By Ron Pesch
Special for Second Half
What a sports year.
There certainly have been some amazing athletic feats over the 2018-19 high school season in Michigan, and it’s just two-thirds of the way complete.
This past fall, Kobe Clark of Schoolcraft scored nine touchdowns in a single game. Stunning!
The winter sports season saw Dylan Jergens of Marcellus Howardsville Christian top the MHSAA single season scoring record in boys basketball, finishing with 971 points. Incredible!
Then a freshman, Emoni Bates, hits for 31 points in an MHSAA Semifinal for Ypsilanti Lincoln. Wow!
So, how does that compare to years past?
First, let’s hit the pool!
Across the world, as well as in Michigan, record performances seem to fall regularly in swimming. I’m certainly no expert on the sport, but research seems to indicate that optimization of stroke count, kicks and other body positioning (and not a change in the density of H2O) impact the lowering of recorded times in the water. The continued synchronization and optimization of movement may mean we’ll see regular improvement for years to come.
It’s telling that MHSAA all class/division records in eight of the 12 events that make up a girls meet have been set this decade. The remaining four marks date to 2002 or 2007, and are held by Kara Lynn Joyce of Ann Arbor Pioneer or Allison Schmitt of Canton. Joyce, of course, went on to post 18 NCAA championships and four silver medals won during three Olympic competitions. A freestyle specialist, Schmitt won eight Olympic medals across the 2008, 2012 and 2016 games.
This past fall, the triumphs of three athletes, in particular, stand out. Kathryn Ackerman set a new state mark in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:57:25. A junior, Ackerman’s time should place nationally in the top 15 all-time. With the 2018 season complete, she now holds the top four times in the event according to the MHSAA record book.
Senior Ashley Turak sprinted to a new Division I record of 22.10 in the 50 freestyle for Harrison/Farmington on the first leg of the 200 freestyle relay, as well as a time of 22.20 in the 50 freestyle. Both those times also rank in the national record books within the top 15. The MHSAA All-Class/Division Final Meet mark still belongs to Joyce, who posted a time of 22.04, set while leading off the 200 freestyle relay team in the Class A 2002 preliminaries.
Turak again mesmerized the crowd, this time in the 100-yard freestyle, posting a time of 48.72 seconds to win the event. Again, Joyce holds the Michigan All-Class/Division mark with a then-national record time of 48:59 set in 2002.
This November, Grand Ledge junior Lola Mull fell less than a half-second short of her own state mark in the 500-yard freestyle, set in the 2017 preliminaries. Mull owns the state’s top three times in the event, while Schmitt ranks fourth on the list.
A winter sport in Michigan, boys swimming is no different, with records in 10 of the 12 events set in the 2010s. Cam Peel of Spring Lake became the first in state history to break 20 seconds in the 50-yard freestyle, accomplishing the milestone twice this March, first in the prelim race with a record time of 19.86 and again in the finals at 19.91. The marks surpassed the previous best, set by Henry Schutte of Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central one year ago, and also rank among the “Best of the Best” in the National Federation record book.
Clark’s nine touchdowns came in Schoolcraft’s 63-27 victory over previously undefeated Constantine in a Southwestern Athletic Conference contest. Thanks to steady rain in the first half, Schoolcraft stuck to the ground game, opening a 21-0 first quarter lead on three Clark touchdowns, one of eight yards, the second of 24, and the third of 10 yards. Constantine battled back to within eight points, 21-13 late in the second quarter, but Clark would score for Schoolcraft twice more during the final three minutes before halftime.
Following a 24-yard scamper, a partially blocked punt would set up Clark’s fifth rushing TD from two yards out with under a minute remaining before the break. (This appears to be a great moment to note that five players have scored five touchdowns in a single quarter). Clark added two TDs in the third quarter and two in the fourth.
Amazingly, Clark’s nine touchdowns and 54 points scored are not state records. In fact, two others have matched the touchdown and point count, while three others have exceeded the accomplishment in each category. Of course, each of those events occurred at least 90 years ago, decades before the introduction of the mercy rule in high school football.
For many years, Herb Dunphy was listed as the state’s record holder for a pair of seemingly untouchable records: touchdowns in a single game and points scored in a game. In 1917 he scored 10 TDs for Lansing Central and stood alone at the top.
But as time has proven again and again, the work of historians and researchers can alter what we believe. In 1986, research by Tom Pellow of Gwinn uncovered that Marmaduke “Duke” Christie of Escanaba had also scored 10 touchdowns, matching Dunphy’s output. In addition, Christie added six point-after-touchdowns that day, totaling 66 points, as Escanaba defeated Ishpeming 102-0 in November 1920.
“In my humble opinion, Escanaba high school in 1920 had one of the greatest football teams that ever misunderstood a signal in any language,” wrote Cy DeLynes, recalling the exploits of Christie and his teammates in the Escanaba Daily Press in 1929. “Christie was its captain. The Duke had a pair of collapsible ankles and he was able to play in only a part of four games. That, however, was just enough time to permit him to score 21 touchdowns and 38 out of a possible 50 points after touchdown – a total of 164 points. He led a backfield that made Knute Rockne’s Four Horsemen look like a quartet of super-annuated milk wagon drivers turning off the alarm clocks at 4 o’clock in the morning.”
A few years later, additional study of yearbooks and newspapers revealed the exploits of Cecil Hardy of Flint Central, again reshaping the scoring entries in the MHSAA record book.
In the 1914 season opener – a 106-0 blasting of Lapeer – Hardy carried for more than 300 yards. Within the first two minutes of play, the captain of the Flint squad had scored the first of 11 touchdowns – a “new” state mark.
“His end running was the feature of the game, his longest run being one for 50 yards and a touchdown on the first play after the kickoff. Time after time as he was making his long runs he appeared to be tackled and would wriggle out of the grasp of his opponent and run 15 or 20 yards further,” was the report of the day.
“How Is This For Football?”
Muskegon 216, Hastings 0
The Boston Globe paired the question with the football score from a Michigan high school game to readers in their Sunday edition back on September 29, 1912.
“Most of Muskegon’s touchdowns were scored on the kick-off,” stated the Globe, “and few required more than one down.”
The score was believed to be a “world’s record” for points scored in a game, at the time. Indeed, the total ranks as the tops in Michigan. Indeed, it was a record nationally, but would be surpassed on three occasions in the coming years, first in 1923, again in 1924 and finally in 1927. With today’s employment of the running clock, the scoring totals will never again be approached.
The score was 40-0 at the end of the first quarter, 102-0 following the second, and 150-0 after three quarters. Touchdowns were scored by nine different players, with six scoring multiple times. As byproducts, captain Fred Jacks finished with nine touchdowns, while Muskegon’s Nelson Stuit booted 24 of 30 extra points in the contest (another state mark that also will never be equaled).
“Although world’s records fell in the game it is not anything to be particularly proud of …” stated the Muskegon Chronicle in the prose of the time. “The visitors had about three men that knew a football from an eff, and those three could not make the Muskegon second team.”
One of the best, as it turned out, was Fred Rehor, Hastings’ “big 220 pound fullback” who would later play for Michigan, then professional ball in Ohio for the 1917 Massillon Tigers, coached by Knute Rockne.
As a result of the Muskegon-Hastings game, “at least three of the football elevens which contracted this year to meet Muskegon high school have begun to make excuses in line with those usually offered before a team quits such an engagement,” wrote the Lansing State Journal. Muskegon rolled up 499 points on the year, but ended a flawless season in defeat, 13-12 against rival Grand Rapids Central in the finale. The loss was blamed on overconfidence.
The aptly named Francis Tallent of Menominee, became the next player to score nine TDs in a game.
Tallent’s skills on the gridiron had been spotted in 1928.
“Standing out like a missing tooth in a front row of the chorus … (Tallent) revealed as speedy a pair of heels as one could ever hope to cast his optics on in a high school game,” wrote one reporter after witnessing the left halfback’s performance in the annual twin cities battle between Menominee and Marinette, Wis., then played on Armistice day. Tallent scored twice in that “M & M” game, a 26-0 win by Menominee.
After thumping Green Bay in its 1929 season opener and a “helpless” Oshkosh Normal (now known as the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh) freshmen team, 46-6, Menominee squared off for its game against “a light and green squad” from Kingsford.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tallent scored nine touchdowns that day on runs of 46, 72, 90, 64, 50, 37, 90, 85 and 63 yards. In total, the paper noted that Tallent gained 597 yards rushing in the 150-0 thrashing of Kingsford. Other sources noted that it was likely more, as the sum of only the TD runs equaled the 597 yard total. Kingsford would finish its seven-game season without scoring a point. According to the Kingsfordian, the school’s high school annual, the Kingsford players “were no match for the heavier and more experienced teams on the range” that school year.
Menominee’s success and Tallent’s football exploits prompted the Journal-Sentinel to send a reporter to the U.P. to cover the 1929 M & M game between the border schools later that fall. “Mr. Tallent, who runs like the well-known hare and who slips out of tacklers’ arms and hands like a piece of wet soap, scored four touchdowns in the course of the afternoon,” wrote the staffer. “All told, this Mr. Tallent rolled up 284 yards,” as the “pride of the peninsula walloped Marinette,” 49-0, before a crowd of 10,000. The score was “the highest ever piled up in 45 years of bitter rivalry between the two cities.”
Menominee ended the 1929 season undefeated and untied in eight games, scoring over a point-a-minute while claiming the Upper Peninsula championship and demanding statewide consideration for Michigan’s mythical crown. Tallent finished the season with 27 touchdowns.
After 35 years, one began to wonder if Mark Brown’s single-season scoring mark, set in 1984-85 during his days at Hastings, would ever be surpassed. Brad Redford, named Michigan’s Mr. Basketball, came close as a senior in 2007-08, falling 17 points shy of exceeding Brown’s total of 969. Prior to that, only Drew Neitzel of Wyoming Park had come within reasonable striking distance, but that happened a decade and a half ago.
This year, Jergens of Howardsville Christian finally topped the total, finishing with 971 points. Jergens accomplished the task in 24 games, two games fewer than Brown, but with the advantage of the 3-point shot. The three was implemented after Brown had headed to college. According to press reports, Jergens had four games of at least 50 points during the season.
Still standing, 40 years later, is Jay Smith’s high school career scoring mark of 2,841 points, set at Mio between 1976 and 1979. Jergens finished third on the list with 2,782 career points, including 320 career 3-pointers – second most in state history. Brown ranks second with 2,789 points scored between 1982 and 1985.
Few followers of prep basketball in Michigan could avoid coming across the name Emoni Bates, especially after the freshman phenom from Ypsilanti Lincoln knocked down 17 points in the Quarterfinals, 31 points in the Semifinal round of the Division 1 tournament, then 23 in the championship game. The immediate question on press row was, “Had another ninth grader ever exceeded his totals in a MHSAA final-rounds contests?” There was nothing to exceed it that I could recall.
While we’ve kept final round records, including single-game scoring marks, the website minimum is 40 points, and we’ve never captured a list that’s broken down by year in school.
So, I decided to dig.
The state has certainly seen some talented freshmen pass through the last rounds of the tournament. Monte Morris scored 20 points in the Quarterfinals for Flint Beecher during its Class C run in 2010. Saginaw Buena Vista played two freshmen, Mark Macon and Shawn Randolph, along its route to the Finals in 1984. Macon, at the age of 14, scored 22 points in a Quarterfinal win over Menominee that season. Two players scored 24 points in the quarters as freshmen: Flint Beecher’s Roy Marble, Jr. in 1982 in a loss to Okemos and Manton’s Matt Stuck, who scored 24 in defeat against Mio in 1989. But, according to Detroit Free Press accounts, it appears Michael Payton from Detroit St. Leo is the leading freshman point-getter in the Quarterfinal round. Payton netted 26 in a 74-62 loss to Flint St. Redeemer in the 1970 tournament.
Macon in 1984 and perhaps the most famous of freshmen in MHSAA Tournament history, Willie Betts of River Rouge in 1961, both scored 14 in Semifinal victories. Clyde Corley from Pontiac Central tossed in 16 points during a heartbreaking Semifinal defeat, 53-52, to Saginaw in 1976. Kelvin Torbert posted 17 points (and 10 rebounds) in a 65-62 Semifinal loss to Belleville in 1998. Morris tallied 18 in a loss to Melvindale Academy for Business & Technology in the Class C semis in 2010. So, Bates’ total of 31 certainly appears to top the list.
Only one freshman prior to Bates has hit for double digits in a state final. In 1992, Saginaw Buena Vista’s Terrance Roberson went 3 for 7 from the field and 4 for 7 from the free throw line to finish with 10 points as the Knights grabbed a 54-44 win over Grandville Calvin Christian.
Please, let me know if I missed a top performer.
Ron Pesch has taken an active role in researching the history of MHSAA events since 1985 and began writing for MHSAA Finals programs in 1986, adding additional features and "flashbacks" in 1992. He inherited the title of MHSAA historian from the late Dick Kishpaugh following the 1993-94 school year, and resides in Muskegon. Contact him at [email protected] with ideas for historical articles.
PHOTOS: (Top) Grand Haven’s Kathryn Ackerman swims the breaststroke portion of her record-setting 200-yard individual medley this past fall. (Top middle) Harrison-Farmington’s Ashley Turak looks to the clock after her 100 freestyle at the Lower Peninsula Division 1 Finals. (Middle) Schoolcraft’s Kobe Clark. (Middle below) Muskegon's Fred Jacks. (Below) Ypsilanti Lincoln’s Emoni Bates fires a jumper during his team’s Division 1 Semifinal win over Howell
Foster Loyer’s four-season career at Clarkston from 2014-15 through 2017-18 certainly must be considered among the most accomplished in state history as he led the Wolves to back-to-back Class A championships in 2017 and 2018 and is listed in the record book 25 times.
Among Loyer’s most notable entries were 2,325 career points (12th most), 272 career 3-pointers (tied for ninth), records of 119 consecutive free throws and 634 career free throws, a .921 free-throw percentage as a junior (tied for fourth) and .900 career percentage (second), 589 career assists (sixth), 278 career steals (15th) and 102 games played (tied for sixth).
Loyer went on to play at Michigan State and then Davidson.
See below for more recent record book entries for boys basketball.
Four Onaway standouts were added for single-season and/or career records. Jager Mix, who graduated in 2022, was added for 92 steals last season and 225 over his four-season career. Kevin Pearson, a 2021 grad, was added for 81 steals as a senior and 247 over his career. Joe Sigsby, a 2016 grad, was added for 127 steals, and Jadin Mix was added for 124 in 2021-22. Their totals rank ninth and tied for 10th, respectively, on that all-time list. Jager Mix also was added for 967 career rebounds, and Onaway as a team was added for tying the record for most points in a quarter with 49 during the first quarter of a win over Fife Lake Forest Area on Feb. 3, 2022. Jager Mix is playing at Alpena Community College, and Jadin Mix is a senior this school year.
Uchenna Amene was added for 11 steals in a March 7, 2022, game against West Bloomfield Frankel Jewish Academy and for 97 steals total over 25 games. He was a sophomore at Southfield Christian that season and now is a senior at Detroit Catholic Central.
Owen Franklin graduated from Oscoda in 2021 as the school’s all-time leading scorer, and nearly 44 percent of those 1,477 points came on 3-pointers. Franklin made the state career 3-pointers list with 216 over four seasons. He’s playing baseball at Northwood.
Traverse City Christian sophomore Reece Broderick became one of the state’s most accomplished long-distance shooters in just his second year of high school this past winter, drilling 104 3-pointers – good for third-most for one season all-time – over 23 games. He connected on 42 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc.
A pair of Rudyard four-year varsity standouts entered the record book after their graduations in 2022. Tate Besteman made the career rebounds list with 762 over 89 games, and EJ Suggitt made the career 3-pointers list with 215 over the same 89 contests. Besteman played this past season for Mid Michigan College, and Suggitt is playing baseball at Spring Arbor.
Success from 3-point range played a significant role in Mesick finishing 21-1 in 2021-22, as the team made 195 of its 578 attempts – with game highs of 15 twice in wins over Baldwin and Pentwater.
Then-senior Tristan McFolley earned the first listing under single-game rebounds since 2013 with 30 in Detroit Cesar Chavez Academy’s game with Hope of Detroit Academy on Dec. 8, 2022.
Tawas found its groove from long range Jan. 10 against Oscoda, drilling 22 3-pointers in an 86-31 win. The total tied for fifth-most in one game.
Although Norway felt just short, 40-37, in its District loss to Crystal Falls Forest Park on March 8, Alex Ortman kept the Knights close scoring 20 of his team-high 25 points in the fourth quarter to make the single-quarter scoring list. He’s now a senior.
Kobe Clark has listings in two MHSAA record books, with three for boys basketball joining those he earned for football during his Schoolcraft career. He was added in hoops for 531 career assists and 290 career steals over 94 games from 2016-17 through 2019-20, and also for 82 steals as a senior. Tyler DeGroote also was added to the record book, for scoring 20 points during the first quarter against Delton Kellogg during Schoolcraft’s Jan. 11, 2022, victory. Clark began at Saginaw Valley State for football and now plays basketball and Kalamazoo Valley Community College, and DeGroote is continuing at Rockhurst (Mo.).
Past Detroit Cooley star Larry Fogle has added a seventh record book listing a half-century later. Fogle grabbed 33 rebounds on Jan. 18, 1972, during a win over Detroit Mackenzie. He went on to play at Louisiana and Canisius, and then briefly with the New York Knicks.
Trevon Gunter scored 42 points in Kalamazoo Central’s 84-56 win over Richland Gull Lake on Jan. 17, 2020, including 31 during the third quarter – second-most and just one shy of the record for points during one period. A senior that season, Gunter plays currently at Grand Valley State.
Mark Wittbrodt held the record for consecutive free throws at 70 until 2008, and that entry in the record book has been joined by several others from the Bay City Western star. He was added for his 192 3-pointers, 436 free throws, .842 free-throw percentage and 266 career steals over three seasons from 1991-93, as well as for six single-season accomplishments. He went on to play at Michigan Tech.
Ellsworth’s Jacob Jenuwine tied for 12th on the single-game 3-pointers list when he connected on 11 as part of scoring 39 points total in his team’s Feb. 14 win over Alanson. Jenuwine graduated this spring.
Bellevue senior Dawson Wing capped his three-season varsity career last winter with three entries in the record. He was added for 12 blocked shots in a 2021-22 game against Colon, 107 for the season last winter and 203 blocks over his career. Teammate Caleb Betz, a senior this fall, was added for 12 steals in a game against Athens.
Logan Mansfield capped his Morenci career in a big way last winter. The senior drilled 90 3-pointers over 24 games to earn his school’s first individual record book entry in boys hoops since the 1987-88 season, when John Craig had 132 blocked shots that would have been the second-most recorded at that time. They currently rank 13th.
New Haven earned a pair of record book entries during its March 10 win over Memphis. The Rockets bested their previous single-quarter school record with 41 points during the opening period, and they also made the statewide single-game 3-pointers list with 16.
Whitehall’s Camden Thompson, a junior this fall, earned his first record book entry last winter – and the first for his school in boys basketball. He grabbed 303 rebounds over 21 games.
Grand Rapids Wellspring Prep junior Zeekeal Jackson earned his school's first boys basketball record book entry this past season as well. He made the single-season steals list with 106, over 22 games, and just missed the single-game list with a high of 10.
Jonesville’s Brady Wright was among his team’s leading scorers during his three varsity seasons ending this past winter, but he also was a major contributor defensively. He made the records with a season-high 101 steals over 25 games as a senior, and made the career list with 232 steals over 61 games.
Sophomore Christopher McLavish Jr. made a memorable impact last season with a pair of record book entries. He made the single-quarter points list with 20 in a Feb. 21 game against Flint Powers Catholic, but even more memorable were his 97 3-pointers over 25 games for the season – tying him for 11th all-time on that list.
PHOTO Foster Loyer directs Clarkston's offense during its 2018 Class A Semifinal.