The West Catholic Falcons and their fans made a long-anticipated trek back to Ford Field on Friday. It had been six years since they captured their fifth straight State Championship in 2017. The journey was well worth the wait, as 45 unanswered points powered West Catholic to the school’s 7th State Championship in the playoff era (since 1975).
Just sixteen seconds into the game, West Catholic got on the scoreboard. Bernie Varnesdeel took to the air, pairing up with Carter Perry on a 72-yard touchdown strike. This would be the only scoring play of the opening frame.
The Falcons doubled their lead midway through the second quarter, as Varnesdeel and Perry connected on a 32-yard touchdown. Negaunee tried to seize some momentum at the end of the half, when they scored on a touchdown toss from Ty Jacobson to Phil Nelson. At halftime, the Miners trailed 14-7.
Coming out of the locker room, Negaunee drew even. Phil Nelson fielded the opening kick standing on his own two-yard line. He sprung free, racing past the Falcons for a 98-yard kickoff return touchdown. The Miners had all the momentum and an even scoreboard.
West Catholic responded with a three-play touchdown drive, capped off by a 61-yard sprint by star tailback Tim Kloska. This was the start of a huge run by the Falcons.
After forcing a punt, the Falcons got back to work offensively. On the first play, Varnesdeel took to the air, finding Andrew McAlary for a 68-yard touchdown.
Carson Beekman added a field goal to push the lead to 17 points, before a fumble gave West Catholic another short field. Timmy Kloska returned to the end zone with a 16-yard run on the first play from scrimmage. His third touchdown came on the next drive, giving West Catholic a 45-14 third quarter lead.
In the fourth quarter, the Falcons continued to add to their lead with two additional scores. Kloska scored for the fourth time with a 13-yard carry. Finally, Elliot Zainea broke free for a 26-yard touchdown run.
West Catholic set the new MHSAA State Championship record with 59 points scored. It breaks the record previously set by Flint Powers Catholic (2011 Division 5) and Saginaw Nouvel (2011 Division 7). As a result, Carson Beekman set the MHSAA State Championship record for most made extra points in a game (8).
The Falcons outgained the Miners 520-178 in this victory. Tim Kloska led the way with 19 carries, 241 yards and 4 rushing touchdowns. Bernie Varnesdeel was effective, completing 5/10 passes for 225 yards and three scores. McAlary (121 yards) and Carter Perry (104) completed all their passes.