Recent Champions to Meet for D3 Title

By Tom Markowski
Special for Second Half

June 17, 2016

EAST LANSING – Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett has much to play for this season. As the favorite entering the Division 3 tournament, the Knights have had their eyes set on winning the school’s fourth title in six years.

On June 1, their focus became even sharper.

The father of University Liggett coach Dan Cimini died of cancer that day, leaving the team stunned and Cimini torn between the sorrow that was within him and his obligation to his team.

The pain remains for Cimini and his players, and the Knights are still on course to win that title.

Anthony George shook off a few first-inning jitters and threw a complete-game four-hitter to lead the Knights to a 9-0 victory over Scottville Mason County Central in a Division 3 Semifinal on Thursday at McLane Stadium on the campus of Michigan State University.

University Liggett (31-4) will play New Lothrop in the Final at 5 p.m. Saturday.

New Lothrop defeated Jackson Lumen Christi, 6-1, in the other Semifinal.

George, a sophomore right-hander, hit the first batter, walked the second and loaded the bases before Cimini took a trip to the mound.

“I told him to take a deep breath,” Cimini said. “He was amped up. Everyone was.”

George retired the next two batters, and no other runner reached third base over the final six innings. He allowed that one walk and retired the final eight batters in order.

“I tried to overthrow,” George said. “Coach said to take a step back. I was trying to do something I’m not accustomed to. With the defense behind me, you don’t have to strike everyone out.”

George said the team met after learning of Cimini’s father’s death and became more resolved.

“It was a team thing,” George said. “As a family we had to take it to heart. That meeting was a big part of us getting even better.”

The Knights scored four in the third inning highlighted by William Morrison’s three-run double. That inning lessoned the pressure on George.

Jackson Walkowiak had three of University Liggett’s eight hits and two of his team’s eight stolen bases.

The Knights scored single runs in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings, and they scored two in the fifth.

“I’m so proud of them,” Cimini said. “Everyone knows that your goal is to get to the final four. Everything was geared for us to get back to the final. We’ve been ranked No. 1 all year, and we love it. We want that. When that happens you know that you get (the opponents’) best.”

Mason County Central (28-9) used two pitchers, but they struggled with control and combined to allow five walks and hit three batters.

“That’s not what we normally do,” Central coach Don Thomas said. “We usually throw strikes.

“We have nothing to hang our heads about.”

Click for the full box score.

New Lothrop 6, Jackson Lumen Christi 1

Cam Pope leaned on the experience gained from pitching in a 2014 Semifinal to pitch a complete game victory in this year’s Semifinal on Friday.

Pope pitched 6 1/3 innings in 3-1 victory over Maple City Glen Lake two years ago to get the Hornets to the title game.

He allowed eight hits, three walks and struck out six against reigning champion Lumen Christi. Pope ran into trouble in only two innings, and Lumen Christi (25-14) ran itself out of a potential big inning in the third.

With one out, starting pitcher John Fleming doubled for Lumen Christi. He scored on Connor Mogle’s triple to tie the game at 1-1. The third hitter in the lineup, Zach Mehelich, batted next, and when a Pope pitch got away from catcher Zac Besant, Mogle tried to score. Besant threw to Pope, who put the tag on Mogle.

Mehelich singled but Pope got the last out.

“I was hoping to hit my spots,” Pope said. “It’s unbelievable. We knew we had a good team in 2014. We have a lot of young guys this year and didn’t know what to expect.”

New Lothrop (41-3) has just three seniors on this team: Pope, shortstop Steve Garza and centerfielder Quentin Taylor.

The Hornets scored two runs in the fourth inning and added three in the fifth to give Pope a sizeable cushion. Max Wendling had RBI singles in each of those innings.

“It was just a perfect game,” New Lothrop coach Benjamin Almasy said. “They made plays. Our shortstop always makes plays.

“We just kind of do our thing. We believe in the name that’s on the front of our jersey.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) University Liggett’s William Kopicki takes off for second base during Friday’s Division 3 Semifinal. (Middle) New Lothrop pitcher Cam Pope moves toward the plate during his team’s win over Jackson Lumen Christi.

Longtime Chelsea High School Administrator, Coach Bush to Join MHSAA Staff as Assistant Director

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

December 21, 2022

Brad Bush, a highly-respected educator, administrator and coach over the last three decades, has been selected to serve in the position of assistant director for the Michigan High School Athletic Association, beginning Jan. 17.

Brad BushBush, 52, taught and coached at East Kentwood High School for four years before beginning a tenure at Chelsea High School in 1997 that has included teaching, then serving as athletic director and later also assistant principal and leading the football program as varsity coach from 1997-2002 and again from 2004-18.

He also has served as a statewide delegate on the MHSAA Representative Council during the last year and provided leadership in multiple roles, including president, for the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) since 2005.

Bush will serve as the MHSAA’s lead administrator for baseball and also among lead administrators for the officials program, which includes more than 8,000 registered officials in all sports. Bush also will be assigned additional duties in other sports based on his vast experiences. He was selected from a pool of 34 applicants.

“I’m incredibly excited to have Brad join our team,” MHSAA Executive Director Mark Uyl said. "He’s been an outstanding athletic director and coach who is highly-respected by those who know him.”

As Chelsea athletic director, Bush annually has supervised a staff of 110 coaches across 31 programs, with nearly 70 percent of the high school’s 800 students participating in athletics. As a teacher and assistant principal, he has served on Chelsea’s School Improvement Team and on multiple committees that provided instructional leadership including in the development of the district’s new trimester schedule. In his roles with the MHSFCA, Bush helped direct an organization with more than 2,200 members and also served as the association’s treasurer and liaison to the MHSAA.

Bush is perhaps best known, however, for his coaching success. Over 22 seasons, he led Chelsea’s varsity football team to a 169-60 record, 13 league championships, 18 playoff appearances, seven District titles and a Division 3 runner-up finish in 2015. During his break in tenure as Chelsea coach, Bush served as an assistant football coach and recruiting coordinator for Eastern Michigan University during the 2003-04 school year, and he has served as an assistant coach at Albion College the last four seasons contributing to the team’s two league titles and appearance in the 2021 NCAA Division III Playoffs.

“I feel like joining the team at the MHSAA is an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Bush said. “The 26 years I spent at Chelsea were some of the best times of my life. It’s a professional transition that in the back of my mind, if this opportunity came, was something I needed to do.

“Over time, I’ve grown to care about the bigger picture of athletics and appreciate the role of the MHSAA in protecting high school athletics in Michigan.”

Bush is a 1988 graduate of Ypsilanti High School. He studied and played quarterback at Cornell University before returning and graduating from EMU after majoring in history and minoring in social studies. He earned his physical education endorsement from EMU in 2000 and his master’s in physical education and sports management from EMU in 2002. He has earned continuing education credits in sports management from Drake University and completed the Path to Leadership program from the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP). 

Bush was inducted into MHSFCA Hall of Fame and Ypsilanti High School Hall of Fame both in 2019. He and his wife Laura have three adult children, two daughters and a son.

PHOTO Chelsea coach Brad Bush directs his team during the 2015 Division 3 Final at Ford Field.