The “War by the Shore” was a thriller in the regular season, a 35-28 victory by Stevensville Lakeshore against their rivals, the St Joseph Bears. After a pair of thrilling Round 1 victories for both St Joe and Lakeshore against their respective Zeeland opponents, the rematch was set to take place in Stevensville. Four weeks after the original rendition, the Bears got revenge. They captured a 17-14 victory, securing the school’s first District Championship since 2015.
A battle of attrition saw four punts to start this game, resulting in a scoreless first quarter. Early in the second quarter, Brystun Mayberry stepped in front of a Lancers’ pass, returning the football 51 yards down field to the Lakeshore 46 yard line. Five plays later, Joron Brown rushed for a 5-yard touchdown, giving the Bears a 7-0 advantage.
The Brown touchdown was the first of five straight scoring drives in this game. Lakeshore was next, as they covered 75 yards in ten plays. Zach Warren was able to haul in a pass from Ryan Korfmacher, a 38-yard aerial equalizer. St Joe would use the remaining four minutes of the half to set up a 19-yard field goal by Max Taylor. This gave the Bears a 10-7 halftime lead.
Lakeshore got the football to start the second half, and Korfmacher made the big plays once again. A different Zach, Zach Ort, was the targeted receiver on the final play of the drive, completing a 10-yard scoring play. This gave the Lancers their first lead at 14-10.
On the ensuing kickoff, the ball sailed out of bounds. This gave St Joe the ball on the Lakeshore 38 yard line. Ten consecutive rushing plays allowed the Bears to plod their way down the field. On third-and-goal, Thomas Moore bowled across the goal line from a yard out. Max Taylor’s extra point gave St Joe a 17-14 advantage.
In the fourth quarter, Lakeshore had three drives to draw even with St Joe. They were unable to do so, punting on the first two possessions. On the final drive, they got into Bears’ territory, but they could not advance past the 41 yard line, turning the ball over on downs. At that point, St Joe was able to kneel the remaining time off of the clock.
Despite losing, Lakeshore outgained the Bears 285-209. Ryan Korfmacher was 14/22 passing for 136 yards, and he led the team with 75 yards on the ground. Trevor Griffith paced the receivers for the Lancers with 7 catches and 55 yards. Joron Brown was the lead offensive attack for St Joe, as he turned 29 carries into 102 yards.
This win snapped a three-game skid against the Lancers. Stevensville Lakeshore had knocked the Bears out of the playoffs in last year’s District Finals, as well as in 2017, 2016 and 2013. The last postseason win over the Lancers was in 2010. After some chaos in the 0ther district in this final, the Bears will return home for next week’s Regional Championship. Parma Western defeated Battle Creek Harper Creek 41-28, meaning that the Bears will host the Panthers in next week’s game.