Muskegon Mona Shores running back Dom Shermeta dropped his bucket Friday night in the biggest high school football game in the state.
But that doesn’t mean he fumbled the ball.
“No,” insisted Mona Shores coach Matt Koziak. “It means he lowered his shoulder.”
It happened early in the second half of Mona Shores’ showdown with Muskegon and Mona leading, 7-3.
“Dom broke loose; he sees the free safety and instead of trying to make him miss, he drops his bucket,” Koziak said Saturday morning. “He ran him over and then goes another 40 yards for a touchdown.”
Shermeta’s dropping-his-bucket move was the play that sparked Mona Shores to its 21-18 victory over Muskegon, so people on the west side of the state will remember that move for some time.
“It was on every news channel over here,” Koziak said. “They continued to loop it and show it because it was a typical run by him. He’d rather run through you than around you.”
Shermeta finished with 171 yards on 25 carries. When you throw in the 81 yards quarterback Tyler Trovinger gained on 13 carries, it was a departure of form for the Sailors.
Mona Shores may have the best receiving trio in the state in Hunter Broersma (Western Michigan), Darece Roberson (WMU) and Kobe Burse (Miami of Ohio), but those three combined to catch only four passes for 43 yards.
“We are an up-tempo, no-huddle, get-the-ball-on-the-perimeter team, and Muskegon watches film and they took that away from us,” said Koziak. “The way they defended us we needed to get the running game going, and Dom and Tyler were just lights out. They were just warriors last night.”
Mona Shores (8-0, No. 3 in Division 2) built a 21-3 lead before Muskegon (6-2, No. 2 in Division 3) came roaring back — just as you would expect from the winningest program in the state.
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The Big Reds missed a 48-yard field goal in the final minute to prevent the game from going into overtime.
“My hat’s off to them,” Koziak said. “They’re Muskegon and they’re resilient and they’re well-coached and their kids fight and they came back. At the end of the game, I had a real weird feeling. It took me awhile to actually let it set in what we did, because of the way the game came down at the end.”
Mona Shores had virtually no football success before Koziak arrived five years ago, suffering through 12 losing seasons in the previous 13 and with no playoff appearances in school history.
After seasons of 1-8 and 4-5, Koziak’s third team made the state playoffs. Last year’s 12-2 team battled all the way to the Division 2 state championship game before falling to Warren De La Salle.
In Week 8 last season, Mona Shores thumped Muskegon, 48-27, but this latest win over Muskegon may have been even more satisfying.
“It shows that last year wasn’t a fluke, I hope,” Koziak said. “It shows that this program has come a long ways in what we’re trying to do. I thought last year, to be honest, that win at Muskegon in Hackley Stadium was kind of our signature win — and I’m talking about the last 53 years.
“So for our kids to be able to do this against a great Muskegon team, I hope justifies that this is who we are now. We’re not going away.”
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No, the Sailors are going to the Division 2 state playoffs. Muskegon has also qualified for the state playoffs, but the Big Reds will likely land in Division 3 again.
“Obviously it would be great to have that rematch, but I don’t want either of us to knock each other out,” Koziak said. “It was so cool last year to be at Ford Field with them, along with Muskegon Catholic Central, so I hope they bump to D-3 just for that.”
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.