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.”
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.”
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