Behind Scenes, St Mary's Goes to Goddard

September 27, 2016

By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half

As a coach and athletic director at Orchard Lake St. Mary’s over nearly three decades, George Porritt has been asked plenty of times to recall details from his football program’s storied past.

That comes with coaching a program that annually has a roster full of highly-touted high school players coveted by college recruiters and has seen the best not only shine for prominent college programs but also NFL organizations (see Allen Robinson of Jacksonville).

“When was the last time a player did that?”

“What is the school record in this category?”

“How often has your team done this in a season?”

“When was the last time you lost to this opponent?”

Porritt’s answer is usually quick and consistent.

“Ask Robin Goddard,” Porritt typically says.

For the past 40 years, turning to Goddard has been a frequent option for anyone around St. Mary’s, and for that matter, other schools around the state.

It is why there will be lots of people in the prep sports community thinking of him when he has surgery on Thursday to break up kidney stones that have been bothering him during recent weeks.

Goddard each year puts together media guides with records and teams at St. Mary’s that go all the way back to the early 1900s. (See "Michigan's Football Past: A Must Read")

He can easily point out the fact that St. Mary’s won a state basketball championship in 1933, lost in the state basketball semifinals in 1919 and won its first state baseball championship in 1913. (Note: The MHSAA was not formed until Dec. 1924; previous championship tournaments were hosted by various entities around the state.) 

“If he doesn’t have it in something, he finds it right away,” Porritt said. “He goes to the library and he tries to dig it up. He calls the other school and has done it for years. He keeps a great history of our school.”

Surely though, there have to be times when people raise their eyebrows at Goddard and wonder how he can possibly get accurate information from a century ago, right?

Actually, not really.

Not around St. Mary’s, anyway, even if it is hard to fathom for many others that high school sports in Michigan actually did exist before the start of World War I.

“I won’t even challenge him,” Porritt said. “I know he found it somewhere. He’ll tell other schools what their records are historically, and they don’t even know what theirs is. He has fun doing it and will go anywhere and find any way to find out the history of whatever he is looking into.”

Goddard’s importance to the school isn’t limited to being arguably the Encyclopedia Britannica of prep sports in the state of Michigan.

Also a facilities coordinator and valuable fundraiser, Goddard has spearheaded projects to put a track and lights at the football field, and was the architect of one of the most ambitious and out-of-box ideas ever seen at the school – the red artificial playing surface now on the football field.

During Labor Day weekend in 2011, Goddard flew to Cheney, Wash., to meet with officials at Eastern Washington University, which at the time had the only red-colored artificial football field in the country.

Goddard picked the brains of the folks at Eastern Washington, came home and started a fundraising effort to try and secure $600,000 to bring a red-colored artificial surface to St. Mary’s.

By the following spring, the funds were raised and construction began on the field that was ready by the start of the 2012 season.

At the time, it was the third red-colored field in the country in addition to Eastern Washington and a high school field at Canyon High School in Texas.

Goddard also helped start the annual Polish Country Fair that takes place on the St. Mary’s campus every Memorial Day weekend, which is one of the most regularly-attended festivals in the Detroit area.

Len Karschnia, an administrator and assistant coach for the both the football and basketball teams at St. Mary’s, said when Goddard gets in touch with alums who have the means to donate back to the school, there usually is no hesitation because of their respect for Goddard.

“They always trust Robin to do that,” Karschnia said. “Everything he does (is) for the kids and the school, and that is why nobody is really reticent to give back to any projects that he runs because if he tells you on Tuesday he wants $500 to put up a banner in the gym, on Thursday the banner is up and done and there is a plaque on the wall saying thanks to whoever gave it to him.”

A staple at the school since he arrived in 1976, there obviously will be a lot of prayers and well-wishes around the state for a speedy recovery from surgery.

“He is a guy that whatever St. Mary’s needs, he’ll do it and he doesn’t need any fanfare for his good deeds,” Karschnia said. “It’s all for the kids, for George and for the school. That is really his value.”

PHOTOS: (Top) Orchard Lake St. Mary's takes on Detroit Cass Tech on its home red turf in 2012. (Middle) Tucked away in the McLane Stadium bleachers, Robin Goddard watches the Eaglets' run to the 2015 Division 2 baseball championship. (Top photo by Terry McNamara.)

Mendon 8-Player Championship Game Run Paced by Record-Setting Rushing

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

May 26, 2023

Mendon’s run to the Division 2 Final last fall included some of the strongest rushing performances over the history of 8-player football.

The Hornets ran for 4,317 yards, second-most all-time, on the second-most attempts (520) and with a record-setting 682 yards Oct. 14 against Marcellus. Mendon also set the record for total offense with 692 total in that game, and made the single-season touchdowns list with 76 including 66 rushing (also second on that list).

Junior Jack McCaw made the single-season scoring list with 212 points, most coming on 29 touchdowns, and Evan Lukeman made the single-game rushing list with 401 yards against Marcellus. Mendon’s defense also earned praise, twice making the fewest-first-downs-allowed list with a low of three.

See below for more recent additions to the 8-player portion of the football record book:

8-Player Football

Athens’ Landon Bennett earned a pair of record book entries after reaching the end zone seven times during his team’s 72-0 win over Burr Oak on Sept. 8. His seven scores are tied for third-most in 8-player history and included three rushing, three on punt returns and one on an interception return. The three punt return touchdowns are a record. Bennett is a junior.

On the night Powers North Central broke its 8-player record for consecutive wins, claiming its 28th straight, senior Luke Gorzinski tied Jets great Jason Whitens for the record for interception touchdowns in a game with two, scoring on returns during the second and fourth quarters. Gorzinski has signed with Michigan Tech, and North Central’s winning streak is 37 games and counting.

A pair of Atlanta offensive playmakers and a top defensive lineman earned a total of seven entries in the record book for achievements last fall. Senior quarterback Tyler Currie threw for 30 touchdowns over eight games, and also made the records for six touchdowns and 419 passing yards against Whittemore-Prescott on Sept. 23; the passing yards are second-most for one 8-player game. Sophomore Landon Galea was added for 263 yards and five of those touchdowns against the Cardinals, and also for 1,418 yards receiving and 23 touchdowns over nine games. Junior teammate Tucker Kendrick made the tackles for loss list with five against Hillman on Oct. 6.

Adrian Lenawee Christian senior Brady McKelvey became the first to make the career extra points list in 8-player football this past fall. He bettered his previous single-season record making 64 of 66 extra-point attempts over 11 games and finishing his two-year varsity career with 123 extra points in 127 tries.

Sam McKissack reached the record book showcasing multiple skills for Crystal Falls Forest Park during the 2021 season – twice for rushing attempts in a game including with a record 59 against Ontonagon that Sept. 10, and then with a record 70-yard punt Oct. 30, 2021, against Lake Linden-Hubbell. Teammate Devon Basirico also made the record book with six fumble recoveries over 11 games that season. As a team, Forest Park was added twice for single-game rushing attempts – including 73 total in that Ontonagon game – and for 424 rushes over 11 games for the season. McKissack and Basirico are seniors this spring.

Nikolaus Lewis tied for eighth-most rushing touchdowns in an 8-player game when he reached the end zone six times for Carsonville-Port Sanilac in its win over Caseville on Oct. 7. He’s a senior this spring.

Bridgman has won 24 straight games over the last three seasons, and an exceptional offense – and exceptional offensive star – have played major roles. The Bees were added for 658 total yards in a win over Lawrence last season, that total ranking third all-time, and also 613 yards in a win over Eau Claire. Those included totals of 575 and 547 rushing yards, respectively, and Bridgman was added for 3,598 rushing yards (sixth on the list), 59 rushing touchdowns (fourth) and 76 total touchdowns (seventh). Senior Reid Haskins capped his four-year, 32-game varsity career with 13 record book entries, including for 254 points last season over nine games (tied for fifth all-time) and a record 620 career points, 41 touchdowns last season (fifth) and a record 95 for his career, 2,344 rushing yards last season (third) and a record 5,206 for his career, and 41 rushing touchdowns last season (third) and a record 94 for his career. Senior teammate Tanner Peters made the records three times including for 50 extra points last season (fourth) and 99 over 26 games and three seasons (second on the career list).

Mio's Austin Fox rewrote the 8-player passing record book this past fall, with his 621 yards in a game against Whittemore-Prescott setting a single-game record as he totaled four of the five-highest passing yardage totals. He also set a record with 3,516 over nine games for the season, another record with 289 passing attempts over those nine games and a third record for nine touchdown passes in that game against the Cardinals. His 41 touchdown passes total rank fourth. Teammates Gage Long and Nathan Hurst also earned several record book entries on the receiving end of those passes. Long’s 297 receiving yards against Whittemore-Prescott were tied for third most, and Hurst’s 266 against Alcona rank eighth. Long set a single-season record with 1,739 receiving yards, with Hurst sixth all-time at 1,321, and Long’s 14 receptions against the Cardinals and 70 for the season also rank second on those respective lists. Hurst set a record for longest 8-player kickoff return with a 99-yarder against St. Helen Charlton Heston. All three are seniors.

Peck was one of the first MHSAA 8-player champions, claiming the title in 2013, and Cody Abrego one of the state’s first 8-player stars. The Pirates were added to the MHSAA record book 52 times, and Abrego 14 times individually. Among the most notable entries for the 2015 graduate were for 462 points scored over his two-season career (ranking sixth all-time), 74 career touchdowns (sixth), 2,202 rushing yards in 2013 (fifth) and 35 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (sixth). Current senior Caleb Lentner was one of the stars statewide this past season, and he was added eight times including for 50 points scored in a game (ranking second), 272 points for a season last fall (fifth), eight touchdowns in a game (tied for second), 42 touchdowns in a season (fifth), an 8-player record of 2,694 rushing yards from last season, and 38 rushing touchdowns also last fall (fourth). Others to make the individual lists were Nathan Robar, Caleb Dudley, Steven VanConant, Kyle Abrego and Nathan Neihaus, Dudley for a record 20 career interceptions over two seasons and VanConant for a record 12 tackles for loss in a 2022 game and 36 tackles for loss for the season last fall. The Pirates also are all over the 8-player team record book, including for a record 97 touchdowns in 2013, a record 5,895 yards of total offense that season, 528 carries, 4,346 rushing yards and 73 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (all ranking second); and 24 interceptions in 2014, which ranks second on that list.

Senior quarterback JR Hildebrand was one of the most dynamic players in 8-player football in the fall in leading Martin to the Division 1 title. He had one of his most exciting nights in a playoff opener against Tekonsha, making the single-game touchdown pass list with six in a 68-6 victory.

PHOTO Mendon’s Jack McCaw (21) eludes a tackle during the 8-Player Division 2 Final in November at Northern Michigan University. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)