GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Every year, 13 On Your Sidelines runs from week one of the high school football season in August to the regional championship week in November. We strive to bring you the very best high school football highlights in West Michigan.
It's about more than just football. We also capture the magic of gameday by making sure we honor the cheerleaders, band members and student sections rooting their teams to victory. To us, every game is a chance to celebrate the young people in our community.
But there are some games that stand out from the rest — ones that entire communities will be talking about for years to come.
This year, as the football season winds to a close and certain teams look to bring home state championships, we look back on some of our favorite 13 On Your Sidelines games from 2022.
#10 - Byron Center at East Grand Rapids
Byron Center and East Grand Rapids always bring amazing crowds to their games, so when they face each other, the atmosphere is always hype. In week six, the Bulldogs traveled to Gaslight Village for a matchup with the Pioneers. East Grand Rapids was down one late in the game. They marched down the field before Byron Center's Isaac Lee intercepted a pass at the goal line to give the Bulldogs a 20-19 win.
#9 - Zeeland West at Muskegon
The OK Green title race this year ended in a three-way tie between Zeeland West, Muskegon and Mona Shores. Our week five 13 On Your Sidelines Game of the Week had a lot to do with the way that conference title race shook out. The Dux trailed 36-32 with less than a minute left when Skyler Geurink ran it in from 26 yards out. That gave the Dux the win at Hackley Stadium, 38-36. It is worth noting that the Big Reds did get revenge in an equally exciting rematch during the playoffs.
#8 - Grand Rapids Catholic Central at South Christian
Catholic Central and South Christian were both undefeated coming into their week six showdown. It was a game that would decide the OK Gold, and the Cougars came into the night riding a 43-game winning streak dating back to August 2019. But the Sailors would break that streak in a back and fourth game. Jake DeHaan put the final nail in the coffin with a pick six. The Sailors won 36-34.
#7 - Brother Rice at East Kentwood
East Kentwood showed major signs of improvement this season, and one of the shining moments of 2022 for the Falcons as a week two win against a powerhouse from the east side of the state. EK hosted Brother Rice that night and they were down one point with four seconds left. Andrew Welch hit a 26-yard field goal to give the Falcons their first win of the year, 19-17.
#6 - Grand Rapids Union at Reeths-Puffer
The Red Hawks and Rockets were both coming off losing seasons, but both programs look like they're heading in the right direction. They earned a spot in our week four 13 On Your Sidelines Game of the Week and it ended in exciting, but controversial fashion. They went to overtime and Reeths-Puffer scored first with Tayte Vanderleest bringing in a touchdown reception. The Rockets were up 35-29 when a Najeh Thornton touchdown for Union was called off due to an illegal procedure penalty that coach Don Fellows voiced his displeasure about. The Rockets held the Red Hawks on fourth down to get the victory.
#5 - Spring Lake at Holland Christian
Spring Lake and Holland Christian finished the year in the bottom half of the OK Blue standings. But they gave us a game we won't soon forget. In week five, the Lakers led the Maroons 20-14 at half. The score would stay that way until there were two minutes left to go in the game. That's when Eli Boyce hit Ethan Abberger for a 45-yard touchdown pass to give Holland Christian the lead. Spring Lake had time for one last drive, but Luke Michmerhuizen intercepted a long pass to seal the win for the Maroons.
#4 - Central Montcalm at Kent City
Central Montcalm and Kent City have only faced off twice in school history. But after the game they gave us in week two, we're thinking maybe they should face each other more often. Late in the fourth, an Ari Baker touchdown catch gave Kent City the opportunity to tie the game. But they wanted more. Mason Westbrook successfully converted a two-point conversion to give the Eagles the lead. They would stop Central Montcalm on fourth down on the other end of the field and the student section rushed the field to celebrate a 28-27 Kent City win.
#3 - Cedar Springs at Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Cedar Springs started the year off slow, but you can blame that on one of the toughest schedules in the state through the first four weeks. Part of that tough schedule included a week three showdown with Grand Rapids Catholic Central. With 47 seconds left in the game, Ryan Mitchell scored a 10-yard touchdown to cut the Cougar lead to one point. The Red Hawks went for the win on the two-point conversion, but Catholic Central sacked Ryan West and won 21-20.
#2 - Whitehall at South Christian
It was regional finals week, the final night of 13 On Your Sidelines, when Whitehall traveled to South Christian. It was the only match-up in the state that night pitting two 11-0 teams against each other. The game was tied late in the fourth when quarterback Jake DeHaan drew Whitehall offsides not once, but twice on fourth down. That gave them a first down that helped them score the game-winning touchdown, a pass from DeHaan to Nate Brinks. The Sailors won their first regional title since 2014 by a score of 28-21.
#1 - Caledonia at Rockford
We thought the game of the year was going to be a week nine OK Red showdown between undefeated Rockford and undefeated Caledonia. Turns out, that game ended with a lopsided Rockford victory. But the Rams and Scots faced off two weeks later with a district championship on the line and this time Caledonia got their revenge. Trailing 13-6 in overtime, Brock Townsend scored a touchdown for the Scots. They decided to go for a two point conversion and three-star quarterback, Mason McKenzie would put it in to give Caledonia a 14-13 win. By the way, McKenzie was voted the 13 On Your Sidelines MVP of the Year.
The 13 On Your Sidelines crew appreciates everyone who tuned in this year and made this season special, including Rant Insurance Group which sponsored our show and VanDyk Mortgage which sponsored the MVP of the Week award. We can't wait to bring you West Michigan's best highlights in 2023.
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