The St Joseph Bears started this season at 5-0. They then suffered four straight defeats, albeit against the four best teams on their regular season schedule, to enter the postseason at 5-4. As the “Second Season” began, the Bears found their roar once more. They took down Zeeland West and Stevensville Lakeshore, both games that saw St Joe as heavy underdogs. This set up a Regional Final against Parma Western, who won 8 of their first 11 contests. The Bears’ playoff run continues after a dominant 49-13 victory against the Panthers.
In the first quarter, St Joe set the tone with three touchdowns. Joron Brown scored on their opening drive, a 9-yard plunge. On the ensuing Parma drive, Malik Immoos stepped in front of their pass, flipping the field. Trey McGinnis capitalized, rushing four yards for the score. Finally, Joron Brown returned to the end zone on a 2-yard dive, giving the Bears a commanding 21-0 lead.
Parma finally got on the scoreboard late in the second quarter, when Nolan Wheeler scored from a yard out. St Joe would round out the first half offense with a 16-yard pass from Matt Lanier to Riley Biggins. The Bears took their 28-7 lead into the locker room.
Momentum continued in St Joe’s favor throughout the second half. They scored the opening 21 points of the second half, all on the ground. Trey McGinnis found the end zone twice in the third quarter on runs of 5 and 14 yards respectively. Joron Brown added a 2-yard carry across the goal line in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. Parma’s Nolan Wheeler returned to the end zone to round out the scoring on both sides.
St Joseph outgained Parma 327-183 in this game. The Bears tallied 311 of those yards on the ground. As has been the norm, this is a diverse rushing attack. Joron Brown led the way with 94 yards, Trey McGinnis added 92 yards, Matt Lanier carried it 12 times for 74 yards, and Thomas Moore logged 51. Lanier completed his only passing attempt as well, the touchdown toss to Biggins. Defensively, Malik Immoos led the Bears with 6 tackles and the interception.
With this win, St Joseph captured their first Regional Championship since 2007. That Bears team ultimately lost to East Grand Rapids in the semifinals, amidst the dynasty run of the Pioneers. This Bears team will look to flip the script and advance to the school’s first State Championship game since 1988. Standing in their way will be the winner of Saturday’s game between DeWitt and Cedar Springs.