MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Making the trip to Ford Field to play for a state championship has almost become a rite of passage for Muskegon County football players.
“Football is pretty special here,” said Mona Shores coach Matt Koziak.
The pool of talent in the county is some of the best in the state.
“Man, what a team we’d have if we all played in the same school, huh,” joked Muskegon head coach Shane Fairfield.
Mona Shores (Division 2), Montague (Division 6), and defending champ Muskegon (Division 3), will continue the annual trip for Muskegon County teams heading to Detroit this year.
But any football junkie around these parts remembers 2008 when our teams from Muskegon went, and four teams from Muskegon won.
Muskegon, Oakridge, Muskegon Catholic Central and Montague all won state championships in 2008.
“Plus East Grand Rapids won one, Rockford won one,” said Tony Annese, then Muskegon coach. “And Holland Christian won one.”
Seven of the eight divisions brought the top trophy back to this side of the state that season.
This year, Unity Christian (Division 5), Portland (Division 5), and Edwardsburg (Division 4) are vying for crowns, meaning West Michigan could bring five back. One county is undoubtedly leading the way.
“Just the love for the kids, the love for grinding and old school football, the logging town,” said Pat Collins, Montague coach. “I just love what it stands for and being in Muskegon County, I think our kids symbolize what that’s all about.”
Koziak stresses enjoying every day of the season in its entirety.
“We always talk about one more week together,” said Koziak. “Win or lose, this is it. We spent the maximum amount of time we can spend with each other.”
While these programs are used to making this yearly trek across the state to claim what each believes is theirs, maybe the fact that winning isn’t the top priority helps them do just that.
“It’s not so much the game that is the important message being taught over this weekend,” said Fairfield. “I think the important message is ‘if you do good things and commit to something and fight for something, great things will work out for you.’”
State title or not.