GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Catholic Central football team hadn’t played a game in more than two months.
The layoff didn’t affect the Cougars one bit.
Behind senior wide receiver Jace Williams’ record-setting performance, Catholic Central rolled to a 58-7 home win over Muskegon Oakridge Saturday afternoon in a Division 5 regional final.
It was the fifth consecutive regional crown for the defending Division 4 state champion Cougars, who play Freeland in next weekend’s state semifinals.
“Every day we grind, no days off and we’re always working in practice,” Williams said. “It pays off when we come on the field and have a game and you can see that by the score.”
Williams, who signed with Miami (OH), caught three touchdown passes from junior quarterback Joey Silveri and established a new state record for career touchdown receptions with 46.
He surpassed Ithaca’s J.T. Jones, who had 45 from 1999-2001.
“The last four years I’ve been working for that and all the work I put in finally paid off,” Williams said. “It’s a big thing, and I’m glad I accomplished it this season with coronavirus and everything. It feels great.”
Williams caught a four-yard pass from Silveri in the first quarter to put the Cougars up 7-0.
He tied the state mark with another one and then set the record with a six-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter that gave Catholic Central a commanding 37-0 first-half lead.
“I had the record in my mind, but I didn’t really know the numbers or anything,” Williams said. “But as soon as I got that touchdown and they announced it, I was really excited and celebrated with my teammates and coaches.”
Catholic Central football coach Todd Kolster said Williams’ record-breaking career has been special.
“It’s a byproduct of a great career by him and being a part of great teams,” he said. “That’s an amazing record, and that will be a tough one to beat, considering you have to be at least a three-year starter, go deep in the playoffs every year and you have to have the right quarterbacks. He’s been as big a part of our hard work and culture as anybody.”
Silveri, who helped the Cougars win an OK Gold conference crown, tossed five touchdowns in the win.
A 38-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Krajewski put Catholic Central ahead 44-0 at halftime.
“It’s a credit to our guys,” Kolster said. “They’ve worked very hard since we’ve come back and been able to practice. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster for everybody, but I’m proud of them for accomplishing this.”
The second half was a running clock. However, Oakridge did avoid the shutout when Corey Vanderputte took a screen pass and went 68 yards for the score.
The Cougars beat Belding in the second round of the playoffs after receiving a first-round bye. They won a district crown due to a forfeit as Portland was unable to play due to COVID-19.