by Craig Beilfuss

It’s a showdown on Friday night when the Muskegon Catholic Central Crusaders battle the Muskegon Heights Tigers with a stake of the Lakes 8 Activities Conference title on the line.

Muskegon Heights head coach, Van Parker and his rebuilding Tigers team hope to have a little say in the matter as will MCC coach Steve Czerwon and his Crusaders.

With a Tigers win on Friday, they would assure themselves of nothing less than a share of the conference title. Both teams enter action with 4-1 overall records, while MCC is 1-0 in conference play and Heights is 1-1.

Last week, Ludington totally dominated the Heights during the second half and captured a 41-12 win.

“We just have to be better at what we do on both sides and we have to play faster and tackle better,” Parker said. “Up front, we have to take care of the ball, be explosive, play hard and have fun.”

There are keys Parker will be looking for from his team against MCC.

“For starters, we have to win the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” Parker said. “Second, we have to take care of the ball. Most importantly, we have to be our best.”

Parker knows plenty about his opponent.

“I know they’re always tough,” Parker said. “They love to run the ball. They’re well coached. Offensively, they are a run heavy team, that will formation you to death.

“Defensively, they fly around and are always in the right spots,” Parker said. “MCC’s tradition speaks for itself. They have a lot of state titles and we are rich in basketball history. We’re hoping to add to that rich history on the football side.”

Like the Tigers, with a win on Friday evening, MCC and Coach Czerwon will finish with no less than a share of the conference title.

The Crusaders are among the state’s most storied football programs, having won a host of conference titles, to go along with their 12-state championships. They have qualified for the state playoffs 29 times.

Muskegon Catholic Crusader Head Football Coach Steve Czerwon

Czerwon has four of those state titles and all came consecutively from 2013 to 2016 in Division 8. Under the guidance of Czerwon, the Crusaders have had a winning season in nine of his 10 years.

“They (Heights) have had some success this year and seem to be headed in the right direction,” said Czerwon. “They throw the ball well and have many athletic people at the skill positions. They run the ball well and cover the pass well. We need to limit our mistakes and limit their explosive plays.”

Friday’s game begins at 7 p.m. at Phillips Field at Muskegon Heights.