A Cool day for the Mendon football team
By Scott Hassinger
MENDON — If anyone questioned how tough the defense of Mendon’s football team was coming into Saturday’s Division 8, Region 3, District 1 championship, the Hornets provided that answer in the second half.
Mendon capitalized on a pair of fumble recoveries and held No. 1-ranked Muskegon Catholic Central, a four-time defending state champion, scoreless in the second half in a 26-15 win at John Schwartz Field.
The win keeps No. 3-ranked Mendon (11-0) unbeaten and puts them in Saturday’s regional championship game at home at 1 p.m. against Climax-Scotts (9-2). Muskegon Catholic Central finishes 8-2.
It was Muskegon Catholic Central’s first loss in the state playoffs in five seasons under Steve Czerwon.
“Mendon football is about effort, heart and toughness,” said Mendon second-year head coach Bobby Kretschman.
“At the beginning of the week we felt we could be successful if we could control the line of scrimmage against them (MCC). Today everything just clicked for us offensively. The T-formation worked well for us. We had a tendency to give the ball to Wyatt Cool, but our other two backs, Corbin Weinberg and Austin Rensi, blocked well on the edge and ran the trap well for us too.”
The Hornets’ defense had given up just 57 points in 10 games coming into its matchup with the Crusaders.
But Mendon hadn’t quite faced a team with the physicality and athleticism of Muskegon Catholic Central. Czerwon’s Crusaders came into the game yielding just 11.3 points per game.
Mendon would not be intimidated.
Muskegon Catholic Central received the opening kickoff that went into the end zone for a touchback. The Crusaders’ sophomore tailback Tommy Watts broke off a long run on the first play and sprinted all the way down to the Hornets’ 11-yard line.
Mendon’s defense rose to the occasion and forced MCC’s Caleb Muskovin to boot a 24-yard field goal for a 3-0 Crusaders’ lead with 9:16 left in the first quarter.
Mendon took possession and drove 80 yards in 10 plays with senior tailback Wyatt Cool carrying the ball into the Crusaders’ end zone from 20 yards out and a 7-3 Hornets lead after Leo Barbosa’s PAT.
The Crusaders came right back to grab a 9-7 advantage before the end of the first quarter on a 21-yard pass reception to Nolan Convertini from sophomore quarterback Cameron Martinez. Muskovin’s PAT sailed wide right.
Mendon’s Cole Decker was intercepted by Jackson Riegler on the Hornets’ next possession.
The Hornets’ defense, however, came right back and forced a Crusaders’ turnover with Logan Hunter picking off a Martinez pass in the middle of the field.
Mendon’s offense, however, was unable to capitalize on MCC’s turnover.
Please see Monday's print or e-edition for full article.