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Caledonia too much for Mona Shores, ousting two-time defending state champ

Fighting Scots get revenge after falling to Sailors in tough district final last year.

Mona Shores players prepare to take on Caledonia Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Grandville, Mich. (Tanya Burel | CatchMark)

GRANDVILLE — On its way to a second-straight Division 2 state championship last season, Mona Shores’ football team outlasted Caledonia in a hard-fought district final at Sailor Stadium.

With a district title on the line again Friday at Grandville, Caledonia got its revenge. The Fighting Scots scored early and often en route to a 49-12 victory over the Sailors in a matchup of runners-up from the OK Red and OK Green conferences, respectively.

Mona Shores finishes its season with an 8-3 record, marking the end of an impressive four-year run in which the Sailors captured the two state titles and played in the state finals at Ford Field three seasons in a row.

Caledonia (10-1) advances to next week’s regional finals, hosting Traverse City Central (10-1), which defeated Bay City Western 55-18 on Friday.

Mona Shores never seemed to be able to get into a rhythm against Caledonia, which the Sailors edged 43-35 in 2020.

“We were off today and we didn’t play well enough to beat Caledonia,” Mona Shores coach Matt Koziak said. “They are a really good football team and they gave us a ton of fits on both sides of the ball. Coach (Derek) Pennington and his staff in year one have done a great job. It’s important that we don’t take away from that.”

Mona Shores senior quarterback Mark Konecny (10) scans the defense pre-snap Friday, Nov. 5, 2021, in Grandville, Mich. (Tanya Burel | CatchMark)

Caledonia sent a message early. After stopping Mona Shores with a three-and-out on the first series of the game, the Scots marched down the field and took a 7-0 lead. They never looked back.

Caledonia led 7-0 after one quarter, 28-6 at halftime and 35-12 entering the fourth. The Scots were dominant in the running game, piling up 391 yards compared to 102 for the Sailors.

Caledonia junior quarterback Mason McKenzie had a big night. He rushed for 195 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries, plus he finished 11-of-16 passing for 128 yards with three TDs and two interceptions.

Sophomore Brock Townsend added 114 rushing yards and a TD on 15 carries. Juice Reed had six receptions for 79 yards with a TD.

Mona Shores senior quarterback Mark Konecny was 8-of-12 for 77 yards before he left the game with an ankle injury. In his absence, senior Landon Thalman completed 5 of 8 passes for 43 yards, including a 15-yard TD pass to senior Demetri Roberson in the third quarter.

Junior Dahmir Farnum paced the Sailors’ running game with nine carries for 51 yards, including a 1-yard run in the second quarter to put his team on the board.

Elijah Johnson led Mona Shores defensively with nine tackles, including a sack. Farnum and senior Jeff Lenartowicz had eight stops each for the Sailors.

Trailing 28-6 at halftime, Koziak challenged his team. “We tried to look into their eyes and said, ‘Don’t walk out that door if you don’t believe that you can’t come back and win, and I mean that,'” Koziak said.

Mona Shores ran into a buzzsaw Friday night, but that should not detract from the legacy left by the Sailors’ seniors.

In the last four seasons, Mona Shores has compiled a 44-7 record.

Koziak spoke to his team behind closed doors following the game before the Sailors headed to their buses.

“As painful as that was in there, there’s no place that I would have rather been. I made sure to tell them that this season was a huge success,” Koziak said.

“The legacy that they leave is awesome. We can’t judge our program on state championships — it’s on the relationships that you build and the memories and the moments.”

In this file photo, Mona Shores football coach Matt Koziak patrols the sideline during a game against Muskegon Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, at Sailor Stadium in Norton Shores, Mich. (Zach Zweigle | CatchMark)

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