MMA Helps 3-Sporter Shine at BCC

May 3, 2019

By Doug Donnelly
Special for Second Half

BROOKLYN – When Khol Partridge gets some time away from the football field, basketball court and baseball diamond, he knows exactly where he’s going – to relax with some Mixed Martial Arts.

Partridge is winding down his days as a three-sport athlete at Brooklyn Columbia Central, a Class B school in southeast Michigan’s Irish Hills area. His father Rodney owns Pure Combat, a gym in Cement City that challenges Khol as an athlete, both mentally and physically, in a different way than high school sports do. But, combined, Khol said, it’s made him a stronger athlete and more of a leader.

“In the summertime, I’m in the gym every day,” Partridge said. “It makes you such a better athlete. It improves your attitude, your mindset, your balance, everything about being an athlete.”

Partridge mainly does the Jiu Jitsu form of MMA, not the type that puts him into a ring with another striker, or fighter. But, it’s still intense.

“My dad puts me through all kinds of crazy workouts,” he said. “You get yourself into tough spots in MMA and it makes you have to find a way out of it. That’s one way it helps you in other sports.”

Partridge has been in more than a few tight spots for the Golden Eagles over the last few seasons but has usually found a way to success. The CC football team has gone 23-9 over the last three seasons, making three consecutive playoff appearances. He led the Lenawee County Athletic Association this past season by completing 154-of-257 passes for 2,317 yards and 26 touchdowns. He threw just four interceptions all season. He also ran for 511 yards and nine touchdowns.

CC football coach Josh Kubiak called Partridge an “amazing athlete” and “amazing individual.”

“I could go on about Khol for a long time and tell you about all his stats and achievements,” Kubiak wrote in an e-mail. “In my opinion the best quality Khol has is his leadership skills. I remember back to when he was a freshman on our playoff team. He was the last player on the field after our loss hugging seniors and then came up to me and said, ‘We will be back.’”

The Golden Eagles won their first league football title since 1982 with Partridge at quarterback this past season. He finished with 4,800 career passing yards and a number of CC football records.

“He has the special talent to get other student athletes to follow him, and he gets the best out of them,” Kubiak said. “He always finds the positive out of the worst situations.”

It’s no surprise that Partridge chose the quarterback position – or, rather, it chose him.

“I was a quarterback since I was really little. I don’t know, maybe it was just because I wanted to be a leader. I’ve always had that mindset. I wanted to be the smartest player on the field, to know what everyone else was doing. My dad always taught me to be a leader, to be the best leader I could be.

“My biggest goal has always been just to be a leader. Leadership is a full-time job. You just have to step up at important times, to be an inspiration to others in the huddle or know when to get after someone and when to just give them a high-five and say, ‘It’s all right. Keep your head up.’”

Partridge got a few looks from colleges and was close to trying to walk on at a Division I school out west. Ultimately, he decided to stay a little closer to home and committed to Ohio’s University of Findlay, a perennial football powerhouse in Division II.

“I got a lot of looks, but nothing seemed to pan out. Then, the Findlay coach hit me up on Twitter,” Partridge said. “They contacted me, so saw tape and I went to visit. They have a great campus. I even did some research, and I know there is a Mixed Martial Arts gym not far from campus.”

In basketball, Partridge was the team’s top scorer in 2018-19, made 48 3-pointers and finished his career with more than 750 points over parts of four seasons. In baseball, he’s one of the team leaders in hitting and is enjoying another season of success.

“I fell in love with football early on in life,” he said. “I always played baseball, too. Me and my buddy, Chase Tompkins, we’ve always played baseball together. I didn’t start playing basketball until later, probably seventh grade.

“If it’s football season, then football is my favorite sport. If it’s baseball season, then baseball is my favorite sport.”

In baseball, Partridge is a middle infielder. When Tompkins pitches, Partridge plays shortstop; otherwise he plays second base.

“We are a really good double-play combination,” he said. “I think last year we turned like 20 double plays together. It’s crazy. We’ve played together a long time. We’ve kind of always been that duo.”

This season, Partridge’s goal is to hit .500.

“The season is going great,” he said. “I’m hitting fairly well, not as well as I want to be hitting, but I’m working hard. Baseball is so mental. You have to be mentally right to play the game.”

Partridge is quick to credit his parents, Rodney and Terri, for his success.

“My dad has been the biggest influence in my life,” he said. “He’s always been someone to look up to. And my mom is the best ever. She keeps my head in line. I’m so blessed to have two parents I can look up to.”

Khol Partridge is excited for the next chapter in life, although he still has some work to do this spring with the CC baseball team. He’s entertaining the idea of trying to walk-on with the Findlay baseball team.

“I definitely think I can,” he said. “Sports are a big part of my life. They always have been. Sports teaches you so much about different aspects in life.”

Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Columbia Central’s Khol Partridge unleashes a pass this past fall. (Middle) Partridge, far right, with father Rodney (far left) and renowned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu competitor Marcelo Garcia. (Photos courtesy of the Partridge family.) 

Mendon 8-Player Championship Game Run Paced by Record-Setting Rushing

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

May 26, 2023

Mendon’s run to the Division 2 Final last fall included some of the strongest rushing performances over the history of 8-player football.

The Hornets ran for 4,317 yards, second-most all-time, on the second-most attempts (520) and with a record-setting 682 yards Oct. 14 against Marcellus. Mendon also set the record for total offense with 692 total in that game, and made the single-season touchdowns list with 76 including 66 rushing (also second on that list).

Junior Jack McCaw made the single-season scoring list with 212 points, most coming on 29 touchdowns, and Evan Lukeman made the single-game rushing list with 401 yards against Marcellus. Mendon’s defense also earned praise, twice making the fewest-first-downs-allowed list with a low of three.

See below for more recent additions to the 8-player portion of the football record book:

8-Player Football

Athens’ Landon Bennett earned a pair of record book entries after reaching the end zone seven times during his team’s 72-0 win over Burr Oak on Sept. 8. His seven scores are tied for third-most in 8-player history and included three rushing, three on punt returns and one on an interception return. The three punt return touchdowns are a record. Bennett is a junior.

On the night Powers North Central broke its 8-player record for consecutive wins, claiming its 28th straight, senior Luke Gorzinski tied Jets great Jason Whitens for the record for interception touchdowns in a game with two, scoring on returns during the second and fourth quarters. Gorzinski has signed with Michigan Tech, and North Central’s winning streak is 37 games and counting.

A pair of Atlanta offensive playmakers and a top defensive lineman earned a total of seven entries in the record book for achievements last fall. Senior quarterback Tyler Currie threw for 30 touchdowns over eight games, and also made the records for six touchdowns and 419 passing yards against Whittemore-Prescott on Sept. 23; the passing yards are second-most for one 8-player game. Sophomore Landon Galea was added for 263 yards and five of those touchdowns against the Cardinals, and also for 1,418 yards receiving and 23 touchdowns over nine games. Junior teammate Tucker Kendrick made the tackles for loss list with five against Hillman on Oct. 6.

Adrian Lenawee Christian senior Brady McKelvey became the first to make the career extra points list in 8-player football this past fall. He bettered his previous single-season record making 64 of 66 extra-point attempts over 11 games and finishing his two-year varsity career with 123 extra points in 127 tries.

Sam McKissack reached the record book showcasing multiple skills for Crystal Falls Forest Park during the 2021 season – twice for rushing attempts in a game including with a record 59 against Ontonagon that Sept. 10, and then with a record 70-yard punt Oct. 30, 2021, against Lake Linden-Hubbell. Teammate Devon Basirico also made the record book with six fumble recoveries over 11 games that season. As a team, Forest Park was added twice for single-game rushing attempts – including 73 total in that Ontonagon game – and for 424 rushes over 11 games for the season. McKissack and Basirico are seniors this spring.

Nikolaus Lewis tied for eighth-most rushing touchdowns in an 8-player game when he reached the end zone six times for Carsonville-Port Sanilac in its win over Caseville on Oct. 7. He’s a senior this spring.

Bridgman has won 24 straight games over the last three seasons, and an exceptional offense – and exceptional offensive star – have played major roles. The Bees were added for 658 total yards in a win over Lawrence last season, that total ranking third all-time, and also 613 yards in a win over Eau Claire. Those included totals of 575 and 547 rushing yards, respectively, and Bridgman was added for 3,598 rushing yards (sixth on the list), 59 rushing touchdowns (fourth) and 76 total touchdowns (seventh). Senior Reid Haskins capped his four-year, 32-game varsity career with 13 record book entries, including for 254 points last season over nine games (tied for fifth all-time) and a record 620 career points, 41 touchdowns last season (fifth) and a record 95 for his career, 2,344 rushing yards last season (third) and a record 5,206 for his career, and 41 rushing touchdowns last season (third) and a record 94 for his career. Senior teammate Tanner Peters made the records three times including for 50 extra points last season (fourth) and 99 over 26 games and three seasons (second on the career list).

Mio's Austin Fox rewrote the 8-player passing record book this past fall, with his 621 yards in a game against Whittemore-Prescott setting a single-game record as he totaled four of the five-highest passing yardage totals. He also set a record with 3,516 over nine games for the season, another record with 289 passing attempts over those nine games and a third record for nine touchdown passes in that game against the Cardinals. His 41 touchdown passes total rank fourth. Teammates Gage Long and Nathan Hurst also earned several record book entries on the receiving end of those passes. Long’s 297 receiving yards against Whittemore-Prescott were tied for third most, and Hurst’s 266 against Alcona rank eighth. Long set a single-season record with 1,739 receiving yards, with Hurst sixth all-time at 1,321, and Long’s 14 receptions against the Cardinals and 70 for the season also rank second on those respective lists. Hurst set a record for longest 8-player kickoff return with a 99-yarder against St. Helen Charlton Heston. All three are seniors.

Peck was one of the first MHSAA 8-player champions, claiming the title in 2013, and Cody Abrego one of the state’s first 8-player stars. The Pirates were added to the MHSAA record book 52 times, and Abrego 14 times individually. Among the most notable entries for the 2015 graduate were for 462 points scored over his two-season career (ranking sixth all-time), 74 career touchdowns (sixth), 2,202 rushing yards in 2013 (fifth) and 35 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (sixth). Current senior Caleb Lentner was one of the stars statewide this past season, and he was added eight times including for 50 points scored in a game (ranking second), 272 points for a season last fall (fifth), eight touchdowns in a game (tied for second), 42 touchdowns in a season (fifth), an 8-player record of 2,694 rushing yards from last season, and 38 rushing touchdowns also last fall (fourth). Others to make the individual lists were Nathan Robar, Caleb Dudley, Steven VanConant, Kyle Abrego and Nathan Neihaus, Dudley for a record 20 career interceptions over two seasons and VanConant for a record 12 tackles for loss in a 2022 game and 36 tackles for loss for the season last fall. The Pirates also are all over the 8-player team record book, including for a record 97 touchdowns in 2013, a record 5,895 yards of total offense that season, 528 carries, 4,346 rushing yards and 73 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (all ranking second); and 24 interceptions in 2014, which ranks second on that list.

Senior quarterback JR Hildebrand was one of the most dynamic players in 8-player football in the fall in leading Martin to the Division 1 title. He had one of his most exciting nights in a playoff opener against Tekonsha, making the single-game touchdown pass list with six in a 68-6 victory.

PHOTO Mendon’s Jack McCaw (21) eludes a tackle during the 8-Player Division 2 Final in November at Northern Michigan University. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)