By DOUG DONNELLY
SOUTHFIELD – A couple of unlikely first half touchdowns spurred the West to a 48-14 victory Saturday in the 39th annual Michigan High School Football Coaches Association East-West All-Star Game.
It was a new venue for the game and good-sized crowd watched the West light up the scoreboard in the second quarter with 28 points. It was the first all-star game since 2019 as the game was canceled last year due to COVID-19.
“It was great to see the coaches and players have the opportunity to have an all-star game this year,” said MHSFCA Executive Director Scott Farley. “After everything that happen during Michigan’s high school football season, seeing an all-star game was a fitting way to draw the 2020-21 season to a close.”
The game’s first touchdown came on the opening drive as the West went 70 plays in nine plays. Drew Collins (Montague) connected with Blake Bosma (West Ottawa) on third-and-goal on a play in which the East defender tip the ball and Bosma grab as it as he was falling to the ground.
The second unlikely scoring play came as the first half drew to a close.
The West scored with 14 seconds to go in the half on a 4-yard run by Dorion Riley (Jackson). After kicking off to the East, the West got the ball right back on an interception with seven seconds left in the half by Nate Malinowski (East Grand Rapids).
West quarterback Carson Gulker (Zeeland West) dropped back to pass, was pressured, rolled to his left and, turning against his body, threw a 45-yard Hail Mary into the end zone and Kameron Karp (Marquette) somehow came down with the ball.
“I was just running down the field, running and bumping into players all over the place,” Karp said. “The quarterback (Gulker) made a great throw, and I just went up and pulled it in. I don’t know how I caught it.”
The touchdown pass gave the West, coached by Rob Zeitman (Jenison) a 34-7 lead at the break.
Collins and Gulker both had short touchdown runs for the West in the first half. Collins’ score was set up by a long run by Riley, who would go on to lead all rushers with 84 yards on 10 touches.
The West also scored first in the second half on a 28-yard run by Austin Bills (Traverse City Central). That touchdown, and Mitchell Middleton’s fifth extra point of the day, put the West up 41-7 with 5:49 left in the third quarter.
The East bounced back with an 8-play, 80-yard scoring drive, capped off by a 5-yard run by Maurice Davis (Detroit Eastpointe). The biggest play of that drive was a 40-yard pass from Noah Beaudrie (Erie Mason) to Zack Horky (Blissfield).
The West closed out the scoring with a short touchdown run by Malinowski.
There were several outstanding performances on both sides of the ball.
Jameson Chesser (Adrian Lenawee Christian) led the East with 60 yards rushing on just three carries. He scored the second touchdown of the game on a 55-yard run in which he got the handoff from Beaudrie, burst through the line of scrimmage and hit the outside where he outran everyone to the end zone. The 8-Man Player of the Year scored 40 touchdowns during the regular season in leading LCS to a state title in their first season of 8-Man. Chesser certainly showed he belonged in the all-star game with his touchdown run.
“The coaches made a great call and put me in perfect position for that play,” Chesser said.
Nolan Vanover (Monroe Jefferson) led the East in receiving yards with 50 and return yards with 55.
Bills rushed for 76 yards on just seven carries for the West while Tanner Williams added 49 yards on the ground (Grand Haven).