2016-11-24 / Sports

St. Ignace Saints Football Team Gives All, But Is Bested in Semifinals

By Erich T. Doerr


St. Ignace’s Mason Gustafson (#1) makes a run at Muskegon Catholic Central ball carrier Trenten Bordeaux (#10) during the schools’ state semifinal football game Saturday, November 19, in Petoskey. Mason had 12 tackles, but the Saints would lose the game 35-0. The other St. Ignace players pictured here on defense include (from left) Mitchell Peterson (#22), David VanHeuvelen (#67), Reid Marshall (#61), Alex France (#10), Preston Mayle (#87), with Peter Bartolameolli (#77) among those blocking for the Crusaders. (Photographs by Emily Fullerton) St. Ignace’s Mason Gustafson (#1) makes a run at Muskegon Catholic Central ball carrier Trenten Bordeaux (#10) during the schools’ state semifinal football game Saturday, November 19, in Petoskey. Mason had 12 tackles, but the Saints would lose the game 35-0. The other St. Ignace players pictured here on defense include (from left) Mitchell Peterson (#22), David VanHeuvelen (#67), Reid Marshall (#61), Alex France (#10), Preston Mayle (#87), with Peter Bartolameolli (#77) among those blocking for the Crusaders. (Photographs by Emily Fullerton) The St. Ignace Saints football team’s deep playoff run came to an end Saturday, November 19, as the three-time defending state champion Muskegon Catholic Central defeated them 35-0 in the state semifinal game. The game was played at Petoskey High School in wintery conditions.

The game was close in its opening minutes as the Saints (11-2) threw everything they had at the Crusaders (13-0). St. Ignace had the first possession of the game and drove 55 yards up the field before the Muskegon Catholic defense shut them down.


The St. Ignace Saints season came to an end Saturday, November 19, with a 35-0 loss to Muskegon Catholic Central in Petoskey. The game was played in wintery conditions as snow and wind increased as the game went on. Here the teams exchange handshakes after the game in near whiteout conditions after the final buzzer. The Saints players pictured here include (from left) Mitchell Peterson (#22), Carter Tallaire (#84), Tucker Shepard (#12), Reid Marshall (#61), Trevor Matson (#73), Jared Cece (#63), Kenney Rickley (#32), Drew Marshall (#52), Garrett Kellan (#36), David VanHeuvelen (#67), Jared Helms (#54), Preston Mayle (#87), and Luke Valletta (#76). The St. Ignace Saints season came to an end Saturday, November 19, with a 35-0 loss to Muskegon Catholic Central in Petoskey. The game was played in wintery conditions as snow and wind increased as the game went on. Here the teams exchange handshakes after the game in near whiteout conditions after the final buzzer. The Saints players pictured here include (from left) Mitchell Peterson (#22), Carter Tallaire (#84), Tucker Shepard (#12), Reid Marshall (#61), Trevor Matson (#73), Jared Cece (#63), Kenney Rickley (#32), Drew Marshall (#52), Garrett Kellan (#36), David VanHeuvelen (#67), Jared Helms (#54), Preston Mayle (#87), and Luke Valletta (#76). “We started the game exactly as I planned,” said St. Ignace coach Marty Spencer, who credited his players for their efforts throughout the game. “We drove our opening kickoff down to their 25 before they stopped us on fourth down.”


St. Ignace running back Garrett Kellan (#36) finds himself face to face with Muskegon Catholic Central’s Jackson Riegler (#9) during the state semifinal game in Petoskey Saturday, November 19. The Crusaders’ Jacob Martinez (#88) is also in pursuit. Garrett had 16 carries Saturday for 81 yards. St. Ignace running back Garrett Kellan (#36) finds himself face to face with Muskegon Catholic Central’s Jackson Riegler (#9) during the state semifinal game in Petoskey Saturday, November 19. The Crusaders’ Jacob Martinez (#88) is also in pursuit. Garrett had 16 carries Saturday for 81 yards. The Saints defense stifled the Crusaders’ first possession and both their offensive and defensive lines played well in the early part of the game. The game’s first quarter ended with the score tied at 0-0 and it remained that way until Muskegon Catholic’s Walker Christoffersen ran in a long 88-yard touchdown midway through the second quarter. A second Crusaders touchdown on a two-yard run by Logan Helton gave the Lower Peninusla team a 14-0 lead at the half. Another Muskegon Catholic touchdown on the first possession of the third quarter broke the game open, the team adding two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Christoffersen ran for two more touchdowns in the second half, with a third coming from teammate Dawson Steigman.


St. Ignace running back Mitchell Peterson has the ball and makes a run for it as his teammates, including Preston Mayle (#87), try to open up a path for him against Muskegon Catholic Central Saturday, November 19, during the state semifinal game in Petoskey. Mitchell had 15 carries for 38 yards during Saturday’s game. St. Ignace running back Mitchell Peterson has the ball and makes a run for it as his teammates, including Preston Mayle (#87), try to open up a path for him against Muskegon Catholic Central Saturday, November 19, during the state semifinal game in Petoskey. Mitchell had 15 carries for 38 yards during Saturday’s game. Muskegon Catholic has a larger and deeper roster than St. Ignace with many bigger players. The Crusaders’ lineup this year boasts 15 seniors and, as the game continued, their might wore down the Saints.

“Our first 18 minutes we played them as tough as we could,” Mr. Spencer said. “We just didn’t have the horses to keep it going.”

Mr. Spencer said the Crusaders were able to make more big plays than the Saints throughout the game. In total, the Saints offensive gained 131 yards on 40 carries and 30 yards off three receptions.

“You have to play a perfect game against a team like that and we just weren’t up to the task,” Mr. Spencer said.

The first winter storm of the season rolled through Michigan right as Saturday’s game was being played. The conditions in Petoskey for the game included blowing snow and 30-mile-per-hour gusts of wind that only got worse as the action continued. Both teams were affected by the weather, but continued to play hard.

Mr. Spencer emphasized that every season’s team at St. Ignace is a different one, and his last several years with the Saints featured some great squads. The Saints’ semifinal run this year was their fourth in the last six years. He was very pleased with how the 2016 season went as a whole.

“I thought my players were outstanding,” Mr. Spencer said. “They played well.”

With the conclusion of the 2016 season, Mr. Spencer and assistant coach Les Therrian will be retiring from their coaching roles with the St. Ignace football team after a successful tenure that began in 1997. While Mr. Therrian may continue to help in a lessened capacity, Mr. Spencer plans to step aside from the team. He will continue to be a fan of the Saints and looks forward to watching them from that perspective on Friday nights for the first time in a long time next season.

Mr. Spencer said he is thankful for all the support the community has given the team over the years. The Saints were 146-67 during Mr. Spencer and Mr. Therrian’s period coaching the team. The St. Ignace Area Schools is currently searching for a new head coach.

Muskegon Catholic was the only team to defeat St. Ignace this season, having dealt them a 21-6 loss during the second week of the regular season, the only time all season the Crusaders were held to less than 30 points. The Crusaders also defeated them in the state semifinals last year, the only other time the two teams had ever played before Saturday. Muskegon Catholic’s semifinal victory was their third shutout in a row during the playoffs.

Muskegon Catholic advanced to the Friday, November 25, state finals as it continues its bid for a fourth-consecutive championship. The Crusaders’ opponent will be the Whiteford Agricultural Bobcats of Ottawa Lake after they punched their ticket to the finals with a 40- 21 against Saginaw’s Michigan Lutheran Seminary Cardinals. The championship game will be played in downtown Detroit at Ford Field, the home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions.

Saints Offensive Statistics: Steve Seccia, three of eight passing for 30 yards, five carries for eight yards; Mitchell Peterson, 15 carries for 38 yards, one reception for five yards, one fumble recovery; Garrett Kellan, 16 carries for 81 yards; Kenney Rickley, four carries for four yards, one reception for 15 yards; Preston Mayle, one reception for 10 yards.

Saints Defensive Statistics: Mitchell Peterson, 15 tackles; Kody Rickley, 13 tackles; Mason Gustafson, 12 tackles; Drew Marshall, 10 tackles; Carter Tallaire, 10 tackles; David VanHeuvelen, 10 tackles; Alex France, nine tackles; Reid Marshall, six tackles; Jared Helms, five tackles; Micah Davis, four tackles; Kenney Rickley, four tackles; Trevor Soblaskey, four tackles; Garrett Kellan, two tackles; Preston Mayle, two tackles; Luke Valletta, two tackles.

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