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Muskegon Catholic Central earns 500th football win in game vs. neighboring Heights

Crusaders pull away from Tigers to reach milestone.

Muskegon Catholic Central head football coach Steve Czerwon oversees practice Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, in Muskegon, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

Entering Friday night’s contest at Muskegon Heights, Muskegon Catholic Central earned many of the 499 wins in its storied football program with defense and a balanced rushing attack.

The Crusaders used more of the latter than the former in notching win No. 500. They outrushed the host Tigers, 370-152, en route to a 52-20 victory at Phillips Field.

MCC improves to 5-1 overall on the season and 2-0 in the Lakes 8 Activities Conference. The Crusaders will try to win the outright league title against Manistee on homecoming night next Friday, when they’ll celebrate the 500-victory milestone at Kehren Stadium.

“I think that’s going to be pretty special. We have some old coaches coming back, giving the community a chance to recognize it,” said Steve Czerwon, who is the 11th head coach in MCC’s football history, which dates back to 1953.

Muskegon Catholic Central senior Elliot Riegler poses for a portrait outside the school after football practice Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, in Muskegon, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

MCC’s success has been built on coaching continuity, consistency and family. Senior quarterback Elliot Riegler, a third-generation Crusader, had a big night Friday.

The son of 1990 MCC state champion QB Andy Riegler rushed for a game-high 134 yards on 11 carries with touchdown runs of 1 and 19 yards. He also completed 5 of 7 passes for 90 yards and a TD.

“He ran the ball well and also threw (well) …,” Czerwon said. “He was really sharp both running and passing.”

The Crusaders’ David Hill rushed for 85 yards on 12 carries, while Joe Waller had 82 yards and two TDs on 10 attempts.

Bryan Convertini, a second-generation MCC player, tacked on 41 yards with a 25-yard TD run included. He also threw a 30-yard halfback TD pass to brother Sam Convertini with 2 seconds left in the first half to give the Crusaders a 28-12 lead at the break.

It proved a back-breaker for Muskegon Heights (4-2, 1-2), which lost its second-straight game.

Muskegon Catholic Central senior Sam Convertini poses for a portrait outside the school after football practice Wednesday, Sept. 29, 2021, in Muskegon, Mich. (Scott DeCamp | CatchMark)

“(It took) a little wind out of their sails,” said Czerwon, whose team was hit with a 72-yard Muskegon Heights TD pass seconds earlier from Ja’Kari Edwards to Ashton Smith, which made it a 20-12 game at the moment.

“I think they had a little more momentum when they hit that big pass. It could have been a lot more dangerous in the second half. Getting that was important.”

MCC broke it open with three third-quarter TDs to make it a 52-12 game. It stayed that way until Heights hit another TD pass with 3:20 left.

Despite the lopsided loss, Edwards had a nice game statistically for the Tigers. He rushed nine times for 105 yards, including a 63-yard scoring run. He completed 8 of 16 passes for 227 yards. His No. 1 target was Smith, who hauled in five passes for 197 yards and two TDs.

Sam Convertini had two receiving TDs for MCC. Will Gowin paced the Crusaders defense with four tackles, while Hill had an interception.

Anthony Floyd recorded a game-high eight tackles for Muskegon Heights. Edwards and Damond Davis made seven stops apiece.

In its history, MCC has won 13 state championships. The first came in 1974 under coach Roger Chiaverini, followed by two under Pete Kutches in 1980 and 1982. Mike Holmes guided the Crusaders to six state championships (1990, 1991, 1995, 2000, 2006 and 2008).

MCC won state titles in each of Czerwon’s first four seasons (2013-16). Eighty-one of the Crusaders’ 500 wins have come during Czerwon’s nine seasons at the helm.

“We spoke all week about the importance of winning No. 500,” Czerwon said in a release. “These players are inspired by the tradition handed to them by the teams and players who won the previous 499.”

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

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