By: Daniel Stickradt
DIVISION 8: Muskegon stymies Ottawa Lake-Whiteford for fourth straight crown
BY DAN STICKRADT
DETROIT — It has been said time and time again in the arena of sports that defense wins championships.
In the case for top-ranked Muskegon Catholic Central, one again that proved to be spot on for the Crusaders.
And throw in a great offense for good measure, too.
Muskegon Catholic Central, which defeated Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes 7-0 in last year’s Division 8 state title game, put together another staunch defensive effort in the 2016 D-8 state finals at Ford Field with a convincing 35-6 triumph over fifth-ranked Ottawa Lake-Whiteford.
It marked Muskegon Catholic Central’s fourth straight state title — and the Crusaders have only given up 24 points in those state title games.
The Crusaders yielded only 77 points over 14 games this season.
“It’s what we do. Our defensive coordinator (Mike Rebecky) has them prepared,” said Muskegon CC coach Steve Czerwon. “Much like the 2014 season, we rarely trailed this season. When we have the lead, our defense steps up its game.”
Cameron Martinez finished with 154 yards on 15 carries to lead the Crusaders (14-0). Logan Helton added 69 yards on seven carries and LaTommy Scott had eight rushes for 69 yards for Muskegon CC, which chalked up 392 yards of offense.
Ottawa Lake-Whiteford amassed 350 yards of offense, only to be essentially shut down by the Crusaders. Muskegon CC didn’t allow Whiteford to convert on five fourth-down chances — including once in the red zone and four times in Crusaders territory.
“I thought that was a big difference in the game, us stepping up on those fourth down situations,” added Czerwon. “They moved the football well and I expected that type of game. But when it counted the most, we stepped in and didn’t allow them to score except for the one second-rater touchdown.”
Muskegon CC led 7-6 at the half, only to tack on 14 points in each of the third and fourth quarters.
Helton scored on a 5-yard run doe Muskegon CC with 9:05 left in the second quarter to go ahead for good.
Ottawa Lake-Whiteford (13-1) countered on Thomas Eitnier’s 81-yard touchdown sprint, although the run failed.
Helton (26-yard run), Martinez (5-yard run), Scott (25-yard pass from Martinez) and Walker Chistofferson (8-yard run) also scored second-half TDs for Muskegon CC. Caleb Muskovin nailed all five extra points.
“That was one good football team,” said Whiteford coach Jason Mensing. “They only gave up (13) points in the postseason for a reason.”