Grand Rapids South Christian entered the playoffs 6-3, not on the radar other than showing some resolve to qualify, and for some young talent on the roster. But after the most prominent of those players, sophomore quarterback Jon Wassink, broke his collarbone in the semifinals, few gave the Sailors a chance in Friday night’s Division 4 state championship game with Detroit Country Day. Maybe a defense that delivered throughout the playoffs would at least keep the score respectable.
The defense did more than that, and who could have imagined that backup QB Derek Woltjer would fulfill his moment in cinematic fashion and South Christian would win 40-7.
Woltjer, a 5-11, 165 senior, moved over from flanker and ran for two TDs and threw for two more while not having one incomplete pass. He ran like, well, a running back, totaling 136 yards, including a 69-yard TD. Woltjer played both ways, and added a 28-yard interception return. South Christian consistently picked up yardage on first and second downs, keeping Woltjer out of scary third-and-longs. When he did throw it he hit, completing 7-of-7 passes for 88 yards, including a 41-yard TD to senior receiver Jason Miller.
Seth VanEngen was the defensive MVP of a unit that for the third time in the playoffs held the opponent to a max of one TD, this one a 54-yard catch-and-run by Country Day’s promising receiver prospect Maurice Ways. VanEngen’s a 6-5, 215 senior linebacker who made plays up and down scrimmage and led South Christian with seven tackles, including one behind the line. He also made crucial blocks both on offensive and special teams, and had a receiving first down.
South Christian’s three down linemen — 6-4, 230 junior Todd Postma, 6-3, 230 soph Mitchell Quakkelaar and 6-1, 275 soph nose guard Brendan Huyser — were too athletic for a very legit DCD offensive line. They opened the way for Sailors linebackers VanEngen, junior David Boomsma, senior Jordan Sundelius and senior Alex Haan — to hold DCD’s star back Richard Wilson to 53 yards on 11 carries. Quakkelaar twice brought the wood on Jackets QB Tyler Wiegers, one of them for a nine-yard sack loss. That was a common theme for Quakkelaar throughout the playoffs, which is why he’s one of the Lake’s top early prospects for 2015.
While South Christian rightfully celebrates its 2012 championship, there will be high expecations for coach Mark Tamminga‘s. They will five starters returning on defense in 2013, not to mention the best player who didn’t see the field Friday — Jon Wassink.