The Grand Rapids Catholic Central Cougars took their 34-game win streak into battle on Friday evening, squaring off with the Oakridge Eagles in the Regional Finals. It was a rematch of last year’s regionals, a 58-7 thrashing. This time around, it was closer, but in the end the Cougars will advance to the Semifinals once again after a 25-6 victory.
In the first half, offense was extremely limited as the teams battled the elements at the CAT. With snow being plowed off of the field, the chilly and wet evening inhibited offenses across the state. The lone scoring play came late in the first quarter, when John Passinault found Nolan Zeigler on a 23-yard strike. John Meyer booted the extra point, giving the Cougars a 7-0 lead they would take into the locker room.
GRCC extended their lead with a passing touchdown on their opening drive of the second half. Again it was Passinault and Zeigler connected for six points. This go-around saw the duo score on a 32-yard touchdown pass. After recording a stop, Passinault threw his third touchdown of the game. Ronin Russell-Dixon was the open receiver, and he had the football across the goal line on an explosive 60-yard passing play. Two failed conversion left GRCC ahead 19-0.
Oakridge finally scored on the ensuing kickoff, as Brian Elizondo raced past the coverage team on a 65-yard score. With eleven seconds to play in the frame, Zeigler used his legs on a 27-yard rushing score.
John Passinault finished 7/10 passing for GRCC, racking up 152 yards and three scores. Nolan Zeigler was the top target with four catches, 84 yards and two touchdowns. Zeigler added 53 rushing yards and a touchdown on 8 carries. Ronin Russell-Dixon added 61 receiving yards. Jack Rellinger led the Cougars rushing attack with 96 yards on 19 carries.
This is the sixth straight Regional Championship for Grand Rapids Catholic Central. Winners of the State Championship in each of the past two seasons, the Cougars will look to make their third straight trip to Ford Field with a win in the semifinals. They will play the winner of Saturday’s game between Frankenmuth and Kingsley.