Photo courtesy of Louis Murray.

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The Catholic Central Cougars finished last season as the champions in Division 4. For Todd Kolster’s bunch, the only way to improve on that season was by running the table and completing an undefeated season in 2017. Thanks to a strong defense and a dominating running game, the goal was accomplished on Friday night at Ford Field. The Cougars left Detroit with their second straight Division 4 State Championship, 42-31, over the Eddies of Edwardsburg.

Catholic started the scoring in this game in a similar way to many games this season, on a touchdown by Nolan Fugate. This time however, the running back hauled in a pass by Jack Bowen from 20 yards to give the Cougars a 7-0 advantage.

Edwardsburg fought back with a pair of touchdowns to end the first quarter, as Kyle Shrider broke through the defense for a 55-yard touchdown carry. Chase Shager’s 66-yard run gave the Eddies a 13-7 lead after the first quarter of play.

In the second quarter, Catholic Central bounced back with a pair of long drives, both capped off by one-yard touchdown runs. The ended with a score by Fugate, and the second was a quarterback keeper by Jack Bowen. These gave Catholic Central a 21-13 advantage heading to the locker room.

On their first drive of the second half, Catholic Central had little problem moving the ball. They marched down the field, and capped off another scoring drive with Fugate’s third touchdown of the night. On the ensuing kickoff however, Edwardsburg responded as Caden Goggins went 99 yards for the touchdown, trimming the lead to 28-19. Fugate would end the third quarter with his fourth touchdown of the night, a 55-yard carry through the teeth of the Eddies’ defense to give the Cougars a 16-point lead entering the final quarter of play.

Edwardsburg did not go down without a fight on Friday night, as they opened the fourth-quarter with a 78-yard touchdown run by Kyle Shrider, his second of the night. Just three minutes later, Nick Bradley burst through the Catholic Central defense for a 90-yard touchdown run, the Eddies fifth touchdown, all coming on big plays. Unfortunately, they did not convert the two-point attempt on their final two touchdowns, leaving them down by four with eight minutes to play.

The story of the entire season offensively can be summed up on the final touchdown of the year for Catholic. They iced their second straight Division 4 State Championship, and their first undefeated State Championship since 1987, by handing the ball to star running back Nolan Fugate. He took the ball thirty-two yards to the house for his fifth touchdown of the game, capping off a remarkable night that saw him go for 306 yards rushing, two shy of the MHSAA State Finals record, as well as five touchdowns (tying a State Finals record for touchdowns and points). His season finishes with 3094, the second highest single-season rushing total in MHSAA history. It was truly a magical run for the Fugate and the entire Cougars football program in 2017.