Grayling, High-Scoring Senior Off to Fast Start, Setting Sights Higher

By Tom Spencer
Special for

September 8, 2023

Grayling is not normally mentioned among the contenders for the Lake Michigan Conference soccer championship.

Northern Lower PeninsulaNor have deep postseason runs been expected.

All that may be changing. The Vikings are making it known they will challenge the likes of Elk Rapids, Harbor Springs and Charlevoix for the league title, with Kalkaska hoping to contend in the LMC as well.

Grayling is scoring goals. The Vikings (7-1)  won their first seven contests this year scoring a combined 46 goals in the process. They picked up wins over Ogemaw Heights and Mount Pleasant along the way. They also won an early-season tournament they hosted.

Senior Mitchell Harrington is leading the way with 25 goals and eight assists.

“Mitch wasn’t on the radar last year preseason,” acknowledged Grayling coach Andy Moore. “He came back late preseason and then of course he gets all-state honorable mention last year as a junior.”

As a freshman Harrington played mostly defense for the Vikings. He switched to football his sophomore year. He came back to soccer last season and scored 26 goals and picked up five assists.

Now he has the single-season school scoring record in his sights along with challenging for the conference title and leading the Vikings into the postseason.

Harrington and Alex Moore (12) work to control possession against Charlevoix this season. Harrington is helping put the Vikings as a team on the radar screen too. They are coming off a 9-12-1 finish last year. They were 8-12-1 in 2021 and 12-6-1 in 2020, Moore’s first year at the helm.

Harrington is widely acclaimed for his speed and ability to put the ball in the net. Opposing coaches know they can never rest with a lead knowing Harrington is dangerous and can make the game interesting with his quick strikes.

“Mitch is a good kid,” Moore said of his senior star. “He’s a class act, and that’s what we tell these kids to be.”

Harrington is surrounded by talented soccer players, Moore is quick to say. 

“We have a good supporting cast,” Moore asserted.

Junior Drake Dunham has six goals and 11 assists. Senior Alex Moore has contributed five goals and four assists, and sophomore Brody Cobb has six goals and an assist.

Center back Grant Dunham, also a junior, leads the defense in front of sophomore Jordan Peters, who gained valuable experience in net last year.

“For me, it starts with our center defender Grant Dunham,” Moore said.  “And, Jordan is an amazing keeper.”

Grayling suffered its first loss of the season Thursday to perennial champ Elk Rapids. The Elks blew open a 1-1 second-half tie with five goals over the final 25 minutes of the contest. Harrington scored the Vikings’ lone goal.

“We had a learning experience,” Moore said of his team’s first loss. “We’ve got to adjust and move on and get ready for Harbor Springs. 

“We’ve got to move forward as a team and get better.”

The Vikings will play next at Harbor Springs on Sept. 12. They get to host both Harbor and the Elks later in the season. They also will play Kalkaska in a home and home. The Blazers tied Harbor on Thursday and are off to a 1-0-1 league and 4-1-2 overall start.

Grant Dunham drives the ball downfield.Harrington has high hopes of keeping the Vikings in the league race as he reaches for the school’s scoring record. The bar is set at 42.

“Mitch is aiming for the school record,” Moore pointed out. “He should get it, but we’ll see.”

Elk Rapids remains the measuring stick for much of the league, but especially Grayling’s fourth-year coach.

“Elk Rapids is the team where you want to be,” Moore said. “I always tell the kids this is the team you want to beat and want to compete against.

“Mentally, I think we’re there,” he continued. “I thought last year in the Districts we were there mentally as well, but we played nervous and fouled (and) gave up two early penalty kicks.”

The Elks defeated Grayling 5-2 last year in that contest on their way to the District and Regional titles. Harrington had both goals.

The Vikings, who will host the District tournament including both Elk Rapids and Kalkaska this fall, aren’t really surprised to be off to a 7-1 start.

“We kind of expected it a little bit with what we’ve been building on the last couple years,” Moore said.  “We’re excited.

“We beat a couple of quality teams in Ogemaw Heights and Mount Pleasant,” Moore continued. “We feel pretty good about ourselves.”

Tom SpencerTom Spencer is a longtime MHSAA-registered basketball and soccer official, and former softball and baseball official, and he also has coached in the northern Lower Peninsula area. He previously has written for the Saginaw News, Bay County Sports Page and Midland Daily News. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Grayling, including Caleb Baker (2), Ben Gardiner (13), Mitchel Harrington (4) and Gibsen Barnett (10), is off to a 7-1 start. (Middle) Harrington and Alex Moore (12) work to control possession against Charlevoix this season. (Below) Grant Dunham drives the ball downfield. (Photos by Stacy Moore.)

Record-Setting Saving, Historic Scoring Send Grosse Ile to 2018 Boys Soccer Finals

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

May 17, 2024

Grosse Ile’s Division 3 runner-up season in 2018 included multiple MHSAA team records for defensive and offensive success.

The Red Devils set a record with 21 straight shutouts and 24 total over 29 games, and also finished third all-time scoring 158 goals.

Their 23-game winning streak that season remains tied for seventh-longest as Grosse Ile finished 27-2.

See below for more recent additions to the MHSAA boys soccer record book, and click the heading to see the record book in full.

Boys Soccer

Keeper Ethan DeJager and Grandville Calvin Christian were nearly unbeatable in 2020, finishing 19-1-2 and runner-up in Division 4. They set a record allowing only four goals for the season, while DeJager is fourth on the season shutouts list with 19 over those 22 games and tied for the second-longest shutout streak at 13. DeJager was a senior that season.

Seth Davidson capped his four-year varsity career this past fall on three records lists for shutouts – 15 over 22 games this past season, 26 for his career and nine straight as a senior. Berkley as a team also made the fewest goals allowed list, giving up only 11 in finishing 18-2-2.

Caden Saxton capped a memorable four-year Flint Kearsley varsity career in the fall with four entries in the record book. He made the assists list with 27 over 21 games as a senior and also the single-season points list with 65, and made career lists in those categories with 63 assists and 149 points, respectively, over 71 games.

Jonesville advanced in its District this past season with an 8-5 overtime win over Blissfield on Oct. 12, and Warrick Elder played a big part scoring six goals. He’s a senior.

Kalamazoo Hackett Catholic Prep’s run to the Division 4 Semifinals saw contributions from several players, and junior James Whiting was among those leading the way. He made the assists list with 30 over 22 games, and also the total points list with 49. He also sits on the career assists list after three seasons with 66 and one more season to play.

Holland Christian made the team list for 12 straight shutouts from Sept. 8-Oct. 19, and 15 shutouts total over 20 games this past season. Junior Adam Bergman was in goal for all 15 including the 12 consecutive.

Muskegon Oakridge senior Arturo Romero-Serrano capped his career in the fall with his second season reaching 40 goals, netting 42 total to finish his four-year career with 105 and also on the MHSAA career points list with 125. He also added a second six-goal game, against Muskegon Catholic Central on Aug. 25.

Monroe Jefferson’s season came to an end Oct. 11 in a District game against Riverview, but senior Gabe Gelso finished with a state record. He made 49 saves in the 9-0 defeat as the Bears had only eight players total.

Ian Klenk added eight more shutouts in goal this past fall to finish his three-season varsity career with 25 in 60 games and make the career list in that category. He’ll continue his career at Kuyper College.

PHOTO Grosse Ile's keeper Brendan Ebler (1) gathers the ball and charts his next move during the 2018 Division 3 Final.