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Mona Shores vs. Zeeland West football matchup only a part of ‘Sailor Salute’ spectacle

Annual event honoring active-duty military, veterans and first responders returns after one-year break.

Photo courtesy of Bailey Graham | Mona Shores Publications

The OK Green Conference football game between Mona Shores and Zeeland West Friday night should be a sight to see.

That will be just part of the spectacle for Mona Shores’ home opener at Sailor Stadium.

The “Sailor Salute” is making a return after a one-year hiatus as the result of the coronavirus pandemic. This will be the fifth edition of the annual event, which honors active-duty military, veterans and first responders.

“It’s our first home game. The Sailor Salute is obviously a big deal to us,” Mona Shores coach Matt Koziak told MLive after the Sailors’ 56-26 victory over Grand Rapids Union last Friday.

“Great opponent – we’ve had great opponents. They’re going to come in hungry and ready to play, so we’ve got to be ready. Thank goodness we don’t have to travel and we’re back at home and our kids finally get to play a home game.”

Mona Shores, the two-time defending Division 2 state champion, enters with a 2-1 overall record and 1-0 mark in the OK Green. Zeeland West, which fell at home to Muskegon last week, 28-20, is 1-1 overall and 0-1 in league play.

Like Mona Shores, Zeeland West’s program has won multiple state titles. The teams met in the inaugural Sailor Salute in 2016, with the Dux beating the Sailors, 32-28.

Photo courtesy of Bailey Graham | Mona Shores Publications

At the Sailor Salute, all active-duty personnel, police, fire and first responders are admitted free. For others, tickets cost $5 for adults and $3 for students. All members of the public are welcome.

The game kicks off at 7 p.m. Gates to the stadium open at 5 p.m.  Parking is available on school grounds, including the football practice field behind the lot on the east side of campus. Overflow parking will be available at Mona Shores’ soccer complex, as well as at Fairway Farms and neighboring churches.

Prior to the game, fans are welcome to walk around the facility to see and take pictures of a variety of military and emergency responder vehicles. Interactive displays from each military branch as well as those for Muskegon-area fire and police departments, will be set up.

A “Community Mass Choir” will sing “God Bless America” and the national anthem on the field before the game. Everybody from the community is invited to be part of the choir. Rehearsal for the community choir is 5:15 p.m.

Here are other happenings during the Sailor Salute:

  • POW/MIA remembrance ceremony that includes a moment of silence and the playing of “Taps.”
  • Mona Shores High School will host a VIP food tent for veterans, military and first responders.
  • The football teams will participate in a special meet and greet with all veterans, military, police, fire and first responder just prior to the game.
  • Hundreds of members of various motorcycle groups who support veterans, will parade to the football facility and set their bikes up in the main parking lot.
  • The Hooligan Flight Team will make a number of passes over Sailor Stadium in conjunction with the national anthem.
  • Several new military enlistees will participate in the Oath of Enlistment ceremony.
  • During the game, there will also be a “MINUTE OF CHANGE” to raise funds for local veterans’ organizations.
  • Cheerleaders from both Zeeland West and Mona Shores will knock out 22 pushups in observance of the  1 Tribe Foundation’s effort to create a community that raises awareness and combats suicide by empowering veterans, first responders, medical frontline workers and their families through traditional and non-traditional therapies.

Lead writer for CatchMark SportsNet and Web Services leader for CatchMark Technologies.



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