DETROIT (WOOD) — The Mona Shores football team was looking toward redemption Friday afternoon in the Division 2 state championship game.
Instead, a familiar script played out. The Sailors fell short in their quest for the program’s first state title and lost 29-16 to defending state champion Warren De La Salle at Ford Field.
Mona Shores (12-2) also was defeated by the Pilots (12-2) in the 2014 title game, 44-8.
“I’m so proud of them,” Sailors coach Matt Koziak said. “It’s tough to get here, you’re playing the defending Division 2 state champs, and that’s obviously not a fluke with the way they played today.
“It’s going to hurt for a while, it’s going to sting, but when they look back on this they are going to remember this journey and remember the guys who stood next to them on each side. I told them I loved them and we’re going to celebrate us. I understand it’s not a state championship, and nobody wants to win more than I do, but that doesn’t stop what these guys did this year.”
In a low-scoring first half, the Pilots got on the board first when senior quarterback Nolan Schultz scored from one yard out with 5:37 left in the opening quarter. The score came after the Sailors failed to convert on one of two fourth down tries in the first quarter.
Mona Shores’ defense helped set up a score late in the first half that tied it at halftime.
A fumble recovery led to a 2-yard touchdown run by junior quarterback Caden Broersma and a 7-7 score.
The seven points were the lowest for the Sailors in a single half this season, as was the final score. Their previous low was 33 in a win over Rockford in Week 4.
“They are so, so physical up front and I think that was the best defense we’ve seen all year and I thought that watching film,” Koziak said. “Did I think 7-7 at the half? Yes and no. I wasn’t surprised that it was, but they have a great program and their defensive scheme was great.
“They took away a lot of our strengths and we had to be creative in the second half to get the ball moving. I thought both offenses did some good things in the second half.”
De La Salle opened the second half with a quick five-play scoring drive. Schultz connected with Jacob Dobbs on a 44-yard pass play to give the Pilots a 14-7 lead.
A 24-yard field goal by Logan Hekkema trimmed the lead to 14-10, however, Schultz again found the end zone on a 1-yard plunge and it was 21-10.
The Sailors kept their hopes alive when they converted a key fourth down and made it 21-16 with less than eight minutes remaining.
Broersma tossed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Da’Varius Carter, who made a sensational grab over a defender.
The Pilots wouldn’t let Mona Shores get any closer and sealed the game away with a 12-play, 65-yard drive that chewed up more than five minutes off the clock and ended with another Schultz 1-yard score.
“It’s tough, especially when we had them third-and-12 and we thought the draw was coming,” Koziak said. “They blocked it and they are good at that. It was a moment in the game when we had to start burning timeouts and I thought we had a good chance of stopping them, but they picked up that third down and wound up punching it in.”
The Sailors managed only 167 rushing yards, as Sincere Dent led the way with 86 yards on 12 carries.
Broersma, who completed 7 of 13 passes for 55 yards, added 66 yards on 18 attempts.