1st & Goal: 2021 11-Player Semifinals Review

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

November 22, 2021

The 11-Player Football Finals field is set. Ford Field, here we come.

MI Student AidAfter crisscrossing the Lower Peninsula on Saturday for Semifinals, all vehicles will be pointed toward downtown Detroit this weekend – including parades from a few communities we’ll be seeing for the first time.

Belleville, Warren Michigan Collegiate and Lawton, welcome to a Thanksgiving week like no other. The other 13 teams that will be making the trip Friday and Saturday have been to this point before – including three just 10 months ago – and surely they’d agree this trip to Detroit will be unforgettable.

Below is a glance at how all 16 took the final step to earn the opportunity.

(We’ll review Saturday’s 8-Player Finals – won by Adrian Lenawee Christian and Powers North Central – during a look back at all 10 football championship games next week.)

Division 1

Belleville 40, Sterling Heights Stevenson 26

In their fourth-straight Semifinal, the Tigers (12-1) earned their first Finals trip. Freshman quarterback Bryce Underwood threw three touchdown passes and ran for one more as Belleville scored the most points Stevenson (10-3) had allowed in a game since a Week 1 loss to Rockford. Click for more from the Detroit Free Press.

Rochester Adams 40, Grand Blanc 20

Adams (13-0) won a matchup of undefeated teams to reach the Finals for the first time since 2003, showing its defensive might again in shutting down a Bobcats offense that averaged 42 points per game entering the day. Grand Blanc finished its longest tournament run and winningest season at 12-1. Click for more from the Oakland Press.

Division 2

Traverse City Central 56, South Lyon 20

The Trojans (12-1) earned their first Finals trip since 1988. Central took a 42-7 lead into halftime as Josh Burnham scored three touchdowns, and blocked a field goal attempt too. South Lyon (12-1) was making its first Semifinal appearance since 2004. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Warren De La Salle Collegiate 49, Livonia Franklin 14

The Pilots (12-0) will play in their fourth Division 2 Final in five seasons, with an opportunity to finish undefeated for the first time during the playoff era. Junior quarterback Brady Drogosh threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more, including a 73-yarder. Franklin finished 7-6 after entering the playoffs 4-5. Click for more from the Macomb Daily.

Division 3

Detroit Martin Luther King 46, Mason 7

The Crusaders (12-1) advanced to their fourth Final in six seasons and first since 2019. While topping 40 points for the seventh time in 11 games played on the field, King also lowered its playoff points-allowed average to 9.5 with a second-straight game giving up a single score. Mason completed its winningest season, and longest playoff run, at 10-3. Click for more from the Detroit Free Press.

DeWitt 43, St. Joseph 7

The Panthers (12-1) will return to Ford Field with an opportunity to repeat as Division 3 champions. DeWitt built a 29-0 halftime lead, as quarterback Ty Holtz threw three first-half touchdown passes, including 69 and 40-yarders to Tommy McIntosh. St. Joseph (8-5) was playing in its first Semifinal since 2007 after entering the postseason 5-4. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Division 4

Chelsea 30, Freeland 27

For the second straight week, Chelsea came up with a big play at the end to advance. This time it was a near-goal line stand to stop a Freeland offense that had gotten two rushing and two passing touchdowns from quarterback Bryson Huckaby. The Falcons finished a second-straight Semifinal run 11-2. Click for more from the Ann Arbor News.

Hudsonville Unity Christian 58, Edwardsburg 8

The Crusaders (13-0) moved into second all-time for scoring in one season at 751 points with their 11th game putting up more than 50, and with a defensive showing to match – Edwardsburg (12-1) entered the game averaging 53 points per. Unity’s Abraham Rappuhn scored three first-half touchdowns, including an 81-yarder. Click for more from FOX 17.

Division 5

Grand Rapids Catholic Central 35, Frankenmuth 0

The rematch of last season’s Division 5 championship game saw Grand Rapids Catholic Central (13-0) go up 21-0 midway through the first quarter. Cougars quarterback John Passinault ran for three touchdowns and threw for the other two. Frankenmuth finished 12-1, its only losses the last two seasons to GRCC. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Marine City 27, Portland 7

The Mariners (13-0) are headed back to Ford Field for the first time since 2013 after another dominating defensive performance – they haven’t given up more than 14 points in a game, and lowered their per game defensive average to 9.1 allowed per contest. The Raiders finished 10-3. Click for more from the Port Huron Times-Herald.

Division 6

Lansing Catholic 18, Standish-Sterling 7

The Cougars will be returning to Ford Field seeking a second championship in three seasons to go with a 2019 title in Division 5. The Cougars (12-1) matched defense with defense, scoring their second-fewest points this fall but holding Standish-Sterling to a tie for the latter’s lowest output. The Panthers finished 10-3, making an incredible jump from last season’s 1-6 record. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Warren Michigan Collegiate 36, Michigan Center 29

Michigan Collegiate (11-2) earned its first trip to the Finals, thanks in part to a series of big plays by Deion Black on both sides of the ball. The teams were tied after three quarters, and traded scores in the fourth with the Cougars reaching the end zone last. Michigan Center finished 11-2, setting a program record for wins. Click for more from MLive-Detroit.

Division 7

Lawton 21, Jackson Lumen Christi 20

The Blue Devils are headed to the Finals for the first time after following up a memorable Regional Final win with perhaps an even more unforgettable Semifinal finish. Landon Motter’s two-point conversion with 46 seconds to play put Lawton (13-0) up for good. The Blue Devils had jumped out to a 13-0 first-half lead but found themselves trailing Lumen Christi (11-2) by a point heading into the fourth quarter. Click for more from the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Pewamo-Westphalia 28, Traverse City St. Francis 21

The Pirates (13-0) will have a chance to win a second Division 7 title in three years after holding off last season’s runner-up St. Francis (12-1). The teams were tied 14-14 heading into the final quarter, and P-W’s defense was able to slow St. Francis’ offense for most of it, for the game holding the Gladiators to their fewest points this season and well below their average of 50 per game. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Division 8

Beal City 12, Ubly 7

The Aggies (12-1) will return to the Finals for the second time in three seasons thanks to the latest of a string of strong defensive showings. Beal City lowered its points-allowed average to 8.3 per game by stopping an Ubly offense that had averaged 45 per game entering Saturday. The Bearcats (12-1) were last season’s Division 8 runners-up up. Click for more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.

Hudson 28, Ottawa Lake Whiteford 22

The Tigers (13-0) advanced to their first championship game since 2010 relying again on an excellent defense to slow down a Whiteford offense averaging 51 points per game, but also on the legs of Bronson Marry – who ran for four second-half touchdowns as Hudson came all the way back from a 22-0 halftime deficit. It was the only loss to an in-state opponent this fall for the Bobcats (11-2). Click for more from the Adrian Daily Telegram.

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PHOTO Traverse City Central's Carson Bourdo (11) tries to break away from a South Lyon defender during Saturday's Division 2 Semifinal win. (Photo by Jamie McNinch.)

Ubly Offense, Kicker Pile Up Record Book Listings During Championship Run

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

April 12, 2024

Ubly finished a combined 27-1 over the last two seasons, following up a Division 8 runner-up run in 2022 with its first MHSAA Finals championship this past November. And the Bearcats stacked plenty of record book performances along the way.

Individually, senior Brett Mueller made the single-season extra point list again this past season with 76 in 81 tries, and he set the MHSAA career record with 220 extra points over 232 attempts, 40 games and three seasons. He has signed with Saginaw Valley State.

As a team, Ubly was added to the record book 13 times for achievements over the last two years, most notably in the rushing game. The Bearcats topped 5,200 total yards both seasons, and also made the rush yardage list twice including with a sixth-best 5,148 in 2022. Their 90 touchdowns in 2022 rank seventh all-time, and their 85 this past fall tied for 13th, and they tied the record with 10 rushing touchdowns in a 2022 win over Reese and set another record with 84 rushing touchdowns total that season.

See below for more recent record book additions in 11-player football, and click the heading to see the record book in full:

11-Player Football

Dundee’s Ben Miller has a pair of basketball record book entries, and he’s also been added in football for scoring seven touchdowns in his team’s 72-36 win over Erie Mason on Oct. 20, 2017. A senior that season, he ran for five scores and caught two touchdowns passes.

Nearly four decades later, Howard City Tri County’s Mike Wagoner has reached the record book for his work on defense in 1985. A junior that season, Wagoner returned three interceptions for touchdowns – 65, 55 and 35 yards – which would have been second on the list at the time and remains tied for third-most for one season.

Jaxon Lippert tops the list of 21 who have returned kickoffs 99 yards. Lippert, now a senior at Walled Lake Western, joined the list against Davison during his junior season.

A handful of records from Warren De La Salle Collegiate’s recent run of Ford Field teams and also one from decades ago were added. Jake Badalamenti was added three times for kickoff returns between 96-99 yards, one as a junior in 2016 and two as a senior the following fall, and Marty Wyzlic was added for his 95-yarder in 1976. Mason Muragin is the new leader for tackles for loss in a career with 71 over three seasons, and he also was added to the single-season list with 31 as a junior in 2021, as was Will Beasley for 38 as a junior in 2020. Wayne Wright was added for his 16 sacks over nine games as a senior in 1984, and Josh Cox was added for his 100-yard interception return as a senior in 2012. Muragin plays at Illinois, Beesley plays at Princeton, Cox played at Central Michigan, and Badalamenti played baseball at Wayne State.

Pinckney junior Nolan Carruthers caught 16 passes during a 13-7 loss to Jackson on Sept. 15, good to tie for ninth-most in one game and breaking the Livingston County record of 14 by Hartland’s Greg Matthyssen in 2007 – a listing that also was added.

Ethan Wissner did some major lifting, or rather carrying, during Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker’s 28-14 District Final win over Montrose in 2022. The then-senior ran 42 times to make the record book, for 289 yards and three touchdowns. He’s continuing at Siena Heights.

Senior quarterback Andrew Schuster and junior receiver DeShaun Lanier formed a game-changing pass-catch combo this past season for Clinton Township Chippewa Valley, with Schuster finishing his career with nine record book listings and Lanier totaling six with a season to play. Schuster most notably was added for 212 completions on 301 attempts for 2,766 yards and 28 touchdowns this season, and 321 completions and 4,199 career yards over two years and 22 games. Lanier was added in part for 73 receptions for 1,132 yards and 15 TDs this fall. Junior kicker Juliano Haddad also earned impressive mentions with 10 field goals and 50 extra points – and he’ll carry a streak of 35 straight extra points into next fall. Schuster has committed to Grand Valley State.

Fulton’s Evan Barton has been added to the single-game touchdowns list after catching four scoring passes Sept. 8, 2017, against Potterville. He was a senior that season.

Saginaw Heritage’s Braylon Isom completed his career this past fall as arguably the most accomplished receiver in MHSAA history. His name is listed in the record book eight times, with career records of 3,837 receiving yards and 52 touchdowns over 34 games and four seasons, and with a single-season record 26 touchdowns this past fall over 12 games. His 91 career receptions rank fifth, and he’s also listed for 82 catches and 1,617 yards (seventh-most) as a senior and 1,428 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior. He will continue at Miami (Ohio).

Evart’s 24-8 run over the last three seasons has been its most successful of the MHSAA playoff era, and senior quarterback Preston Wallace has played an enormous part. He finished his 33-game career in the fall – he came up for one game as a freshman – on record book lists twice for single-season passing yards and touchdowns and on career lists for 662 attempts, 421 completions, 6,955 yards and 88 passing touchdowns over those 32 games and three seasons. The yardage ranks 15th all-time, and the touchdowns are tied for sixth-most for one career.  

The 2005 Midland Bullock Creek team was added for scoring 547 points over 12 games. The Lancers finished 11-1, their only loss in a Division 5 Regional Final.

PHOTO Ubly's Seth Maurer (30) carries the ball during the Division 8 championship win over Ottawa Lake Whiteford in November.