DETROIT, Mich. (WOOD) — The third time proved to be the charm for the Mona Shores football team.
In their third trip to Ford Field, after two previous attempts fell short, the Sailors captured the program’s first Division 2 state title Friday afternoon with an impressive 35-26 win over Detroit Martin Luther King.
Mona Shores lost in the Division 2 state finals to Warren De La Salle in 2014 and 2018.
“We were here in 2014, and then again last year, and to finally be able to win it…I still don’t think it’s set in,” Sailors coach Matt Koziak said. “Maybe it will set in 10 years or a year from now. I don’t know, but what these kids did and what they overcame in the playoffs is unbelievable.”
Koziak, whose team finished 12-2 overall, said a 53-0 drubbing by Muskegon in Week 7 was a turning point in setting up a thrilling postseason run.
The Sailors rallied in the second half to defeat Portage Northern in the regional finals and then pulled out a wild 57-56 win over Walled Lake Western in the state semifinals.
“They are a special group,” Koziak said. “People go back to the way Muskegon handled us in that game, and I know it sounds crazy, but it was the best thing that happened to us. It humbled us, it made us dig a little deeper, and it made us understand that we might now be as good as we think we are without doing the little things.”
“They have beaten some great teams in the playoffs and come from behind to win games. They refused to quit. I’m so proud and excited for them.”
Mona Shores wasn’t exactly favored to win. The Crusaders had won state championships in three of the last four years, including a win over Muskegon in last year’s Division 3.
In addition, the Sailors were playing without their starting quarterback, senior Caden Broersma, who was out with a fractured back.
None of that mattered as Mona Shores never trailed in the game and played inspired football with back-up Brady Rose under center.
The 5-foot-7 junior stepped up to the challenge. He accounted for 212 yards of total offense and four touchdowns.
Rose rushed for 90 yards and scored three touchdowns.
He also completed eight of 11 passes for 122 yards and tossed a 17-yard touchdown pass to Jaylen Hopson in the third quarter to put the Sailors up 28-20.
“He’s fearless and he was lights out,” Koziak said. “He’s a special kid and he’s so even keel. No moment is too big for him and he just doesn’t get rattled.”
Rose helped engineer a nearly 9-minute drive in the fourth quarter and capped it with a two-yard score.
“We just chipped away, and chipped the clock away,” Rose said. “Coach has a lot of confidence in me as the back-up, so we did the same things as Caden would do if he was the quarterback. After that first drive of the game, the other team knows they are going to be in a dogfight the rest of the game.”
Senior Kolbe Trovinger wore the No. 4 jersey in Broersma’s honor, and he came through with a key interception in the final minute to seal the win.
“It meant a lot to have him do that, and it was tough not being out there, but he played great,” Broersma said. “Everybody played great, and for them to say they were playing for me and they won for me…it’s just great to have teammates like this. I’ve never been as close to any team like this before.”
Senior running back Tre’Shawn Hatcher led the Sailors’ ground game with 96 yards on 18 carries and a touchdown.
Hopson, a senior, finished with five catches for 103 yards.