GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Grand Rapids Catholic Central football team is facing a familiar foe Saturday in a MHSAA Division 4 state semifinal.
The Cougars (11-1) will meet unbeaten Edwardsburg (12-0) at Vicksburg High School.
The two teams squared off in last year’s Division 4 state final and the Cougars came away with a 42-31 victory and a second straight state championship.
Catholic Central coach Todd Kolster believes this Edwardsburg team is even better than last season.
“They had a lot of juniors play last year and obviously those kids are now seniors,” he said. “They have the benefit of a great deal of experience and they’re very physical.”
The Eddies have scored a whopping 631 points this season, and their defense is just as impressive with five shutouts and only 87 points given up.
“Everyone talks about their offense because they’re so good and what they do is great, but defensively, they are off-the-charts good,” Kolster said. “They’ve only given up 87 points in 12 games and that’s nuts. They’re really physical on defense, too, and they have a good mix of kids.”
Catholic Central has rattled off 10 straight wins since a 17-7 loss to Saline in Week 2 and won the O-K Blue Conference championship.
The Cougars have been especially good the past four weeks, which includes the regular-season finale and three postseason games. They’ve outscored their opponents 179-27 while allowing seven points or less in each game.
Catholic Central collected its third straight regional title last week with a 35-6 win over Escanaba.
“We’ve done a good job at times in the last few games and played really well in all phases and we’ve had our lapses in certain phases,” Kolster said. “But all in all, we’ve played really well and our kids have gotten a lot better and are playing with a lot of confidence, which is good.”
After a long week of practice, the Cougars are ready for their next challenge in their bid for a third straight trip to Ford Field.
“They understand the magnitude, and our kids just want to go play the game,” Kolster said. “I think they’re excited to play.”
Here is a quick glance at the other state semifinals involving area teams:
Division 2 — Midland (9-3) vs. Mona Shores (11-1) at Grand Ledge: The Mona Shores Sailors have recorded 99 points in their last two postseason games and have already set a school record for points in a season with 544. They are seeking their first trip to the state finals since 2014. Midland is competing in its first state semifinal since 2007 and shut out Walled Lake Western in last week’s regional final.
Division 3 — Zeeland East (11-1) vs. Muskegon (12-0) at Grand Haven: Muskegon is in search of its sixth trip to the state finals in the last seven years, but will have to get past a talented Zeeland East squad. The Chix are coming off its first regional title since 1989 and is averaging 49 points per game during their postseason run.
Division 5 — Unity Christian (10-2) vs. Saginaw Swan Valley (12-0) at Greenville: Unity Christian will play in its second state semifinal in the past two years after defeating unbeaten Kalamazoo United a week ago. The Crusaders have double-digit wins for only the second time in school history and is averaging 40 points per game in the state playoffs. Swan Valley is looking for a return to the state finals after losing to Grand Rapids West Catholic last season. The Vikings have scored more than 500 points for the second straight season and is holding teams to 10 points per game.
Division 6 — Montague (10-2) vs. Traverse City St. Francis (12-0) at Mt. Pleasant Community Stadium: Montague last played in a state semifinal in 2009 when it went undefeated en route to a state crown. Traverse City St. Francis is back in the state semifinals for a second straight season. The Gladiators lost to Ithaca last season and are 46-4 combined the last four seasons.
Division 8 — Holton (8-4) vs. Reading (12-0) at Battle Creek Harper Creek: Holton continued their surprising playoff run with a 14-6 win over Mendon last week to claim a regional title. The Red Devils, who had 10 straight prior losing seasons are the only team in the final four with four losses and is in the state semifinals for the first time. Reading hasn’t played in a state semifinal since 2008 and has racked up a school-record 601 points this season.