By John Karafa and Greg Wickstrom

Two storied programs of Muskegon Catholic and North Muskegon squared off for a hot and steamy football season opener on Friday evening.

With temperatures playing a fatigue factor both ways, MCC prevailed at home with a 27-13 victory.

MCC’s Joe Waller finds a hole in the middle. Photo/Tim Reilly

The Crusaders had all the right answers for North Muskegon in the first half and used that momentum to take over on the ground in the second half.

“The difference is how we played up front,” said MCC Coach Steve Czerwon. “Our conditioning and strength was a determining factor in the second half.”

The Norse struck first with a 31-yard touchdown catch by Bo Nedeau. Freshman QB James Young connected the strike, giving the Norsemen a 6-0 lead.  

Five minutes later, Joe Waller capped off an MCC drive of its own on a one-yard scamper to take a 7-6 lead.

North Muskegon rallied back with a 29-yard touchdown pass. This time from Young to Landon Christensen, reclaiming the lead at 13-7.

North Muskegon QB James Young sneaks a pass over the MCC defense. Photo/Tim Reilly

The Crusaders added a six yard run by junior David Hill to knot the game at 13-13 just before half.

Early in the third quarter, MCC’s Elliot Riegler sprinted 39 yards on a high snap from center to give MCC a 20-13 advantage. MCC capped off scoring with a 25-yard touchdown run by Waller to seal the win in the fourth quarter.

MCC finished with 302 total yards on the ground to -4 rushing yards for North Muskegon.

“We pride ourselves in being in shape and that was a factor,” said Czerwon.

Waller and Riegler led the Crusaders’ balanced rushing attack with 122 and 78 yards, respectively.

North Muskegon QB Young was 14 of 28 passing, for 157 yards in the air and threw four interceptions. Denny Belmonte made five catches for 55 yards.

Quinn Kersman led the Norse defensively with 7 tackles.

Videographer Clinton Walker was on hand to capture the action.

LSJ photographer Tim Reilly was on hand to get the goods from the hot night on the ground.