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Monday February 26, 2024
NAILBITER LOSS: Maroons Football Battles Hard

Story courtesy of MHSAA; Click the AUDIO buttons to hear the Radio Broadcast from Menominee's Bay City Radio. Photos available for purchase at https://hwaphotos.smugmug.com/2013-1126-MHSAA-Football-Finals/Division-7-JLC-vs-Menominee/i-3MFdBLd/A

Jackson Lumen Christi piled up 92 percent of its total yards Sunday morning on the ground.

So, trailing by three points with time running down in the fourth quarter and facing a 4th-and-4 situation on the Menominee 11-yard line, the Titans, of course, went to the air.

“It was a play we put in this week, and we (practiced) it over and over,” explained Lumen Christi junior quarterback Timmy Crowley. “Actually, it goes back to the summer and the connection that I developed with Gabe (King).”

Crowley delivered a strike to King on the sideline near the goal line, and King then spun into the end zone for the game-winning score with 4:04 remaining in an eventual 34-30 victory over upset-minded Menominee in a Division 7 title game shootout at Ford Field.

Menominee (11-3) had one final chance, driving into Lumen Christi territory, before senior quarterback Trevor Theuerkauf was hauled down from behind by freshman Lundon Hampton on fourth down to seal the win.

“It was an entertaining game, for sure,” said 44th-year Lumen Christi coach Herb Brogan, who was frustrated by some of his team’s blown coverages. “I like the way that we answered, time and time again.”

Lumen Christi (13-1) won its second consecutive Division 7 title, its fifth championship over the past eight years and 13th overall – 11th under Brogan – moving the program into a tie with Farmington Hills Harrison for the most football titles in MHSAA history.

It didn’t look good early for the Titans, as the Maroons used a 2-yard run by Landan Barkowski and a 34-yard pass from Theuerkauf to tight end Eli Beal to take a stunning 14-0 lead by the end of the first quarter.

The Titans settled down in the second quarter and fought back behind the speed, power and tackle-breaking ability of junior running back Kadale Williams (6-foot-1, 180 pounds), who finished with 27 carries for 276 yards and three touchdowns.

“It starts with the guys up front,” explained Williams, who rarely went down without multiple Maroons clutching onto him. “Once they do their jobs and create a gap, I owe it to them to make a play every time.”

Williams broke loose on TD runs of 1 and 45 yards during the second quarter, making the score 14-14 at halftime.

That set the stage for a classic back-and-forth second half, with both teams refusing to lose.
Menominee, a perennial power for years behind its tightly-packed, single-wing offense, showed off its offensive evolution under second-year coach Chad Brandt, who has incorporated elements of the spread. The Maroons kept the Titans guessing with a balanced attack, passing for 199 yards and rushing for 143.

“We were able to run and throw to keep them off balance, which is what we have been doing all year,” said Brandt, who was head coach at Stephenson in the Upper Peninsula for 20 years before coming to Menominee as an assistant coach in 2018. “We saw the predictions, but our kids are resilient. We were able to display our skills and just came up one play short.”

Lumen Christi stuck almost exclusively to the ground, with 351 rushing yards and 29 passing yards, scoring in the third quarter on a 1-yard run by Crowley and then early in the fourth quarter on a 3-yard run by Williams.

Each time the Titans took the lead in the second half and appeared poised to take control, the Maroons struck back, first on a 21-yard scoring scramble by Theuerkauf and then a 76-yard pass from Theuerkauf to Isaiah Odom, which gave them a 30-27 lead in the fourth quarter.

Then came the game-winning drive, as the Titans went 61 yards in 10 plays, culminating with the game-winning, 11-yard pass from Crowley to King.

Menominee was surely keying on Williams by that point in the game, which set up the winning play-action pass.

“I think we wear people down up front,” said Brogan, who took over the Lumen Christi program in 1980 after the death of Jim Crowley, who guided the Titans to their first two titles in 1977 and 1979. “When you do that and create seams, Kadale is going to make plays.”

The Titans started four juniors up front in guards Andrew Salazar and Maverick Stergakos, center Drew Sweeney and tight end Charlie Saunders. The only senior starters on the offensive line were tackles Aiden Pastoriza and Luke Smith.

Both teams performed admirably on the big Ford Field stage, with just six total penalties and no turnovers.

Theuerkauf (5-11, 175) was all over the field during his final prep game, starting at his safety spot with a game-high 17 tackles (10 solos). He completed 9-of-22 passes for 199 yards and rushed 15 times for 84 yards.

Eli Beal made four catches for 63 yards and Tanner Theuerkauf, Trevor’s sophomore brother, had two catches for 42 yards. Blake Paasch made six tackles, and Beal and Tanner Theuerkauf each had five stops.

Both Crowley and Williams return next season for Lumen Christi, and their goal is to break the record for Finals wins.

“It’s so much fun handing the ball off to (Williams) and watching him run,” said Crowley, who finished 2-of-6 passing for 29 yards. “It means a lot with our tradition to win it, but I want to get back here next year and do it again.”

Isaac Rehberg carried seven times for 49 yards for Lumen Christi, while Josh Dumont and

Ryan Walicki led the defense with eight tackles apiece.

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