The finish line for fall high school sports in the state of Michigan has been reached.
There are now immense challenges to ensure the winter and spring seasons can reach that same finish line, but for one night, the Michigan High School Athletic Association could at least rejoice that one objective was achieved.
The state football finals might have been nearly two months later than normal and over one month after they were originally anticipated, but they were completed over the weekend with championship games in all eight divisions.
Football was the last of the MHSAA’s fall sports seasons that needed to be finished after volleyball and girls swimming and diving finished up on Jan. 9.
Here’s an overview of the eight championship games.
West Bloomfield 41, Davison 0 - University of Michigan football fans still downtrodden over the team’s 2-4 season had reason to smile watching this game. One of the country’s top running back recruits who signed with Michigan, Donovan Edwards, stole the show and provided Michigan fans with hope that help is coming.
Edwards finished with 257 yards and three touchdowns on just 14 carries. He was 50 yards short of breaking the all-time championship game record, and might have done it had he not been pulled after three quarters because West Bloomfield (11-1) held a 38-0 lead.
It was West Bloomfield’s first state title in school history, but it was tempered later on with the news that head coach Ron Bellamy was leaving the program after 11 years to accept a job as an assistant coach under Jim Harbaugh at the University of Michigan.
Davison (11-1) was seeking its second straight state title and was dealt a blow in the first quarter when its best defensive player, Harrison Unger, left the game with a hamstring injury.
But with the way Edwards and West Bloomfield was rolling, it might not have mattered.
Muskegon Mona Shores 25, Warren De La Salle 19 - The third time since 2014 these teams played in the state championship game, Mona Shores avenged losses to De La Salle in the 2014 and 2018 championship games and won its second straight title, but it wasn’t easy. Mona Shores led 13-0 at halftime, but De La Salle stormed back and had the ball in the fourth quarter trailing 19-14.
But a fourth-and-3 gamble from its own 39 for De La Salle failed after an incomplete pass, and Mona Shores took adventage of the great field position to score a touchdown and go up 25-13 late in the game.
De La Salle scored a touchdown with 16 seconds left to account for the final margin.
Mona Shores was led by AP Division 1-2 state Player of the Year Brady Rose, a 5-foot-7 dynamo who never leaves the field because he plays quarterback, safety and on special teams.
Rose rushed for 154 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries and blocked an extra point.
DeWitt 40, River Rouge 30 - The 6th time proved to be the charm for DeWitt in the state finals. After going 0-5 in its previous appearances in the championship game, DeWitt finally won its first state title in school history by dethroning defending state champion River Rouge. DeWitt was in control throughout, but the biggest drive of the game came after River Rouge pulled within 33-22 with over 10 minutes left. DeWitt then put together an over six-minute scoring drive and took a 40-22 lead with 4:17 remaining to all but seal the game. DeWitt quarterback Tyler Holtz accounted for five touchdowns, going 12-of-16 passing for 177 yards and four touchdowns, and rushing for 118 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries. River Rouge quarterback Mareyohn Hrabowski threw for two touchdowns and rushed for two more touchdowns in defeat.
Birmingham Detroit Country Day 13, Cadillac 0 - Country Day broke a hex at Ford Field, given going into the game it had lost all five state championship games it had appeared in since 2007. But Country Day finally took home the state championship trophy for the first time since 1999 thanks to a dominant defensive effort. The Yellowjackets also shut out their semifinal opponent, Williamston, in a 12-0 win. Cadillac was seeking its first ever title.
Grand Rapids Catholic Central 48, Frankenmuth 21 - Grand Rapids Catholic Central won its fourth state title in the last five years, although the other three in 2016, 2017 and 2019 came in Division 4. Catholic Central jumped out to a 28-7 lead and kept it going behind its high-powered offense, which produced 296 rushing yards and 468 yards of total offense.
Montague 40, Clinton 14 - A dominant year for Montague that saw it outscore its opponents by an average of more than 38 points fitting concluded with a dominant performance in the state championship game. The title was enjoyed by four father-son duos who are coaches and players on the team, most notably starting quarterback and AP Division 5-6 Player of the Year Drew Collins and his father, Montague head coach Pat Collins.
Drew Collins finished 15-of-19 passing for 244 yards and three touchdowns.
New Lothrop 42, Traverse City St. Francis 35 - What looked to be a rout at halftime turned into quite an entertaining game by the time it was over. New Lothrop held a 35-7 lead at halftime, but St. Francis stormed back, scoring 21 unanswered points to make it 35-28 in the fourth quarter.
New Lothrop scored a touchdown with 2:26 remaining to go up 42-28, but St. Francis didn’t go away, answering with a touchdown of its own with 1:07 remaining to make it 42-35.
But New Lothrop recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock to win its second state title in three years.
Centreville 22, Ubly 0 - A battle of two teams in search of their first title in school history went the way of Centreville, which rode a ball-control offense and dominant defense to its first title. Centreville led 16-0 at halftime, which was more than enough offense for a defense that recorded its seventh shutout of the season.