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Lowell wrestlers grab 38-25 power win over Mishawaka (IN)

Mishawaka (IN) and Lowell have been taking turns crossing the Michigan/Indiana state lines to wrestle one another for a half dozen years.

During that time, the traditional wrestling powers have also taken turns at being recognized nationally for their excellence on the mat.

This year it was Lowell who entered the match as a defending state champion (Division 2), with returning state champion wrestlers and ranked nationally (16th).

“A few years ago that was us,” said second-year Cavemen wrestling coach Charlie Cornett. “We want to return to that.”

His Cavemen competed but were not quite able to match the strength of the Red Arrows.

Lowell won seven of the final nine matches en route to a 38-25 win.

“The boys stepped up tonight and came away with a victory against a tough  wrestling team,” said Lowell wrestling coach R.J. Boudro.

The Red Arrows grabbed an early 3-0 lead when Austin Engle earned a decision at 160 pounds. Mishawaka then rattled off three straight wins at 170, 182 and 195 pounds.

Lowell’s Josh Colegrove (220) ended the run when he posted a pin at 3:06 of the second period against Tanner Bradley.

Logan Wilcox (HWT) followed suit with a second-period pin (2:58). Kyle Washburn added a 12-5 decision at 113 pounds and Lucas Hall (120) ran the win streak to four with a pin at 2:18 of the second period, giving Lowell a 25-13 advantage.

“We have big expectations for Wilcox and he’s been huge for us early on,” said Boudro. “I think we’re all getting spoiled by Hall and what he brings to the mat.”

Aaron Ward (126) increased Lowell’s lead to 16 at 29-13 with a 11-3 win over Devin Beaver.

The two teams split the final four matches with Mishawaka earning pins at 132 (Francisco Ortiz) and 152 pounds (Tommy Forte).

Lowell, meanwhile, benefitted from Zeth Dean’s (138) technical decision (15-0) and David Kruse’s 9-1 win at 145 pounds.

“Zeth is ranked fourth in the state and has just been an animal out there on the mat,” Boudro explained.

Cornett explained that the loss to Lowell exposed his club’s need to work on some basics and to wrestle smarter. “We’re still  pretty far away from where we want to be. That’s why we wrestle teams like Lowell, if you want to be the best you have to wrestle against the best.”

For Lowell, it marked the send straight week it has wrestled under different weight classifications.

“Only in Michigan do we still wrestle under the old national federation weight classes,” Boudro explained. “I think everybody else changed to the new weight classifications back in 2011.”


Tough Illinois dual, Lowell’s first test in journey to defend wrestling championship

Lowell wrestling coach R.J. Boudro was greeted with an apology upon his Red Arrows arrival at the Lockport Super Dual in Lockport, Illinois.

Lockport wrestling coach Josh Oster expressed his regrets that Lowell had been scheduled to wrestle some of the tournament’s toughest competition.

Boudro’s response was clear, “That’s what we traveled here for.”

Lowell and all of its highly ranked Illinois wrestling schools were all anxious to wrestle different teams,  and the best competition the duals had to offer.

“It’s not my goal to have wrestlers go 50-0. It’s my goal to make sure they are tested. That means wrestling against the toughest competition,” Boudro said.

The Red Arrows, ranked number one in the Division 2 pre-season poll,  opened with Marist on Friday night. Lowell defeated the eighth ranked  3A school 36-29. It was Lowell’s first win in three attempts against Marist.

On Saturday, the Red Arrows defeated Lockport (3A, 11th ranked) , 39-32. It’s only loss at the super dual came against Oak Forest (2A, ranked 3rd), 30-27. Lowell finished the tournament with a 32-23 win over the Falcons of Wheaton North.

All four of the schools we wrestled would be top ranked teams in our area,” Boudro explained. “Their lineups didn’t have any breaks.”

Wrestling strong schools comes with a risk. “While we want to wrestle tough competition, you don’t want the kids to lose confidence as a result. That is why it’s important to mix in some mid grade-level competition.”

Lowell opened its 2014-15 campaign with wins over Carson City-Crystal and Sanford Meridian.

The Red Arrows received notable performances by a number of wrestlers during its weekend visit to Lockport.

* Lucas Hall majored the number one ranked wrestler in Illinois.

* Junior Logan Blough, first year varsity, won three of his four matches.

* Josh Colegrove recorded a pin in each of his four matches.

* Sophomore Sam Russell picked up pins against Marist and Wheaton North.

* Max Dean posted an important pin in his match against Oak Forest.

Nestled in the middle of Lowell’s lineup are four freshmen. Austin Engle (160), Keigan Yuhas (152), David Kruse (145) and George Gonzales (171). “They’ll play pivotal roles. They are tough kids.”

“Overall the wrestling styles from state to state are all the same Boudro noted. “The cultures are a little different , but the wrestling styles don’t change. In Illinois there isn’t as much a emphasis on dual meets,” he explained.

The expectations for the 2014-15 season are high for the defending Division II state champions, but the coach likes the lofty expectations and wouldn’t expect less.

“None of it will come without a whole bunch of hard work,” Boudro said.

Lowell’s hard work and toughness will be tested again this weekend as it travels to Mishawaka, IN to wrestle the Cavemen.

“It’s a good wrestling program and we will see some top notch wrestlers,” Boudro concluded.

Zeeland West earns second straight regional title with 30-27 win over Lowell

In the traditional style I formation or wishbone offenses, three yards usually resulted in a cloud of dust.

In Zeeland, John Shillito’s wing-T, three yards oftentimes results in two points. The Dux converted on three of four two-point conversions in their Division 3 regional final against Lowell and that proved to be the difference in a thrilling 30-27 victory.

“In this style offense you should be able to get three yards every time you run the football,” Shillito explained.

While Zeeland West’s 75 percent conversion rate was enough,  a number of big defensive stops are what secured the Dux a tough, hard fought, second straight regional title and ran its winning streak to 24 in a row.

“We got some big plays (four stops) against a good offensive team,” Shillito said.  “At this point in the tournament you don’t win nothing but tough games.”

The Dux also came out of the blocks fast and punctuated its opening drive with a rare 56-yard touchdown pass from Casey Brinks to Dakota Geurink. A two-point conversion gave Zeeland an 8-0 lead.

“Lowell came out ready to play off tackle. I was surprised we were able to get a guy open down field on our first possession,” Shillito explained.

The Red Arrows , however, a perennial state power, did not freeze up in the 30 degree temperature. It hung around for the full 48 minutes, helping to author one of the states’s top regional games between two of its top state ranked teams.

“We did everything right. The kids played and competed well ,” said Lowell football coach Noel Dean. “It came down to our first and last possessions of the first half, our last possession of the game and their two-point conversions. I’m proud of our kids’ performance tonight.”

Trailing 30-27, Lowell’s defense forced Zeeland to punt from its own 34 yard line with a little under five minutes to play in the game. The Red Arrows on its final possession, marched from its own 40 yard line to the Dux 41 on four consecrative running plays where it faced third and four. Instead of continuing with a rushing  game that amassed over 300 yards on the ground, the Red Arrows chose to go to the air. Two incomplete passes ended the young Arrows state title journey.

Asked if his young squad had exceeded his expectations, Dean was quick and sharp with his response. “We can’t exceed our expectations, this is the regional finals. The Lowell program always has high expectations.”

Zeeland scored touchdown on two of its three  first half possessions. It’s second touchdown of the half came on a nine-yard run by Darius Perisse. A two-point conversion increased its lead to 10 (16-6).

Lowell made it 16-13 midway through the second quarter on a three yard burst by Max Dean. The junior also tallied Lowell’s fist touchdown of the night on a nine yard run to open the second quarter.

The Dux churned up seven minutes of the third quarter with a 14-play, 73 scoring drive capped off by Hick Jasch’s four yard scamper, increasing Zeeland West’s lead to 11 at 24-13 with its third two-point conversion.

Lowell, as all championship programs do, responded with a 13-play, 72-yard touchdown drive. Dean capped it off with a three-yard run cutting its deficit to 24-19, the two-point conversion failed.

Zeelands\’s Jasch opened the final eight minutes with a six yard touchdown run, pushing the Dux lead to 11 at 30-19, the two-point conversion failed.

Lowell, again followed up a Dux touchdown with one of its own. This time, the Red Arrows traveled 79 yards with Dean bursting through for a 20-yard yard touchdown run, his fourth of the night. The two-point conversion was good and Lowell was within three at 30-27.

Dean finished with 167 yards on the ground on 32 carries.

Lowell quarterback Ryan Stevens ran 134 yards and threw for 78.

“Dean is a much more powerful running back than he looks on film,” Shillito explained. “Lowell is also a much faster team than its film might indicate. Some of that is due to it plays in the mud (on natural turf)”

Geurink led the Dux rushing attack with 117 yards.

“Playing a team as good as Lowell gave us motivation and makes this regional title even more special,” Geurink explained.

Shillito gave a shout out to his defensive coordinator Gregg Hoogland. “The 30-27 score indicated our defense played well against a perennial state power.”

The Zeeland coach added praise for defensive back Evan McDonald. “He was the key to our defensive effort . Evan made it difficult for Lowell to get the ball to their main guy (Gabe Steed),” Sillito explained. The Lowell junior had two catches for 36 yards.

Lowell’s season ends at 10-2. Zeeland, now 11-0 advances to play the winner of Petoskey and Muskegon.

Lowell rolls GR Christian 49-31 in district championship; next up undefeated Zeeland West

A second inauspicious start in as many weeks concluded with another happy ending Friday night at Lowell as the Red Arrows earned a Division 3 District Championship with a 49-31 win over Grand Rapids Christian.

Lowell football coach Noel Dean described the 2014 post season opponents as a gauntlet of championship programs.

“Last week it was East Grand Rapids, tonight Grand Rapids Christian,” Dean explained. In his matter of fact approach the Lowell coach warned of a third, next week’s opponent,  Zeeland West (11-0), a 30-28 winner over Stevensville Lakeshore.

“i’ve known coach John Shillitto for a long time. I also know his style of football has worked at every school he has coached,” Dean said.

The Lowell coach will take a band of Red Arrows, who may have played its best football of the season in its 17-point victory over the Eagles, into the regional.

“We’ve been running the ball better lately and tonight we did it against a club that has defended the run well this year. Tonight, we also mixed in some timely passes,” Dean explained.

Lowell rolled up 212 yards on the ground. Junior Max Dean led the way with 131 yards and two touchdowns. Junior quarterback Ryan Stevens added 81 by foot while throwing for 184 yards. Stevens was 9-of-11 with three of those completions going for touchdowns.

The catch of all catches was recorded by junior Gabe Steed, who with an extended right arm, snared a pass out of the cold thick air while barely slowing his stride and raced 65-yards for a game-tying (14-14) touchdown.

Dean smiled and shrugged his shoulders when asked if Steed’s remarkable reception was lucky and not good or good and not lucky. “Gabe seems to have really picked up his game over the last couple of weeks.”

The Eagles opened the game with its own remarkable reception when Qi’antae Ewing threw back across the field to quarterback Lukas Thompson who then raced 90 yards for the game’s first touchdown.

Lowell went three and  out on its first possession, but caught a break when Grand Rapids Christian fumbled the punt.

The turnover fueled a Red Arrow 47-yard touchdown drive capped off by an eight-yard run by Dean.

The Eagles grabbed the lead back on its next possession with a 10-yard pass-and-catch from Thompson to Patrick Hall. It would be the final touchdown Grand Rapids Christian’s offense would score against the Lowell defense.

Withe game tied at 14-14, Lowell recorded three more touchdown before halftime. The first came on a 39-yard scoring strike from Stevens to Josh Branagan. With just under eight minutes to play in the first half, Dean busted in from the two yard line. Then, with less than two minutes to play in the half it was Stevens to Branagan, again, this time on a 25-yard pass play.

The only second quarter points the Eagles tallied were on a 33-yard field goal.

Grand Rapids Christian scored second half touchdowns on a fumble recovery and a 63-yard return by Ewing. With less than five minutes to play Eagle linebacker Jack Bates picked a teammate’s fumble out of the air and raced 31 yards for Christian’s final score of the night.

Lowell’s second half touchdown came on runs of 29 and 11 yards by Dean.

The Red Arrow defense held the Eagles to 101 yards on the ground and 166 through the air.



Steed’s dramatic winning touchdown reception lifts Lowell to 28-27 pre-district win over East Grand Rapids

Lowell’s last pass completion of its pre district game against East Grand Rapids was also its first of the night to junior Gabe Steed.
The Red Arrows’ leading receiver entered the game averaging 23.6 yards per catch. Steed did all of that and much more on a game-winning 73-yard pass- and-catch from Ryan Stevens with just over three minutes to play giving Lowell a dramatic 28-27 pre-district  win over OK White rival East Grand Rapids.
Moments earlier it looked as if the Pioneers would author another storied fantastic finish when Bryce Henkey raced into the Lowell end zone from 23 yards out to give the visiting Pioneers a 27-21 advantage, capping a go-ahead 74 yard drive.
East Grand Rapids got one more shot at knocking off the eighth ranked team in Division II with two-and-a-half minutes to play on the cold, damp Bob Perry Field in Lowell.
An incomplete pass, a quarterback sack (minus three yards) and a stellar defensive play by Lowell’s Austin Hoekstra on a third down screen left EGR with a fourth and 11 from its own 24.
EGR QB Mikey Roth hit hard as he released the ball. A pass interference flag was initially thrown against Lowell on the play, but then picked up, leaving Lowell with the ball and 1:34 to play on the clock.
The game had an inauspicious beginning for Lowell as the Pioneers to the opening kickoff and in two plays marched 80 yards fro the game’s first score. It was done in thanks to the legs of Henkey who had back-to-back runs of 31 and 49 yards.
Lowell then fumbled the ensuing kickoff giving East the ball back at the Red Arrow 27. Lowell’s defense, however, stood tall as it stopped the Pioneers on fourth and six from the Lowell six yard line.
The Red Arrows used the big stop to fuel a an 11 play 94-yard scoring drive with Max Dean busting into the end zone from the one yard line, giving Lowell a 7-6 lead.
The two teams traded second quarter touchdowns. Roth connected with Matthew Ellis on a 24-yard touchdown. This time EGr converted the point-after to take a 13-7 lead.
Lowell answered right fear halftime on an eight-yard run by Max Dean, giving the Red Arrows a 14-13 halftime lead.
The Red Arrows extended their lead to eight (21-13) late in the third quarter when Dean rushed rumbled in from the one. It was his third score of the night.
East Grand Rapids marched 80 yards in nine plays with Roth finding Michael Johnson on a six-yard touchdown pass. The two point conversion was incomplete leaving East trailing by two (21-19).

Stevens finished the night with 215 yards passing and 59 yards on the ground. Dean rushed for 79 yards.

The win was Lowell’s fifth consecutive triumph against against the Pioneers. Hoekstra and his senior classmates will finish their careers with out losing a varsity game to the Pioneers. The Red Arrows are now 10-11 against East Grand Rapids during the Noel Dean coaching tenure.
The Red Arrows (9-1) advance to host Grand Rapids Christian on Friday night. The Eagles (6-4) were 21-13 winners over St Johns.

Lowell rebounds from loss with 41-21 win over FH Central


After being uncharacteristically swallowed up at Caledonia a week ago, Lowell was charged with refocusing for nearby OK White rival Forest Hills Central.

A Ranger football team which defeated Caledonia 31-19 in week three.

“I was a little concerned with what the mind set of our young football team would be after that loss to Caledonia,” admitted Lowell football coach Noel Dean following his club’s 41-21 win over Forest Hills Central Friday night on Bob Perry Field.

What Dean’s Red Arrows did was reestablish the pillars of Lowell football during Dean’s tenure.

Lowell ran the ball well. It churned up 205 yards on the ground. It complimented its ground game with efficient passing, completing 10-of-14 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns. All of this while its defense, after surrendering two first-quarter touchdowns, silenced the pass-happy Rangers until mid way through the fourth quarter.

“Our running and passing games complimented one another and our defense was strong ,” Dean said.

The win in the final game of the regular season improved Lowell’s record to 8-1 overall and 4-1 in the OK White. The Red Arrows finished tied for first with Caledonia, marking the second consecutive year Lowell has earned at least a share of the league title. Last year Lowell won it outright.

“It felt to good win another conference title,” Dean explained. “This was a good step forward. Now it’s time to continue to build on that.

Lowell will begin its 16th consecutive journey into the high school state football playoffs on Friday. It’s opponent will be announced Sunday night at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports Detroit.

Red Arrow fans will notice a small variation to this year’s run for a state title. Lowell will compete in Division 3.

FHC drove 80 yards in eight play on its first possession to take a 7-0 lead. Brett Miller connected with Dylan Otolski on an 11-yard touchdown pass.

Lowell responded on the ensuing kickoff when Gabe Steed took the ball in on his own two-yard line and raced 98 yards for a touchdown. Lowell trailed 7-6 following a missed point after attempt.

The Rangers built on their first-series success as they marched 80-yards, this time in seven plays to extend their lead to 14-6. Miller found Matthew Mills this time for a 22-yard touchdown.

Lowell, again, had an answer. The Red Arrows engineered an 80-yard drive of their own with a 30-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Stevens to Josh Branagan evening up the score. The two also  combined for the two-point conversion.

Second quarter touchdown runs of five and two-yards by Max Dean enabled Lowell to build a 28-14 halftime lead. Dean finished the game with 109 yards rushing.

Neither club scored in the third quarter, however, Lowell did tally its fifth touchdown of the night early in the fourth quarter when Trevor Shurlow busted one in from the two-yard line.

Lowell added its final score on the night with a little less than two minutes on the clock when Stevens found Steed on a 12-yard pass-and-catch.

Central’s only second half score came in the final 12 minutes when Miller teamed up with Otolski for their second touchdown of the night.

FHC threw for 279 yards and rushed for just 25. The Rangers finished the season at 2-7 overall and 2-3 in the OK White.

Caledonia methodically devours Lowell, 33-0

Many chuckled when Lowell coach Noel Dean proclaimed earlier in the week that his Red Arrow football team had no chance for victory against Caledonia.

Those chuckles were replaced by dropped jaws Friday night as they watched the Fighting Scots methodically devour Lowell 33-0 at Ralph Myers Memorial Stadium.

“Caledonia is awesome. They are well coached and a really good football team,” Dean explained afterwards. “I have nothing but respect for their players and coaching staff.”

A couple of things were very clear following Caledonia’s victory. One, the Fighting Scots are peaking at the right time (heading into the playoffs) and two, senior running back Eddie Kelly is an elite football player.

“When Eddie decides he wants to play, he is as good a football player as there is in West Michigan,” said Caledonia coach Tom Burrill.

The coach’s lofty praise may still have shorted Kelly following his performance against Lowell. The senior rushed for 175 yards, caught three passes for 142 yards and scored two touchdowns.

The win vaulted Caledonia  (3-1, 6-2) into a tie with Lowell (3-1, 7-1) atop the O-K White. The Fighting Scots finish the regular season at Grand Rapids Christian on Friday. The Eagles (2-2, 5-3) were grounded by East Grand Rapids (2-2, 5-3) 31-7 Friday night.

Lowell will travel to Forest Hills Central (2-2, 2-6).

Caledonia scored on its first possession. Starting from its own six yard line, the Fighting Scots marched 94 yards in seven running plays with Logan Soule capping the drive with a one-yard touchdown burst.

Caledonia made it 14-0 at the start of the second quarter when Tanner Christian connected with Kelly on an 83-yard touchdown pass.

The Scots added their third touchdown of the half when Christian snuck one in from one yard out  giving Caledonia a 20-0 advantage.

Lowell’s defense which was never able to stop the Caledonia veer generated ground game in the first half, kept the Scots off the scoreboard on their first three possessions of the second half.

“I was happy with the way out kids came out in the second half and played,” Dean said,

Meanwhile, the Red Arrows while able to move the ball some on the ground, never found a rhythm to their passing game and thus were never able to finish any of their drives.

Caledonia’s two second half touchdowns came in the fourth quarter on a 30-yard touchdown reception by Kelly and a five yard touchdown run by Jalen Burton.

“It feels real good to get a win against Lowell. Our seniors have taken this team on their backs. It’s a special group of players,” Burrill said.

Lowell secures playoff berth with 20-12 win over GR Christian

Qualifying for the MHSAA football playoffs doesn’t get old. Lowell, with its 20-12 win over Division 3 power and OK White Conference foe Grand Rapids Christian, secured its spot in the post season for a 16th straight season.

“Some schools may take it for granted, but making the playoffs is  still special,” said Lowell football coach Noel Dean.

The Red Arrows got  two defensive scores from its tenacious defense and still needed a stop in the final  three  minutes of play to secure its sixth win of the year and its second league victory.

“It’s nice to have East Grand Rapids and Grand Rapids Christian in our rear view mirror,” Dean noted.”However, we still have some big games ahead of us.”

Lowell travels to Jenison on Friday before ending the season with road games against Forest Hills Central and Caledonia.

The Fighting Scots are 4-2, 1-1 after a 44-6 win against Jenison. FHC is 1-5, 1-1 following a 10-0 loss to EGR Friday night.

The Red Arrows scored first at Bob Perry Field when Ryan Stephens found a wide-open Josh Branagan on a 23-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter.

Lowell extended its lead to 14-0 later in the quarter when junior Gabe Steed intercepted a Christian pass and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown.

The Eagles answered right before half on a 19-yard scoring strike from Lucas Thompson to Alex Bos. The extra point was missed, sending to the two clubs into half with Lowell leading 14-6.

The Eagles pulled to within two at 14-12 on a 24-yard pass in third quarter from Thompson to Bos. The two-point conversion failed.

It remained a two-point game until Lowell sacked Thompson in the Eagle end zone, forcing a fumble with Red Arrow Austin Hoekstra falling on it for a touchdown. The extra point was missed, giving Lowell a 20-12 lead.

“The touchdown sort of hurt hurt us. it gave Christian one final chance,” Dean explained. “Our defense, though, scored 13 points. I’m proud of its effort.”

As was Red Arrow middle linebacker Max Dean. “Our defense came up big. It played tough.” Dean was not only pivotal in helping Lowell carry out its defensive scheme, but also led Lowell in rushing.

“It’s not a time for tired, this was a big game and a big win as it qualified us for the playoffs.”

The game was marred by an injury to Eagle starting quarterback Patrick Hall. “My heart sunk for Hall,” Dean said.

Thrower leads Muskegon past Lowell, 28-21, in district championship game

Prior to Friday night’s district championship football game Muskegon football coach Shane Fairfield called it the state championship game before the state championship game.

This would explain why he labeled the Big Reds 28-21district championship  victory over Lowell on Bob Perry Field one of the best wins of his career.

The last time Fairfield made such a sweeping comment was one year ago following Muskegon’s 15-13 district championship win over the Red Arrows.

“To come in here to Lowell and to redeem a loss to a club who beat us earlier in the season – I’m so proud of this group of guys,” Fairfield said. “They made a commitment to film, film study and game cards. They knew to win here tonight they would have to play well and they wanted the  challenge”

The two teams have now met six straight years in the district final. The winner has advanced to the state championship game in each of those years. The Big Reds are now two wins away from a return to Ford Field. However, first Muskegon must take care of business against Midland on Saturday.

Lowell quarterback Kyler Shurlow who threw for over 1900 yards and ran for over 900 during the regular season was held to a minus one yard rushing and 279 yards through the air on 40 attempts.

“Our offense really put our defense in a jam. We weren’t able to get anything going consistently,” Lowell football coach Noel Dean said. “Muskegon played a whale of a game. They were pretty good.”

The two defenses held their ground through the first 12 minutes of play before Muskegon broke through early in the second quarter on a 62-yard touchdown pass from Deshaun Thrower to Justin Foster.

A Lowell turnover moments later set the Big Reds up at the Red Arrow 34 yard line. On the first play, Thrower followed his blocks around the right side and raced 34 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 Muskegon lead.

The Big Reds returned the favor when it turned the ball over at midfield with a little under 10 minutes to play n the second quarter. Lowell made Muskegon pay as it took seven plays with Shurlow finding Jeff Houston in the end zone on a fourth down and six, cutting the deficit to 14-7.

It remained 14-7 until midway through the third quarter when Thrower connected with William Roberrson on a 44-yard touchdown pass up the Big Reds sideline.

Thrower threw for 159 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 107.

Lowell trimmed the deficit back to seven (21-14) early in the fourth quarter when Shurlow found Ben Bigham on an 18-yard corner route in the end zone.

Muskegon, though, wasn’t to be denied, as it responded with a five-play, 37 yard touchdown drive capped off with a one-yard burst from Javauntae Thomas.

Lowell looked as though it would answer as it had a first and 10 art the Big Reds 26 on its very next possession, however, an interception stalled the drive at the Muskegon 21.

On Lowell’s next possession, still trailing by two scores, the Red Arrows drove to the Muskegon 11 before a turnover ended that scoring threat.

“Four turnovers are not going to help you get over a team that good,” Dean said. “Muskegon played well and deserved to win. They showed up to play. Muskegon is well coached  and did a nice job.”

Lowell’s final score of the night came in the final seconds of play on a 19-yard  pass from Shurlow to Houston.

For Dean it means saying goodbye to a senior class that he first started to watch as tots. It is also one that includes his oldest son Kanon.

“What can I say to this group except thanks. There were a lot of good things that happened and we had a lot of fun.,” Dean explained. “It was a great year. I wish things could have turned out better, but it is what it is.”

Lowell overcomes Sailors’ fast start in 34-24 pre district win

A combined record of 31-5 made this Division 2 region arguably the toughest region in the state.

The results in week one of the playoffs, however, were not as difficult  to predict. Pick the two schools who have done it before. Pick two schools whose programs have shared much success over a sustained period of time. Pick the two schools who had already met in the district or regional finals for five straight years.

For the sixth straight year Lowell (10-0) and Muskegon (9-1) will strap it up against one another in the post season following the Big Reds 49-14 pre district win over Muskegon Reeths-Puffer (7-3) and Lowell’s 34-34 win over Muskegon Mona Shores (7-3).

For there Red arrows it marked their 15th straight playoff appearance.

Conversely, Mona Shores was appearing in its first high school football playoff game in school history, however, to start the game the Sailors played more like a club that’s been there before. The Sailors shocked the second ranked Division 2 Red Arrows by scoring two touchdowns in the opening  seven minutes to take a 12-0 lead.

“I’m proud of our kids. They played an unbelievable football team. Lowell is good year in and year out. “I’d like to think our kids gave them everything they could handle. We just made too many mistakes,” said Mona shores coach Matt Koziak.

Mona Shores first score came in its opening drive on a 12-yard run by Hunter Broersma.

After holding Lowell to three plays and a punt on its opening possession, Mona Shores was back at it as Deontay Moffett raced 38 yards for a touchdown, giving the Sailors a 12-0 lead. Mona Shores missed both of its extra points.

The 9-0 Red Arrows showed their playoff mettle as it marched 65 yards in eight plays on a 13-yard touchdown run by Trevor Shurlow.

Lowell grabbed its first lead of the game early in the second quarter when Kyle Shurlow found Gabe Snead on a 44-yard touchdown pass, giving Lowell a 13-12 advantage.

The Sailors would regain the lead minutes later when Tyree Jackson hit Marquon Sargent on a 60-yard scoring play, giving Mona Shores an 18-13 lead.

The Red Arrows answered right before the half when it was Shurlow to Snead again on a 29-yard touchdown pass giving Lowell a 20-18 halftime lead.

Lowell took the opening kick of the second half and marched 69 yards with Snead striking for a third time, this time on a 35-yard touchdown pass. The score extended Lowell’s advantage to nine at 27-18.

“He s a fun little guy to coach. Gabe is a slippery, elusive fellow,” said Lowell coach Noel Dean said. “He brings a different element to our receiving corps.”

Two plays after stopping Lowell on fourth and goal from the three, the Sailors struck on a 96-yard touchdown pass to the Western Michigan-bound Brown, pulling Mona Shores to within three at 27-24. The extra point was missed.

The offensive explosion continued as Lowell answered on its next possession with a 20-yard touchdown run by Kanon Dean. Lowell led 34-24.

“Mona Shores is a fantastic team. Hats off to Matt Koziak. He’s done at Mona Shores what no one has ever been able to do,” Dean conlcuded.