DETROIT, Michigan -- The second all-time meeting between Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes Lakers and the Muskegon Catholic Central Crusaders proved to be a hard fought defensive battle, in which Muskegon Catholic Central came away with a 7-0 victory over Our Lady of the Lakes to win the Michigan High School Athletic Association Division 8 State Championship.
In the first meeting, the Crusaders defeated the Lakers in the 2000 Division 8 semifinal game. This time, the teams appeared in the MHSAA Division 8 State Championship at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan.
A missed 39-yard field goal off the post from Jose Zambrano was the only thing that kept Muskegon Catholic (12-2) from scoring on their first drive of the game.
The Lakers (13-1) attempted to gain the momentum after the missed field goal from the Crusaders, but quarterback Clay Senerius threw his first of four interception on the day on their first possession.
Senerius threw another interception, this time early in the second quarter, as the Lakers were driving inside Crusader territory.
The Lakers found their first chance at points with 5:57 to play in the first half. Devin Senerius, who is the field goal kicker and All-State receiver, missed a field goal from 35 yards out, which prevented the Lakers from finding the scoreboard.
Clay Senerius and company entered the red zone with 1:31 to play in the half on a passing play. Great defense from Logan Helton and Nate Jones prevented a Lakers from scoring on the next play. Muskegon Catholic Central stopped the offense on fourth down, which ended the first half.
At the half, Our Lady of the Lakes owned 144 total yards and Muskegon Catholic Central had just 85 yards. That was due to the fact that the Crusaders had a weak five passing yards from the arm of Christian Martinez, while Clay Senerius threw for 116 yards. The tie marked the first time that Our Lady of the Lakes entered the locker room at halftime without a lead during the season.
A solid defensive stand for Muskegon Catholic Central set the tone for the second half. The Crusaders allowed a big first play, but locked down the Lakers the rest of the drive to force a punt.
Martinez has his halfback Walker Christofferson on the wheel route wide open, but the senior quarterback overthrew the junior. The incomplete pass forced the Crusaders to punt the ball away.
It was a game of three-and-out as Our Lady of the Lakes punted once more with 6:21 left in the third. It looked like the Lakers got the ball back with less than four minutes to play in the third quarter as Mclane Burtrun forced a fumble and recovered, but the runner, Christofferson, was ruled down before he lost the ball.
On third-and-six with 1:02 left in the third quarter Clay Senerius threw his third interception of the game on a pass to his twin, Devin Senerius. Intercepting the pass was Martinez, who is the quarterback and defensive back for Muskegon Catholic.
A 14-yard pickup from Christofferson with 10:29 left to play helped set up a score. On the very next play, Martinez capped off the 64-yard drive, started by his own interception on defense, with an eight-yard carry into the end zone. The score proved to be the game winner as it gave the Crusaders a 7-0 lead over the Lakers with 10:20 left in the fourth quarter.
“We had some key plays,’’ Martinez said to the Detroit Free Press. “We had a third down where the line blocked perfect. That kept the drive going. We had an explosive run by Walker that set up the touchdown. On the touchdown, Jacob Holt got around the edge and blocked two guys. He set it up perfectly for me to get in.’’
Christofferson gained 122 yards on the ground on 18 carries, while also picking up five yards on two receptions to help lead the Crusaders to victory.
On the next drive for the Lakers, it looked like the fourth interception for Clay Senerius as his pass went off the hands of a defender, but the ball bounced off the defensive back and fell into the arms of senior Ryan Kostich to bring up third-and-four. Just two plays later, Clay connected with Devan for a huge gain on fourth-and-one to give the Lakers life. It was the second fourth down conversion during the offensive drive for Our Lady of the Lakes.
With 3:21 left in the game, Clay Senerius threw his fourth interception from the Crusader 13-yard line. It was Christofferson who drained the life from Our Lady of the Lakes offense with the interception in the end zone.
Clay Senerius finished the game with 193 yards through the air on 17-of-27 passing, but four interceptions put a damper on his day at Ford Field.
“I made some bad reads; it was my fault,’’ he said after the game.
The 7-0 victory over Our Lady of the Lakes marked the third straight season that Muskegon Catholic Central has won the Division 8 State Championship.