Unity Christian ends West Catholic’s state title streak

Football Frenzy

GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — There were probably some people that figured West Catholic would produce another postseason run despite barely getting into the state playoffs with a 5-4 record. 

Unity Christian spoiled those plans and delivered an inspiring performance in Friday’s Division 5 pre-district game at Jenison High School. 

The Crusaders dominated the first half en route to a 41-22 win over the five-time defending state champions. 

Unity (8-2) advances to next week’s district final against Muskegon Oakridge, which defeated Belding. 

The victory ended an incredible five-year run by West Catholic, which had won 25 straight postseason games and five consecutive state crowns. 

The Falcons’ last playoff loss occurred in 2012 against Portland in the state finals. 

“There is no way anybody around here ever expected something like that to happen,” Unity coach Craig Tibbe said. “For us, maybe we surprised them a little bit, but the kids played hard and they showed up ready to play. 

“They knew they were playing a good team, and it’s a great program, but our kids played really hard tonight and the first half was huge.” 

Unity opened the scoring with a 3-yard touchdown run by sophomore Malekhi Obade and led 8-0 midway through the first quarter. 

After recovering a fumble at midfield, the Crusaders padded their lead with a short touchdown run from senior Max Buikema. 

Buikema made it 24-0 late in the second quarter on a 24-yard run. 

West Catholic tried to close the gap before the half, but their drive was halted after an interception by Noah Wiswary. 

“That was big not to give them any kind of life going into the half,” Tibbe said. 

Unity led 27-0 at half and then took advantage of another West Catholic miscue. 

A punt hit a West Catholic player and Unity recovered. Quarterback Isaac TeSlaa scored on a 1-yard plunge to make it 33-0. 

The Falcons finally got on the board with a touchdown pass from Spencer Zobro to Zane Way, but Buikema sealed the win with an 8-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter. 

It was his third touchdown of the game. 

“We just came out and played our game and it worked out and we came out on top,” Buikema said. “We got some points up early and then our defense was pretty good all night. The turnovers were key because they stopped their momentum and gave us the momentum so we could drive down and score again.” 

While the running clock and margin of victory were unexpected, Tibbe said the focus now shifts to the next opponent. 

“It was fun to watch these guys come out and have kind of an impressive win for them,” Tibbe said. “And now, nobody cares about this one. We’ll see what happens next.” 

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