Detroit — For the first time since 2014, Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central has captured a state championship — the Division 6 title against Maple City Glen Lake, 7-0, at Ford Field on Friday.
The game was won in the trenches where, combining offense and defense, Catholic Central (12-1) started nine seniors. Catholic Central racked up 250 rushing yards, averaging 4.3 yards per carry, while only allowing Glen Lake (12-2) just 52 yards on the ground and 127 yards total. If not for turnovers, one on downs and one fumble, Catholic Central would not have needed to rely on the slim, seven-point margin.
“As a kid, I went to the 2014 state championship game, and I remember sitting in the stands and thinking to myself, I want to be here one day,” Catholic Central senior quarterback Wyatt Bergmoser said. “I want to be here with my friends and grind it out and get a state championship for myself and that’s what we did. I love all my teammates for that.”
Starting offensive linemen Connor Bogdanski, Zach Patterson, Brendan Sloan, James Hawkins and Luke Bilan repeatedly caved the Glen Lake defensive line to make room for senior ball-carriers Alex Morgan, Sam Cousino and Bergmoser.
“It’s not really the score we anticipated, but that’s ok,” Bergmoser said. “We’re a grind-it-out team. We just rep our plays and if it comes down to the defense we let them do their thing. We have trust in each other.”
Morgan averaged 5.6 yards on 22 carries while Bergmoser ran for a 3.2-yard average on 12 carries and the game’s lone touchdown. Cousino chipped in with a 6.4-yard average on eight carries.
“Going into high school my freshman year, we knew we had a special class,” Morgan said. “We had one goal in mind for our senior year and that was to be right where we’re at right now. That’s an amazing feeling.”
Catholic Central’s rushing attack rarely produced big plays but always got the guaranteed yardage, stretching drives into drawn-out clock-draining affairs that shortened the game.
Once Glen Lake got down, it simply didn’t have many opportunities to catch back up. The game was almost entirely played in the middle of the field, between the red zones, an old school three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust field position battle.
It’s all part of Catholic Central coach Adam Kipf’s strategy. Get the guaranteed yardage. Go for it often on fourth and short. Keep the ball out of the other team’s hands. Don’t make mistakes.
“We moved the ball well in the first half and well enough in the second half,” Kipf said. “But credit Glen Lake. They had a great game plan, and they’ve got some great football players. I wish we could have moved the ball a little bit more.”
Catholic Central nearly doubled Glen Lake in time of possession and converted on four out of five fourth downs attempts. There were only 13 possessions between the two teams and Glen Lake committed eight penalties for 93 yards compared to none for Catholic Central.
“It’s part of the game,” Glen Lake coach Gerry Angers said about the penalties. “We don’t ever stew on that. They’re human beings just like us. I made some bad calls, but the refs didn’t say anything to me about it.”
When Catholic Central was on defense, starting defensive linemen Mason Gullen, Sloan, Bilan and Gus Flint stuffed up Glen Lake rushing lanes, forcing Glen Lake senior quarterback Reece Hazelton to attempt to go over the top, to little avail.
Bergmoser, playing strong safety on defense, was the main recipient of the defensive line’s work, leading the team with seven tackles.
The win is the 51st all-time playoff victory for Catholic Central, having appeared in the playoff 24 times now, and ninth playoff win for Kipf, who wrapped up his fifth season piloting Catholic Central.
This season marked the fifth-straight that Glen Lake has made the playoffs and 18th time overall, but it hasn’t won a state football title since 1994. It has now appeared in the finals four times and twice under Angers, who finished his 11th season at the helm. Glen Lake squeaked into the finals after winning its regional and semifinal by one point each and showed good growth after being eliminated by Beaverton in the first round last season, but it’s graduating 16 seniors.
Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central's Adam Kipf, Alex Morgan, Sam Cousino and Wyatt Bergmoser talk about their team's 7-0 win over Maple City Glen Lake on Friday. Eric Coughlin, The Detroit News
“That was one of the best football games I’ve been associated with,” Angers said. “Watching these kids battle every second, I can’t ask for anything more. It’s one of the best groups of kids I’ve ever worked with.”
Catholic Central got on the board in the second quarter. Bergmoser faked a handoff and sprinted right on a bootleg, outrunning the Glen Lake defense and putting Catholic Central up, 7-0. The play capped a 10-play, 94-yard drive that was the only score of the game.
Catholic Central’s most lethal drive actually ended in a punt. In the fourth quarter, Catholic Central embarked on a 55-yard drive that took 7:48 off the clock by converting two fourth downs, one from its own 33-yard line. Catholic Central couldn’t score, but the punt rolled to Glen Lake’s five-yard line, making a comeback unlikely with only 2:27 left.
“We’ve been doing that all year,” Kipf said. “We know Hazelton’s a great athlete, and we wanted to keep it out of his hands as much as possible. I had faith in our defense and confidence in our guys to make the play.”
On the ensuing drive, Glen Lake got into a 4th and 12, and Hazelton threw an interception to Caden Smith, who successfully high-pointed the ball and fought it away from the Glen Lake receiver, essentially ending the game.
Maple City Glen Lake's Gerry Angers, Reece Hazelton, Justin Bonzelet and Finn Hogan talk about their 7-0 loss to Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central on Friday. Eric Coughlin, The Detroit News
All games at Ford Field
Division 8: Reading 33, Beal City 6
Division 2: Muskegon Mona Shores 35, Detroit King 26
Division 6: Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 7, Maple City Glen Lake 0
Division 4: Grand Rapids Catholic Central 44, Detroit Country Day 0
Division 7: Pewamo-Westphalia (13-0) vs. Jackson Lumen Christi (12-0), 10 a.m. (FSD)
Division 1: Brighton (11-2) vs. Davison (11-2), 1 p.m. (FSD)
Division 5: Lansing Catholic (12-1) vs. Almont (13-0), 4:30 p.m. (FSD Plus)
Division 3: Muskegon (13-0) vs. River Rouge (12-1), 7:30 p.m. (FSD Plus)
Eric Coughlin is a freelance writer.