In Play with Tom Markowski

Muskegon well-represented in finals again

Football   | Tom Markowski

Muskegon well-represented in finals again


    Muskegon – There must be something in the water along the Lake Michigan shoreline that is responsible for the success of the football teams in this part of the state.

     Three teams from Muskegon will play for state championships at Ford Field this weekend quite an accomplishment for a (Muskegon) county that has just 13 high schools.

     Muskegon Catholic Central (13-0) will play Munising (12-1) for the Division 8 title on Friday at 10 a.m. Muskegon Monas Shores (12-1) will play Warren De La Salle (10-3) for the Division 2 title on Friday at 1 p.m. and Muskegon High (12-1) will play Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (11-2) for the Division 7 title on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

     It’s not unprecedented. In 2008 four teams (Montague, Muskegon, Muskegon C.C. and Muskegon Oakridge) from Muskegon County made it to the finals. People in this area proudly proclaimed these teams as the “four on the shore”.

    This year there are the old standbys, Muskegon and Muskegon C.C., schools that have a rich football tradition, and then there’s Mona Shores, which made the playoffs for the first time last season and won its first playoff game this season.

     Ron Pesch is the historian for high school sports in Michigan and knows more than just a few facts about Muskegon area football. He lives in North Muskegon and plans to attend, once again, all eight title games this weekend in downtown Detroit.

     It’s not surprising that Muskegon and Muskegon C.C. are in the finals. Both programs have made the trip often. Mona Shores’ recent success is a shocker. The school has had success in other sports but not football.

     “It’s mind-boggling,” Pesch said. “The running statement has been, the challenge at Mona Shores is to get more than just good hockey players there.”

    Justin Abdelkader of the Detroit Red Wings is a Mona Shores graduate and the school won the Division 2 hockey title in 2000 and was runner-up in ’04, ’07 and ’09.

    The school has won four boys golf titles (Class A in 1989, ’91, and Division 1 in 2000 and ’05).

     But football? Not so much. Since ’97 Mona Shores had one winning season until last season. Much of the credit goes to coach Matt Koziak, a Mona Shores graduate, who coached at Muskegon before returning to his alma mater.