Muskegon County Football Week 1 Recap: Muskegon & Mona Shores display impressive power-running attacks in big-game victories
Hackley Stadium (Muskegon, MI): In a much-anticipated Week 1 showdown of traditional powerhouse programs, defending D3 state champ Muskegon used their massive offensive line and QB Cameron Martinez (Jr.) to establish a power-run attack that eventually proved too much for visiting Warren De La Salle, as Muskegon pulled away in the 4th quarter -
FINAL: MUSKEGON 36 - WARREN DLS 21
The defending D3 state champion Big Reds came into the 2018 season with high expectations for another run to Ford Field, yet there was the lingering question of how they'd replace their senior QB and Michigan's 'Mr. Football' - La'Darius Jefferson. That question was put to bed on Friday night at historic Hackley Stadium in downtown Muskegon - as junior QB Cameron Martinez filled up the stat sheet with eye-popping numbers and helped earn the Big Reds a win over the defending D2 state title holders. Martinez rushed for 290 yards and 5 TD's on 30 carries, averaging nearly 10 yds/carry. On defense, LB Ali'Vonta Wallace turned in a big night for Muskegon as he had a team-high 10 tackles, a one-handed INT, and a massive hit that knocked the helmet off of a DLS player.
For the DLS Pilots, the Anthony Stepnitz to Josh DeBerry connection was the story of the night, as they connected on two long pass plays for touchdowns, including one for 65-yards. The Pilot's other TD came on a short QB-sneak by Stepnitz, who all things considered had a solid night for De La Salle.
Cameron Martinez - a Power-5 prospect and offseason transfer from nearby Muskegon Catholic Central - is a strong runner with undeniable speed, however he'll tell you himself that the Big Red offensive line is what allowed him to run rampant on Friday night, and is what makes this Muskegon team so dangerous. The 2018 Muskegon offensive line returns 4 of 5 starters from 2017's undefeated state title team, anchored by 360 lb. senior tackle Anthony Bradford, an LSU commit. Along with the Bradford the starting Muskegon O-Line, RG Marquis Cooper (Sr - D1 offered), LT Evan Towers (Sr), LG Da'Quarious Johnson (Sr), C D'Andre Mills-Ellis (Jr), tilts the scales at an average size of 6'3" and 309lbs. Add into that interior size D1 prospect Billie Roberts at TE, an excellent blocker and receiving threat, and there aren't many teams that want to see these guys line up across from them.
There won't be much time for Muskegon to dwell on their impressive Week 1 victory, as they'll immediately begin preparations for a Week 2 showdown already drawing the attention of HSFB enthusiasts around the entire Midwest, with fellow powerhouse program Detroit Martin Luther King. The King Crusaders are coming off an impressive victory of their own, an out-of-state road win over East St. Louis. The eyes of MHSAA followers everywhere will be on Historic Hackley Stadium next Friday 8/31 for a 7pm kickoff between Muskegon and Detroit King.
Lubbers Stadium @GVSU (Allendale, MI): In a showdown between two OK-Conference squads with high expectations for 2018, it wasn't the highly-touted D1 prospects that owned the day, it was the 215lb. Mona Shores RB with the great name and no current college offers that ran wild. Sailor RB Sincer'e Dent's 223-yard, 5 TD performance proved too much for East Kentwood, as Mona Shores came away with the victory despite a late comeback surge from EK.
FINAL: Mona Shores 48 - East Kentwood 38
In a showdown between two OK-Conference squads with high expectations for 2018, it wasn't the highly-touted D1 prospects that owned the day, it was the 215lb. Mona Shores RB with the great name and no current college offers that ran wild en rout to a 223-yard, five touchdown performance - Sincer'e Dent.
Yet, as Dent said himself in talking after the game, this type of performance is not possible without outstanding offensive line play. With their OK-Black rival Muskegon's o-line amassing plenty of attention, the Sailor line proved their ready for any challenge, leading their RB to a 200+ yard day and their team to a victory over an EK team with multiple D1 linemen on both sides of the ball.
The game got off to a less-than-ideal start for Mona Shores as EK's Jayden Jones took the opening kick-off back 81-yards for the TD. However EK's momentum wouldn't last long if Dent had anything to say about it - as he ran for 74-yards on the opening drive capped by a 7-yard touchdown run. After more power-running by Dent, 115-yards and two touchdowns, Mona Shores would take a 21-13 lead into halftime.
It would be all Shores for the start of the second half, as they would stretch the lead to 48-19 behind three more touchdowns from Dent, and a 75-yard touchdown pass from QB Caden Boersma to James Gilbert. Despite Dent doing the bulk of the scoring, the Boersma-Gilbert connection was a big part of the Sailor offense as well; as Caden Boersma threw for 213-yards on 7-of-9 passing, and James Gilbert caught 5 balls for 158-yards.
It looked as though the rout was as the fourth quarter came around, however East Kentwood and backup QB Maurice Williams weren't ready to pack it in just yet. The Falcons mounted a furious comeback attempt, scoring three touchdowns within about four minutes to make the score 48-38 with just over two minutes to play in the contest. However, the EK comeback would fall short as Mona Shores was able to continue running with authority to close out the game. Williams would close his day with 134-yards passing and two TD's. Falcon WR Stephan Bracey also turned in a big day with 4 receptions for 155-yards and three touchdowns.
Mona Shores may not have as many touted prospects as some of their big competition this season, but they made a statement on Saturday that they've got the talent and will to play with anybody.
Up next for Mona Shores, a showdown at home with Bay City Central on Thursday 8/30 @7PM. East Kentwood will take on Orchard Lake St. Mary's in Week 2.
In other Muskegon County football action:
Ada Forest Hills Eastern 21 , Fruitport 6
Grand Haven 27 , Reeths Puffer 0
Reed City 34 , Montague 13
North Muskegon 41 , Hesperia 6
Oakridge 55 , Remus Chippewa Hills 8
Hopkins 42 , Ravenna 30
Whitehall 23 , Kelloggsville 12
Muskegon Catholic 35 , Algonac 7
GR Catholic Central 42 , Muskegon Heights Academy 12
Spring Lake 42 , Orchard View 19
Holton 26 , Hart 18