BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — From the jump, it wasn’t even close: The Grand Rapids South Christian football team wanted to leave no doubt that it belonged back in the Division 4 state semifinal game.
The Sailors (9-3) did just that, scoring 41 points in the first half alone and going on to win 55-35 over Big Rapids (10-2) at Byron Center’s sports complex.
The Sailors are now just one win away from not just a second consecutive trip to the state championship in Division 4, but also earning a shot at back-to-back state title games.
The game started with back-to-back touchdown passes from a familiar duo, Carson Vis to Jake Vermaas. Just seven minutes into the game, it was 14-0.
Following a 26-yard touchdown rush from Charlie Schreur and 21 unanswered points to open the game for South Christian, Big Rapids connected on a long touchdown pass to make it 21-7. The Cardinals hoped they could change the momentum.
Instead, the Sailors just kept supplying more firepower on offense, scoring two more touchdowns. Then, it was Vermaas on a pick-six to cap off the half and go into the locker room up 41-7.
South Christian took its foot off the gas in the second half, as Big Rapids scored three touchdowns to make the score closer than it seemed.
It was never in doubt that the Sailors were heading back to a regional final matchup.
Vermaas finished the game with three touchdowns, while Vis threw for three himself.
The path this deep in the playoffs has been to a slightly different tune than a season ago for the Sailors. Last season, they went a perfect 15-0 and won over Goodrich 28-0 at Ford Field to earn the 2022 Division 4 crown.
In 2023, however, the Sailors have fought more adversity. They lost to East Grand Rapids in Week 2 and then finished the regular season with back-to-back losses against Catholic Central and Wayland.
But the Sailors had a response for Wayland as they played in the first round of the playoffs. South Christian won convincingly, 34-7, and carried the momentum into a gutsy 22-14 victory over Forest Hills Eastern last week.
With this blowout victory over Big Rapids, it’s clear the Sailors have found a rhythm and are salivating at the idea of winning another state championship.
To do so, they will need to get past Portland, who beat Niles Friday. The matchup between South Christian and Portland will be played next week.