Preview: 1st-Time Finalists, D3 Rematch Among Saturday Storylines

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

November 5, 2021

Three teams will make their first MHSAA Boys Soccer Finals appearances Saturday, and we’re guaranteed a first-time champion in Division 4. Three more finalists are seeking to win their first Finals title in a decade or longer.

And then there’s the Division 3 Final, where the two contenders couldn’t be more familiar with each other. Grosse Ile has won two straight championships, both times defeating Grand Rapids South Christian, and they’ll meet for a third-straight title-deciding match Saturday at Comstock Park.

Here’s a look at Saturday’s full schedule:

Division 1: New Baltimore Anchor Bay (22-1-1) vs Okemos (19-0-4), noon
Division 4: Clarkston Everest Collegiate (18-2-4) vs Wyoming Potter's House (23-3-1), 3 p.m.

Division 2: Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice (10-6-4) vs Grand Rapids Christian (15-7-2), noon
Division 3: Grosse Ile (21-1-1) vs Grand Rapids South Christian (21-0-3), 3 p.m.

All of Saturday’s Finals will be broadcast live and viewable with subscription on, with audio available on See below for glances at all eight finalists, and come back to Second Half later Saturday for coverage of all four championship games. (The Michigan Power Rating noted below is derived from a team's success and strength of schedule and was used to seed Districts at the start of the postseason. The MPRs listed were where teams ranked at the start of District play. Rankings were by the Michigan High School Soccer Coaches Association in its final weekly poll.)


Record/rank: 22-1-1, No. 3
Michigan Power Rating: No. 9
Coach: Nate Williams, 10th season (108-63-19)
League finish: First in Macomb Area Conference Red
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Evan Linsley, sr. GK (0.97 goals-against average, 6 shutouts); Jake Ursitti, sr. F (21 goals, 8 assists); Carson Hodgson, sr. M (13 goals, 29 assists); Tanner Hodgson, sr. M (21 goals, 17 assists).
Outlook: Bringing Anchor Bay to its first MHSAA Final in this sport is a crowning achievement for a group of 16 seniors, including nine who start. But they have a chance to accomplish an even greater feat. The Tars earned it in part by handing top-ranked Troy its only loss in last week’s Regional Final, and Anchor Bay’s only defeat this fall came against No. 15 Macomb Dakota – a loss then avenged in the District Final. Tanner Hodgson made the all-state first team and Carson Hodgson and Linsley made the second team in 2020 when the team reached the Regional Finals and lost in a shootout.

 19-0-4, No. 4
Michigan Power Rating: No. 4
Coach: Brian Guggemos, 20th season (290-83-43)
League finish: First in Capital Area Activities Conference Blue
Championship history: Division 1 champion 2004, Class B-C champion 1984.
Players to watch: Sawyer Van Antwerp, jr. GK (0.46 goals-against average, 10.5 shutouts); Ben Hussey, sr. M (4 goals, 5 assists); Jack Guggemos, sr. F (45 goals, 14 assists); Owen Brewer, sr. F (19 goals, 19 assists).
Outlook: Okemos won its first Regional title since 2004 after claiming a third-straight District trophy and a league championship ahead of No. 11 East Lansing and Division 2 No. 12 DeWitt. Okemos defeated the Trojans, No. 8 East Kentwood and No. 5 Northville on the way to the championship match. The ties came early against East Lansing and Rochester Hills Stoney Creek and then at the end of September against Division 2 finalist Bloomfield Hills Brother Rice and Troy. Eight seniors start. Jack Guggemos set the school record for goals this fall after making the all-state first team last season, and Hussey earned an all-state honorable mention a year ago.


 10-6-4, unranked 
Michigan Power Rating: No. 32 
Coach: Danny Price, third season (19-27-5)
League finish: Fourth in Detroit Catholic League Central
Championship history: Two MHSAA titles (most recent 2009), three runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Giuliano Denipoti, sr. F (12 goals), Enzo Bordogna, jr. D (3 goals, 15 assists), Josh Copeland, jr. M (4 goals, 5 assists), Henry Allen, jr. GK (1.55 goals-against average).
Outlook: Brother Rice has found its stride under Price this season, and especially over the last three weeks after coming into the playoffs on an 0-3-1 trip – although that draw was against Division 1 finalist Okemos. The Warriors also had shown their potential with regular-season wins over Detroit Catholic Central and Detroit Country Day, and a 3-1 District Final victory over No. 5 Bloomfield Hills Cranbrook Kingswood made a big wave in the bracket. Rice defeated No. 12 DeWitt in a shootout Wednesday to advance to this weekend. The future should be bright as well with only two seniors among 11 players who have scored for the team this fall.

16-7-2, No. 13
Michigan Power Rating: No. 20
Coach: Aric Dershem, second season (28-10-2)
League finish: Second in Ottawa-Kent Conference White
Championship history: Division 2 champion 1998 and 2001.
Players to watch: Nicholas Cassiday, sr. M (36 goals, 10 assists); Benjamin Kuiper, sr. F (16 goals, 5 assists); Hans Pruis, sr. F (10 goals, 9 assists); Xander Scofield, jr. GK (1.94 goals-against average, 6 shutouts).
Outlook: Grand Rapids Christian won its first Regional title since that last Division 2 championship run, despite entering the postseason off a 1-4-1 two-week span. The Eagles have outscored their six tournament opponents by a combined 27-4, upsetting top-ranked and reigning champion Richland Gull Lake 2-1 in the Semifinal and also defeating No. 8 Petoskey, No. 9 Spring Lake and No. 14 East Grand Rapids along the way. Cassiday made the all-state Dream Team last season, while senior defender Eli Leegwater and junior midfielder Jonathan Clarkin also are back in the lineup after earning all-state honorable mentions in 2020.


21-0-3, No. 5  
Michigan Power Rating: No. 2
Coach: Joel Vande Kopple, first season (21-0-3)
League finish: First in O-K Gold
Championship history: Three MHSAA titles (most recent 2015), four runner-up finishes.
Players to watch: Levi DeRuiter, sr. M (7 goals, 18 assists); Diego Tiscareno, sr. M (13 goals, 3 assists); Sam Medendorp, jr. F (12 goals, 6 assists); Jordan Gabrielse, sr. F (12 goals, 5 assists).
Outlook: South Christian returns for its third-straight try for the Division 3 title after graduating five players who earned all-state recognition in 2020. The Sailors did return DeRuiter, who earned an honorable mention a year ago, and Vande Kopple took over the program with more than 200 career wins and having led Lansing Christian to the 2013 Division 4 championship. The Sailors have defeated No. 1 Holland Christian, No. 4 Elk Rapids and No. 12 Grand Rapids Catholic Central during their tournament run and total have won 16 straight matches.

21-1-1, No. 2 
Michigan Power Rating: No. 5
Coach: Jon Evans, sixth season (136-7-10)
League finish: First in Huron League
Championship history: Division 3 champions 2002, 2019 and 2020; runner-up 2018.
Players to watch: Hayden Watson, jr. GK (13 shutouts), Joe Molnar, jr. M (24 goals, 8 assists), Anthony Shaheen, sr. F (21 goals, 6 assists), Jon Duke, sr. M (16 goals, 9 assists); Cannon Kawadri, jr. M (12 goals, 6 assists).
Outlook: Grosse Ile is making its fourth-straight trip to the championship match with a lot of important players from last season’s run again leading the way. Duke, Kawadri and Watson all made the all-state first team in 2020, while sophomore defender Ali Khaled (2 goals/19 assists) and senior defender Clayton Lafayette (4 goals/14 assists) made the third team and senior defender Ty Garza (8 goals/8 assists) earned an honorable mention. The only loss this fall came in the regular-season finale to Division 1 Brownstown Woodhaven, and the Red Devils rebounded to outscore their five playoff opponents by a combined 23-5.


17-2-4, No. 5 
Michigan Power Rating: No. 11
Coach: John Haezebrouck, 11th season (94-86-21)
League finish: First in Detroit Catholic League Intersectional #2
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Lucas Cross, sr. F/M (29 goals, 29 assists); Mark Cross, fr. F (24 goals, 7 assists); Luke Walker jr. M/D (6 goals, 17 assists); Tom Williams, jr. GK (1.03 goals-against average, 7 shutouts).
Outlook: Haezebrouck has built Everest from a program finishing under .500 five of his first six seasons to one that is coming off its third-straight Regional title. The Mountaineers got past league rival and No. 4-ranked Royal Oak Shrine Catholic in the District Final before winning Regional matches against No. 11 Lansing Christian and No. 10 Bad Axe. The only losses came to Shrine in their first of three meetings Sept. 2 and 1-0 to Division 3 No. 10 Pontiac Notre Dame Prep. Lucas Cross made the all-state first team in 2020 and Walker made the second. Sophomore forward Tito Fortuny had added nine more goals heading into this week.

23-3-1, No. 6
Michigan Power Rating: No. 8
Coach: Mike Colago, third season (46-12-3)
League finish: First in Alliance League
Championship history: Has never played in an MHSAA Final.
Players to watch: Jonathan Stout, sr. F (26 goals, 9 assists); Seth Hoeksema, sr. GK (0.76 goals-against average, 11 shutouts); Jok Nhial, sr. F (9 goals, 6 assists); Yosia Mukanda, sr. M (24 goals, 5 assists).
Outlook: Potter’s House has reached the season’s final week for the first time after navigating a tournament path that included No. 2 Grandville Calvin Christian and saw the Pumas win three one-goal games and their District opener in a shootout. Stout made the all-state first team last season and Hoeksema and Nhial earned honorable mentions, and they lead a starting lineup featuring six seniors total. Junior midfielder Jacob Caballero (3 goals/8 assists) also had reached double-digit points entering the week, and senior forward Daniel Fesahaye (5 goals/4 assists) and junior midfielder Rukundo Masengesho (3 goals/5 assists) were closing in.

PHOTO Grosse Ile's Jon Duke (4), here controlling possession during last season's Division 3 Final, returns Saturday hoping to help his team to a three-peat. 

Working Together, with Neighbor's Help, Schoolcraft Teams Making Selves at 'Home'

By Pam Shebest
Special for

September 19, 2023

SCHOOLCRAFT — If it is a home game for the Schoolcraft football team, head over to Vicksburg.

Southwest CorridorIf it is soccer, go to Schoolcraft’s baseball field.

Things are a bit jumbled in the sports world for the Eagles this season.

With a new football field under construction and a new elementary school built on the site of the former practice fields, the two teams have been a bit displaced.

“Along with our football field, we had three practice fields that were utilized by a lot of our youth programs, Rocket football, youth soccer and our soccer and football programs,” Schoolcraft athletic director Bryan Applin said. “It’s taken a lot of understanding and flexibility from our coaches, players and our community to make it work out, and it has.”

Meanwhile, all four Eagles home football games will be played at Vicksburg High School.

If Vicksburg is home on a Friday, then the Eagles will play Saturday, including their Homecoming game this Saturday against Galesburg-Augusta.

The Eagles won their only “home” game so far, 33-14 against Kalamazoo United, and take a 3-1 record into Saturday’s contest.

The soccer team gave up its field to the football team for practices and has been practicing and playing their matches in the outfield of the baseball stadium.

For the soccer team, “It’s kind of an upgrade,” Applin said. “The soccer field they traditionally play on, they don’t have a scoreboard, they don’t have a bathroom facility, so we’ve been able to use the (baseball) scoreboard, the PA system, open up the bathroom building.

Schoolcraft’s Kolby Lloyd (10) works to break away from a tackler during a “home” game played at Vicksburg this fall. “The goal at some point is to give soccer a home, and we’re very, very excited about that.”

This year definitely has been challenging for the first-year AD, who credits Vicksburg athletic director Mike Roy with being a tremendous help.

“Mike Roy has been nothing but accommodating to us,” Applin said. “He’s been super helpful to me stepping in and assuming this scenario.

“The communities are so close, it almost feels like home for us.”

Roy said Jeff Clark, former Schoolcraft AD, reached out once the bond was passed for the new stadium last year.

“We had to make small accommodations as did Schoolcraft to make the schedules work,” Roy said. “By moving (Schoolcraft’s) games to Saturday, Vicksburg had to work with our Rocket football organization to make sure games were completed” before the Eagles varsity games.

Schoolcraft football coach Nathan Ferency said his team has been “rolling with the punches.

“These guys don’t care where it’s at; they just want to play football. We’re all taking care of each other. What a great place to be when everybody works together.”

When Jake Bailey heard the team would be playing at Vicksburg, “That got me excited,” the junior offensive tackle said. “They’ve got a really nice facility. I know the school will come out to support us no matter where we are, but it’s definitely different.

“Good thing we don’t play Vicksburg, although it would be fun because it would be both our home fields. The new facilities and being back at our home field at Roy Davis (Field next year) will be really fun.”

Vicksburg is Division 4, while Schoolcraft is Division 7.

Clockwise, from top left: Schoolcraft football coach Nathan Ferency, Schoolcraft boys soccer coach Jeremy Mutchler, soccer player Jack Curtis and football player Jake Bailey.The soccer team was “just being a team player” in giving up its own field for football practice, second-year head coach Jeremy Mutchler said.

“For the soccer team to be a team player and get behind the football team will help the community get behind the soccer team as well,” he added.

The biggest drawback is that part of the current field includes a piece of the baseball infield.

“The only odd thing is it is a smaller field, still regulation size, but smaller,” Mutchler said. “Part of the field is in the diamond, so we have to play in the dirt and it gets tricky, especially when you’re trying to throw it in or just play down the line.”

The move has cost the team a few home games.

“At the beginning of the year, we allowed schools, if they didn’t want to play here, we would go to their house,” Mutchler said. “We had to go to a few schools we would have played at home.”

Maintenance supervisor Eric McGehee was instrumental in preparing the field.

“He laid out exactly the parameters, so I was able to send that to all the ADs that were going to visit to give them an opportunity to decide whether that’s something they wanted to help us out for our home games,” Applin said. “A lot of schools were more than willing to come and play us to give our boys some home games. A couple wanted to be cautious and play on a more traditional surface, and we were able to make those arrangements as well.”

In only its second year as a varsity sport, the boys soccer team is still finding its identity, posting a 2-5 record so far.

Schoolcraft athletic director Bryan Applin has taken over the maneuvering of the teams’ home sites during his first year on the job.“We’re a very young team,” Mutchler said. “All juniors and freshmen. This is the juniors' second regular season. It’s all been a learning phase with maturity and sportsmanship.”

Junior captain Jack Curtis said he was a bit “bummed out” when he heard the team would move to the baseball field.

“The first practice, I drove over to our practice field,” he said. “No one was there.

“I drove over to the high school and saw everyone practicing (at the baseball field). I didn’t think a soccer field could fit on a baseball field.”

Curtis said in spite of the temporary move, “I’m just glad we can have some home games this year on Schoolcraft soil.”

As for Applin, he spent much of his career coaching basketball at both the high school and college levels and most recently worked as a salesman for Zeigler. His wife, Meredith, is an assistant coach for Western Michigan University’s women’s basketball team.

Ferency is appreciative of the work Clark and Applin have done to make this season’s changes relatively seamless.

“I’d like to highlight how great our athletic department is,” he said. “It takes a lot of moving pieces and parts to move people around and have a space for everybody.

“I’m really proud of our athletic department and all our coaches and kids for just rolling with the punches.”

Pam ShebestPam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Schoolcraft’s varsity boys soccer team, including Nyan Wonders (15), faces Comstock this season on its field in the outfield of the baseball stadium. (2) Schoolcraft’s Kolby Lloyd (10) works to break away from a tackler during a “home” game played at Vicksburg this fall. (3) Clockwise, from top left: Schoolcraft football coach Nathan Ferency, Schoolcraft boys soccer coach Jeremy Mutchler, soccer player Jack Curtis and football player Jake Bailey. (4) Schoolcraft athletic director Bryan Applin has taken over the maneuvering of the teams’ home sites during his first year on the job. (Action photos by Stephanie Blentlinger/Lingering Memories Photography. Headshots and Applin photo by Pam Shebest.)