the team with 10 tackles against Muskegon.
“He doesn’t leave the field,” Koziak said after the Muskegon game. “He’s our starting quarterback, starting free safety, returns punts, and holds for PATs. If that’s not a Mr. Football candidate, I don’t know what is.”
Rose wasn’t bad at all in the first game of the season, either, scoring three rushing touchdowns against Reeths-Puffer.
And remember, it’s a 5-foot-7, 170 pound athlete producing all of those points for the defending state champs.
If he keeps up this pace, he will be a very strong candidate to become Muskegon County’s third Mr. Football in four years. Muskegon’s Cameron Martinez won the award last year, and his former teammate La’darius Jefferson won it in 2017.
Koziak is doing his best to make sure Rose gets fair consideration by spreading the word to media throughout the state.
“I need people on the east side to know just how good this kid is,” the coach said. “He’s so smart and so good. What he did at Holland on Friday, I have never seen that before in high school football, and he did it all in eight minutes! Some people never do that in an entire season, or a career.
“He’s just so unique. Every play matters to him. He never takes a play off.”