By Ron Rop

NORTON SHORES – Mona Shores football coach Matt Koziak had a big smile on his face following his team’s season opener on Friday night.

You couldn’t blame him after watching his team overcome a couple early mistakes then regrouped for a 48-20 victory over the Manitowoc Ships, a team from Wisconsin. The victory gave the Sailors the first “Battle of the Badger” trophy and earned Koziak the 100th victory at Shores.

“I thought our kids hit, that’s what really stuck out for me,” said Koziak, whose team played its first game on the new field turf at Sailor Stadium. “They were kind of chomping at the bit to get going with the season.

“I was proud of our execution offensively,” said Koziak, whose team fumbled on its first possession and had a long punt return for a touchdown called back due to a penalty. But, thereafter, the Sailors were dominant on both sides of the ball.

Jonathan Pittman, the Sailors’ sophomore quarterback, did indeed fumble on the first possession as the Sailors were marching toward the end zone. However, that did not faze Koziak in the least.

“I said to him, that was the most proud I was of him on how he handled the rest of the game,” Koziak said.

Pittman was solid throughout the remainder of the contest and spearheaded numerous Mona Shores drives that culminated with touchdowns.

“He’s just an even-keel kid with a cool demeanor,” Koziak said. “You can win a lot of football games when you have a guy who has amnesia when things go bad and even amnesia when things go good. As a 10th grader, that was just incredible.”

Speedy Dahmir Farnum turned some heads with his elusive running and his yards after the initial contact. Farnum scored on runs of 5 yards and 3 yards in the opening half.

“He was a beast tonight … the yards after contact,” Koziak said. “That’s what I’m really interested in seeing (on the game film). He has worked so hard in the off-season to be that dynamic back. He’s a downhill, tough kid, but I think he’s more elusive now.”

Jaylen Vinton also showed his quickness on the offensive side of the ball. He caught a 48-yard touchdown pass from Pittman in the opening quarter and an 82-yard pass from Pittman in the third quarter. He also took a lateral pass from Pittman and found Amari Richardson alone downfield for a 30-yard touchdown pass.

The offensive heroics did not end there.

Andrew Baker scored on a 4-yard run and sophomore James Starr sprinted around the right end and 87 yards later, he found the end zone. That capped the Sailors’ scoring in the fourth quarter.

Manitowoc quarterback Brock Peterson suffered a leg injury in the opening quarter and did not return. His replacement, Maxwell Maigetter was a solid replacement.

But the spark plug for the Ships was junior Mack Beasley, who scored on a 24-yard touchdown run and one an 83-yard kickoff return in the game’s final minutes.

“It’s hard because we’re not really familiar with that team, yes, we’ve seen film on them,” Koziak said.

Next up for the Sailors is a road game at Rockford next Thursday.

Manitowac’s Walker Linboom is gang tacked by six Sailor defenders. Photo/Eric Sturr

Andrew Baker takes a pitch and walks in untouched for the score. Photo/Eric Sturr

Dahmir Farnum makes a tackler miss as he cuts back for more yardage. Photo/Eric Sturr

Mona Shores quarterback, Jonathan Pittman finds the hole. Photo/Eric Sturr

Andrew Baker takes down Manitowac quarterback Brock Peterson for the sack. Photo/Eric Sturr

Jaylen Vinton hauls in the pass and strides into the endzone for the touchdown. Photo/Eric Sturr