Lansing Catholic’s special defense paves way for second state title in three years

DETROIT – Everyone wants to score points, but for Jim Baker’s side, it was defense that set the stage for a memorable playoff series.

The first-year head coach saw his Catholic defense of Lansing lead a streak of domination throughout the playoffs and put in an impressive effort in the Division 6 State title game, forcing five turnovers on the way to a 16-6 victory over Warren Michigan Collegiate on Friday at Ford Field.

“The defense just intensified in the playoffs,” Baker said after the game. “Our offense has clicked lately, but seeing the defense and the coaching staff together, it was special the last three or four weeks, so I’m really proud of the coaching staff, proud of the kids who have. really executed what they did. to do and I love playing physical football and I think that’s what we did.

Lansing Catholic has defended the program’s second state title for the past three years. The Cougars have allowed just 40 points in the playoffs and allowed more than 10 points just once – and just 13 in this game – in the state title race.

“Our defense is just something special,” said Max Knippen, senior Catholic from Lansing, who caught an interception to seal the Cougars victory. “It’s a real brotherhood. We really started to click as the playoffs went on.

“At the start of the season, we wanted to be a physical defense. We preached this during camp and I think we really stepped that up as we progressed through the playoffs. We were really physical with the race and everything.

Lansing Catholic football feast on five turnovers in D6 state title win over Warren Michigan Collegiate

Michigan Collegiate struggled to get anything on offense, in large part because of Lansing Catholic’s defensive strategy.

Lansing Catholic allowed just 40 total offensive yards in the first half and allowed just 85 rushing yards, which forced the Michigan Collegiate to pass and led to four interceptions, including a forced fumble.

“They did and few teams have done it this year,” Michigan Collegiate coach John Guth said of Lansing Catholic’s ability to stop the race.

Lansing Catholic’s offense didn’t move the ball particularly well on Friday either, but managed to make plays when needed and fell back on defense to close the deal.

Owen Biergans caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Joey Baker to give Lansing Catholic a 9-0 halftime lead.

Lansing Catholic senior quarterback Joey Baker pulls out of his pocket to pass during the first half of the MHSAA Division 6 State Soccer Championship game on Friday, November 26, 2021 at Ford Field in Detroit. (Jake May | may

The Cougars added a one-yard touchdown run from Joey Baker and their defense forced three turnovers – two interceptions and a fumble – in the fourth quarter to shut the door on Michigan Collegiate’s return effort.

In his first season as head coach of the Lansing Catholic program, Jim Baker succeeded longtime coach Jim Ahern and handed the state title to a program that went on to establish itself as one of the best programs in the state.

And he also did it with his son, Joey, under the center.

“It’s really special,” he said. “Credit Jim Ahern for bringing his system and credit these guys. These guys are all like my sons. I’ve been coaching them since kindergarten, they’re all my sons. (Joey) just happens to be the quarterback, but I love all of these guys to death and it’s special to be the head coach of these amazing men.

For Joey Baker, bringing home the state title as a senior was all he had hoped to grow up.

“It really is a dream come true,” he said. “I keep saying it, but that’s because I never thought in a million years that he would be head coach and I would be varsity quarterback and we would win the state championship. , but it happened like this and I love it and I wouldn’t change it for the world.


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