Photo Credit: Eric Tuori
The Mona Shores Sailors and Caledonia Fighting Scots squared off on Friday night at Sailors Stadium in the Division 2 District Finals. Mona Shores came into this game ranked #1 in all of Division 2, while the Fighting Scots were the upstart team seeded seventh in their district. This game was a beautiful example of why football is never played on paper, as the two schools went down to the closing seconds. Ultimately, the Sailors were able to win 43-35 and claim a district title for the third straight year.
Caledonia fumbled on their second play from scrimmage, and the Sailors made them pay. Elijah Farnum broke off a twenty-four yard touchdown to give the Sailors an early 7-0 lead. After the Fighting Scots drove down to the Mona Shores thirty, the Sailors’ defense again stepped up and forced a turnover. Once again, Mona Shores would need just one play to score. Brady Rose broke free for a seventy-yard touchdown to put the Sailors ahead 14-0.
On the opening play of the second quarter, Brock Townsend scored for Caledonia on a fifteen yard touchdown. Mona Shores responded with a two-play scoring drive that saw Elijah Johnson break free for a thirty-five yard touchdown.
Caledonia responded with a lengthy touchdown march to draw closer in this game. Carson Vanderhoff powered across the goal line from a yard out, though the extra point was blocked. After a quick fumble recovery by the Fighting Scots, Caledonia had a short field. They took advantage with a pass from Mason Mckenzie to Luke Mandsager for a twenty-five yard touchdown. A two-point conversion by Brock Townsend evened the score at 21 as the teams went to halftime.
Mona Shores started the third quarter with an explosive kickoff return that gave them the football on the right side of the 50. A few plays later, Elijah Johnson plunged across the goal line to put the Sailors back in front. This was the lone scoring play in the third quarter.
Caledonia began the fourth quarter facing a pivotal third down from the Mona Shores fifteen. They picked up the first down on a running play and a few plays later, Mason Mckenzie and Nick Fox connected on a touchdown pass to even the score.
On their first play from scrimmage, the Sailors again exploded for a big play. Brady Rose and Elijah Farnum connected for a sixty-two yard touchdown that gave Mona Shores the lead with nine minutes to play.
Caledonia would respond on a forty-four yard touchdown run by Carson Vanderhoff. The senior was phenomenal in this contest, and Paul Voegler‘s extra point, tied the game at 35.
The Fighting Scots controlled the clock in this game, winning the time of possession battle 35:42-12:18. This margin would have been ever greater had Mona Shores Coach Matt Koziak not instructed his team to slow down on their next possession. A brilliant coaching decision, Koziak’s team took 4:39 off the clock as they moved down the field. Brady Rose was able to break free and score from fourteen yards out to put the Sailors ahead. On the extra point, the play fell apart and Rose scooped up the ball and dove across the pylon for a two-point conversion. Mona Shores led 43-35, and with 1:22 the Fighting Scots would have to act fast.
Caledonia had two timeouts when they got the football back. They went to the air and Gary Humphrey stepped in front of the pass and intercepted it. Mona Shores would nearly bleed the entirety of the clock, leaving Caledonia with one final play from their own five yard line. The Scots completed the pass, but did not make significant yardage, ending the game.
This was a phenomenal football game by both teams. The Fighting Scots outgained Mona Shores 367-357. Caledonia rushed for 321 of those yards on 64 carries. Carson Vanderhoff led the team with 240 yards on 46 carries, ending a record book career with one final performance.
The OSKAR Scots Fighting Scot of the Game in this contest was Caledonia Head Coach Tom Burrill. Coach Burrill coached his final game at Caledonia on Friday night, announcing earlier that this year would be his last. The most successful head coach in program history, Burrill posted a record of 110-84. Most notably, Coach Burrill led the Fighting Scots to their only State Championship in 2005. Congrats to Coach Burrill on a phenomenal career, and best wishes in your next chapter.
Mona Shores was led by Brady Rose in this football game. The senior passed for 123 yards and rushed for 131 more on fourteen carries. He directed this offense and made big plays when the team needed them the most. Elijah Farnum had a notable day as well with 109 total yards of offense (47 rushing and 62 receiving). Rose earns tonight’s Redi Rental Sailor of the Game honors.
Next week, the Sailors will travel to East Lansing to take on the Trojans. Led by Division 1 commits Andrel Anthony (Michigan) and Ethan Boyd (Michigan State), the Trojans have posted a perfect record this season. They defeated Portage Northern 42-14 in the district finals.