Photo Credit: Lou Murray
Grand Rapids Catholic Central making a trip to Ford Field is becoming as regular a Thanksgiving tradition as turkey, family drama, and a Detroit Lions loss. For the fifth time in six years, the Cougar fans will caravan to the Motor City for a Championship bout. They advance to the 2021 game with a 35-0 shutout against last year’s runner-up, the Frankenmuth Eagles.
In the first quarter, Grand Rapids Catholic Central got out to a blistering start. They found the end zone three times to create a 21-0 advantage. On their opening drive, John Passinault used his legs on a 2-yard keeper for the Cougars.
Frankenmuth muffed the ensuing kickoff, and the Cougars recovered with great field position. Passinault used his arm to create the next scoring chance, a 20-yard strike to Nate VanTimmeren. Another Passinault touchdown run moved the count to 21-0 just six minutes into the game.
After the initial shock, Frankenmuth settled in. They would hold Grand Rapids Catholic Central out of the end zone for the remaining eighteen minutes of the first half. The Eagles’ offense was unable to take advantage however, so they trailed 21-0 at the break.
Frankenmuth got the football to start the second half, but the Cougars put together a defense stand. They responded with a touchdown drive to extend their lead. Once again, it was Passinault, who was able to power into the end zone from a yard out.
Grand Rapids Catholic Central would tack on one more score in the third quarter, with Passinault airing it out. He found Devin Fridley-Bell on a 3-yard pass, bringing the game to its final count of 35-0. A running clock would conclude the final thirteen minutes of this game.
Frankenmuth came into this game with an offense that averaged 41.7 points per game. This was the first shutout dealt to the Eagles since they lost 34-0 to Flint Powers Catholic in the 2012 District Finals. Offensively, Frankenmuth had just 139 yards, 131 on the ground.
John Passinault spearheaded the offense that racked up 410 yards. Passinault was 20/27 passing for 321 yards. He also rushed 15 times for 85 yards. On the receiving end, Nolan Ziegler paced the group with 173 yards on 10 catches. Ronin Russell-Dixon added 131 yards on 7 receptions. Defensively, Brady Redmer (12), Jack Cook (12), Jack Klafeta (10) and Nolan Ziegler (10) all recorded double-digit tackles.
With this victory, the Cougars return to the State Championship game looking for their third State Championship in a row. Standing in their way will be the unbeaten Mariners of Marine City. They are back in the State Championship game for the first time since their 2013 crown, after defeating Portland 27-7 in the semifinals.
The State Championship game will kick off at 4:30 on Saturday afternoon at Ford Field.