Constantine Comeback Gets Running Start

By Wes Morgan
Special for

September 6, 2018

Shawn Griffith is fully aware of the fact he’s now coached fathers and sons, uncles and nephews during his tenure at Constantine High School.

That doesn’t make him old, he says; it just means he’s “seasoned.”

It also means he’s now been around long enough to experience both the highs and lows of coaching. Traditionally one of the state’s small-school powerhouses, Constantine lost its way in 2017 with a 3-6 record — Griffith’s first losing season since taking over the program in 2007 and the school’s first sub-.500 season in 26 years.

With a pair of Division 6 championship game appearances (2011 and 2012) and a 114-36 overall record to his credit, last autumn’s fall from grace, though somewhat expected, he said, was a reminder that high school sports still have a cyclical nature.

Attrition, inexperience, lower participation numbers, defensive struggles and fractured team chemistry all attributed to the disappointing season. Still, the Falcons were four points away from five wins, which likely would have been enough to qualify for the playoffs. With a 5-4 regular-season record back in 2013, Constantine went on to advance to the Regional Finals, underscoring Griffith’s mantra of improving each week and what can be accomplished by doing so.

“We knew last year we were going to go through some growing pains,” Griffith said. “I think the 3-6 thing really helped these guys focus in the offseason, and they have done a great job coming together.”

Now the Falcons, 2-0 this year after blowout victories against Gobles (56-0) and Quincy (42-7), are out to reclaim their seat at the table, with expectations just as high as they’ve always been. A few players only need to look at their family trees to be reminded of what’s possible.

Senior fullback Brendon Schragg in particular has a bloodline that traces back to the most memorable year in Constantine football history, as his uncles literally carried the Falcons to their only MHSAA football championship.

With Griffith then serving as offensive coordinator in 2004 — just the second season after he transitioned the offense from an I-Formation to the Wing-T — senior twins Jim and Mike Schragg lined up in the backfield for the Falcons and combined for nearly 3,800 rushing yards, fueling the team’s title run and 13-1 record.

Mike Schragg, a tailback, rushed for more than 100 yards in the championship game against Suttons Bay, a 34-13 Constantine victory. But it was fullback Jim Schragg’s legendary effort that put him atop the MHSAA record book list for yards in a Final after he went for 307, including an 89-yard run.

“We were loaded with backs,” Jim Schragg said. “It’s a fun offense to run. Some parents get ticked off that we don’t throw it enough, but you have three bad things that can happen with a pass and not too many bad things can happen with a run.

“It’s cool to have your name there with the record and all that. But the state championship is more important to me than the record and running for over 300 yards. The state finals was the whole goal for our senior class. It was state championship or bust. That was what every single kid played for on that team.”

Some things haven’t changed. Though going from a three-win season to a state title is extremely unlikely, Brendon Schragg and his teammates believe they can put together a pretty special year.

“They were superstars to me,” Schragg, who rushed for 575 yards and five touchdowns as a junior, said of his uncles. “I always had the dream that if you go to state, I want to go to state. That’s been a goal since I was 4 years old.

“In my opinion, come Week 5 when we start our (Southwestern Athletic Conference) games, I think we are going to come out and compete. There isn’t a doubt in my mind we can’t win a league title. I ask myself a question every day, ‘Why not us?’”

Brendon Schragg is a three-year starter and one of three returning backs this season. The Falcons haven’t needed complete games out of the trio in the victories so far this year, but Schragg has 145 yards and two TDs on 14 carries. He and teammates Hunter Lindbert and Josh Lawson will probably split the load the rest of the season. Lindbert has compiled 188 yards and 4 TDs on 14 carries, and Lawson has 235 yards and two TDs on 18 carries.

Of course, none of it would be possible without the big guys up front.

“We’re just more physical in the trenches this year,” Schragg said of linemen such as Trenton Stears, Marquise Wykle, Matt Hutton and Austin Loose. “Hutton, our center, both his uncles played on the state championship team, believe it or not.”

Part of Griffith’s job is to both encourage his players to shoot for the moon and to make sure they also have their feet firmly planted on the ground. He certainly understands there are challenges ahead with teams like Kalamazoo United, Watervliet and Schoolcraft.

“We look a lot better,” he said. “But we’re certainly not naïve; we see some pretty darn good football teams on our schedule here coming up. I think our guys have done a real good job of not blowing this out of proportion. It is what it is; it’s a good start. They have done a good job of concentrating and preparing week to week.”

Wes Morgan has reported for the Kalamazoo Gazette, ESPN and, 247Sports and Blue & Gold Illustrated over the last 12 years and is the publisher of He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Constantine defensive players motion for a turnover during their win over Gobles in Week 1. (Middle) Brendon Schragg, far left, breaks through the Gobles defense. (Photos courtesy of

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

By Geoff Kimmerly 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.