'Dogs' Eat, East Grand Rapids Wins in D2

June 10, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

HOWELL – If the “dog’s gotta eat,” as the expression goes, consider Hub Hejna permanently satisfied with the final feast of his high school lacrosse career.

East Grand Rapids senior attacks Hejna, Ben Keller and Luke Elder earned the nickname “dogs” from coach Rick DeBlasio earlier this season. And if there ever was a time to feed, Saturday’s Division 2 Final fit the bill.

The dogs combined to score eight goals, with Hejna’s last coming with two minutes to play as rival Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central was on a three-goal run. That last score ended up a little more insurance as the Pioneers closed out an 11-9 win and first MHSAA title in this sport since 2009 after finishing runner-up to the Rangers a year ago.

“It’s just part of the system,” Hejna said. “He came to calling us that, and whoever can get it done, just put it in the back of the net.

“It’s kinda goofy. But when a guy like that says something, you just roll with it, see where it goes.”

It went a lot farther than the last day of the season a year ago, when the Pioneers scored only six goals to Forest Hills Central’s 10 – although of those six, Hejna, Keller and Elder combined for five.

This season, entering this week, the trio had scored a combined 184 goals over 17 games. In Saturday’s Final, Hejna scored the team’s first two and four total, while Keller had three and Elder added one.

Forest Hills Central actually opened a 2-0 lead before Hejna’s two goals over the final 2:36 of the first quarter and Keller’s two over the first six minutes of the second gave East Grand Rapids a 4-2 lead that it never would relinquish, although the Rangers pulled within a goal three times.  

But unlike in Wednesday's overtime Semifinal win over Detroit Country Day in which it trailed by four at one point, Forest Hills Central fell just short of turning the tide. 

“We’re blessed this year with probably the three best attack guys in the state, as a group,” DeBlasio said. “There are other kids like Bryce (Clay of FHC) who are excellent. (But) when you put them all together, our three, we call them the dogs. And our whole attitude is just feed the dogs and make sure we enable them to go.”

East Grand Rapids had avenged last season’s championship game loss to Forest Hills Central with 15-13 and 16-9 wins this spring in finishing first just ahead of the Rangers in the Ottawa-Kent Conference Tier 1 standings.

But that didn’t mean the Pioneers (18-1) went into Saturday overconfident – not against an opponent they knew so well. 

In fact, East Grand Rapids’ 11 goals were its second fewest this season. Forest Hills Central’s eight also were its second fewest.

Clay scored five of those goals, tying for fourth most in championship game history. Junior Patrick English added two. 

Junior Eric Solberg added a pair of goals for the Pioneers.

“We had to play flawlessly to beat them, and obviously we got down in a position early that we didn’t want to be in,” FHC coach Patrick Clay said. “But given the situation from Wednesday we felt we could keep believing and we came up just a little short today.

“We talked about opportunity. Today we put ourselves in an opportunity to win.”

Forest Hills Central finished 15-7 this spring. East Grand Rapids’ lone loss came by a goal to Division 1 semifinalist Rockford. The Pioneers also earned a two-goal win early over eventual Division 1 runner-up Detroit Catholic Central.

Click for the full scoring summary.

PHOTOS: (Top) East Grand Rapids’ goalie Nick Milanowski reaches for a shot during Saturday’s Division 1 Final. (Middle) Forest Hills Central’s Luke Majick advances the ball.

Representative Council Approves Limited Regional Seeding in Girls Lacrosse at Fall Meeting

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

December 9, 2022

The addition of limited seeding at the Regional level of the Girls Lacrosse Tournament headlined actions taken by the Representative Council of the Michigan High School Athletic Association during its Fall Meeting on Dec. 2 in East Lansing.

Generally, the Council takes only a few actions during its Fall Meeting, with topics often introduced for additional consideration and action during its meetings in winter and spring. This Fall Meeting saw the Council take only three actions, with additional discussion centered on topics expected to receive more specific consideration at MHSAA sport committee meetings this winter and the Council’s meetings in March and May.

The Council approved a Girls Lacrosse Committee proposal to seed the top two teams in every Regional, and place those top seeds on opposite sides of the bracket beginning with the 2023 season. The two teams to be seeded will be determined by using the MHSAA’s Michigan Power Ratings (MPR) formula, which takes into account success and strength of schedule and is used currently to provide seeding information in boys lacrosse, girls and boys basketball, girls and boys soccer, and ice hockey. Only the top two teams in girls lacrosse will be seeded and separated; the other teams in each Regional will be placed on their brackets by random draw.

The Council also approved a Boys Lacrosse Committee recommendation that will allow athletes to participate in up to five quarters per day between teams at multiple levels – for example, varsity and junior varsity – also beginning with the 2023 season. For boys lacrosse multi-team tournaments, if two school teams (for example, the varsity and junior varsity) are at the same event, athletes may play in no more halves or quarters than what is being played by the school’s highest-level team that day. (Example: if the varsity team is playing three 30-minute half games for a total of six halves, a player playing both varsity and JV on the same day can play in six total halves that day.) The “fifth quarter” rule, by allowing athletes to compete on two levels on the same day, is intended to help programs that are otherwise lacking enough participants to field teams at multiple levels.

Taking into account the wintery weather conditions experienced by athletes during the MHSAA alpine ski season, the Council approved a Sports Medicine Advisory Committee recommendation to adopt the “MHSAA Competition and Practice Guidelines for Cold Weather,” which are specific to alpine skiing. The guidelines include a windchill chart and cold standards for ambient temperature. This proposal also was supported by the Ski Committee and will go into effect for the 2022-23 season.

Remaining discussions focused on results from this fall’s Update Meeting survey completed by administrators during the MHSAA’s annual presentations across the state. The Council considered survey data including on questions related to the out-of-season travel rule. The Council also discussed results of a fall survey completed by member school athletic directors and head varsity football coaches concerning ongoing conversations about scheduling and playoff format. Following the Football Committee meeting in January 2023, an ad hoc committee comprised of members of the MHSAA staff, Representative Council, Michigan Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (MIAAA) and Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) will be convened for further discussion on these topics, with their report to be provided to the Council during its March 2023 meeting.

The Fall Meeting saw the appointment of Westland John Glenn athletic director Jason Malloy for a first-two-year term to the 19-person Council, and the re-appointment of Bay City Western principal Judy Cox for a second two-year term. Malloy previously was appointed to finish a partial term as one of the two representatives of member junior high/middle schools.

The Council reelected Scott Grimes, superintendent for Grand Haven Area Public Schools, as its president; and Vic Michaels, director of physical education and athletics for the Archdiocese of Detroit, as secretary-treasurer. Brighton High School athletic director John Thompson was elected Council vice president.

The Representative Council is the legislative body of the MHSAA. All but five members are elected by member schools. Four members are appointed by the Council to facilitate representation of females and minorities, and the 19th position is occupied by the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee.

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.