PHOTO CREDIT: Lou Murray
To see pictures of the game click here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/45681226@N02/albums/72157720166934640
The Caledonia Fighting Scots hosted Mona Shores on Friday, though the backdrop behind the action was different. Due to the weather and playing conditions, Caledonia relocated the game to Grandville High School. In a rematch of last year’s district championship game, Caledonia flipped the script. They cruised to a 49-12 victory over the Sailors, securing the school’s first District Championship since 2012. In the process, they dethroned the two-time defending Division 2 State Champion Sailors.
After stopping the Sailors on the opening drive, Caledonia’s offense set on the course for a touchdown. Mason McKenzie, the dynamic quarterback for the Fighting Scots, got the party started with a 5-yard scramble into the end zone. This would be the lone score of the frame, with Caledonia holding a 7-0 edge.
On the opening play of the second quarter, the Fighting Scots extended their lead. McKenzie used his arm, finding an open Nick Fox on a 5-yard slant, with Fox making a phenomenal diving catch.
Touchdown Caledonia! Fighting Scots 2023 QB Mason McKenzie finds Nicholas Fox over the middle to give Caledonia a 14-0 lead. 11:56 remain in the first half. @TheD_Zone @MckenzieQb1 @CaledoniaFootb1 pic.twitter.com/1yatK8sLgD
— Tate Baker (@dzone_tate) November 5, 2021
Mona Shores’ offense stalled out again, but their defense provided a spark of momentum. Demetri Roberson stepped in front of McKenzie’s pass, and gave the Sailors the football back on the edge of the red zone. A few plays later, Dahmir Farnum found the end zone on a 1-yard plunge. The extra point was blocked by the Fighting Scots, leaving their lead at eight points.
Caledonia responded in a big way, with McKenzie and Fox pairing up on another touchdown. This time, it was a 15-yard pass play. On the ensuing Sailors drive, the Fighting Scots defense forced and recovered a fumble while protecting the red zone. Caledonia rounded out the half with an 80-yard touchdown march, capped off by a Brock Townsend carry of 52 yards. This gave the Fighting Scots a 28-6 halftime lead.
As the second half began, Caledonia extended their lead. McKenzie broke off a 30-yard touchdown run, his second rushing touchdown of the game. Mona Shores finally snapped the drought with a 15-yard toss from Landon Thalman to Demetri Roberson. Another failed extra point left the score 35-12 in favor of Caledonia entering the fourth quarter.
In the final frame, Caledonia added two insurance touchdowns to secure their victory. First, McKenzie paired up with Justice Reed on a 2-yard toss. After a Jimmie Floyd interception, Caledonia’s Jett King rushed for a 4-yard touchdown with twenty seconds to play.
The Fighting Scots snapped a 5-game losing streak to Mona Shores that dated back to 2012, coincidentally the last season with a District Championship. Caledonia outgained Mona Shores 509-221 in this game, with 390 yards on the ground. Mason McKenzie was 11/16 passing for 119 yards, and he added 193 rushing yards on 21 carries. Brock Townsend joined him in the century club with a 113 yard performance. Justice Reed (34 yards), Jett King (27) and Blake Herron (23) rounded out the action on the ground. Defensively, Luke Mandsager, Tyler Burd and Josh Fedewa were the leading tacklers for the Fighting Scots.
The final Focus Financial Todd Carlson Sailor of the Game award for the 2021 campaign goes to Ryan McNiff, who had a team-high five receptions for 52 yards, and three tackles defensively. Mona Shores has been eliminated in the State Playoffs for the first time since they lost in the 2018 State Finals. It’s the first time they’ve lost in the District rounds since 2017.
Next week, Caledonia will be the home team for the regional finals. This is the first time that that has occurred since 2005, when they ultimately captured a State Championship. In that game, they defeated Cadillac 42-6. This time, they will host a different Big North Conference foe, the Traverse City Central Trojans. Traverse City Central throttled Bay City Western 55-18 in their district final.