'D' Propels Centreville to 1st Finals Win

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

January 22, 2021

DETROIT – It didn’t take long Friday for the Centreville defense to prove its season statistics were no fluke. 

The Bulldogs stuffed Ubly on a 4th-and-short at midfield on the first possession of the MHSAA Division 8 Football Final, setting the tone for a dominant performance in their 22-0 victory at Ford Field. 

“The defense played hard today,” Centreville senior defensive end and fullback Jared Spencer said. “I think we went all out – our seniors went all out just because it was our last game. Our first time making it to state, so I just think our defense, we were ready for the game.” 

The title is the first for the Bulldogs (11-0), who had never won a District title in the sport prior to this season. While it didn’t look like it to those observing, coach Jerry Schultz said the nerves were certainly there pregame. 

“If they’re going to say (they weren’t nervous), then they’re lying,” said Schultz, who is in his first year leading the program. “I could see it on their faces that they were nervous, especially this morning. That’s why we got on the field so early … we went and ran routes, I wanted them to just throw the ball around. As we told them, it’s 100 yards. Even I walked out here – I've never been here before, I’m actually a Packer fan – but just walking out here, it’s awesome.”  

The 11 wins are a school record, despite the regular season being shortened by three games. The program was in the postseason for the third straight year, but just the seventh in school history. 

“All the offseason work in the weight room and all the conditioning – everything that we had done since we were freshmen, it’s the best feeling to have to come in as a senior (and win) with this group of guys,” senior quarterback and safety Sam Todd said. “So, coming out on top as a senior, it doesn’t get better than that.” 

Centreville was dominant throughout the year, with only two of the 10 games it played – its Semifinal was won by forfeit over Clarkston Everest Collegiate – being decided by single digits. That effort was led by a defense that had seven shutouts and allowed 29 points on the season. 

“Just buying into the defense,” Spencer said when asked to explain the success. “It’s been the same defense since (defensive coordinator Trevor Haas) has been here. We’ve had the same players since freshman year, so I think we just had that bond to keep it tight.” 

The Bulldogs held Ubly (9-3) to 142 yards of total offense, but 103 of those came on second half possessions when they had already built a 22-0 lead. Ubly was held to 24 yards in the first half, and didn’t record a first down until there was 3:54 to play in the third quarter. 

Jacob Spencer led the Bulldogs defense with 10 tackles, while Ethan Brownridge had seven. Tristan McElroy had an interception in the end zone, which ended Ubly’s best drive of the day. 

“One thing that they do is they have that angle front,” Ubly coach Eric Sweeney said. “Four years ago, (former Centreville coach) Tyler Langs coached at (Unionville-Sebewaing) and they’re still running his defense. So, it’s not something we haven’t seen, but we knew it was going to be tough because when you’re trying to run a trap and they’re angling those guys up front, you have to do some different things. They flew to the ball. Their linebackers came downfield. It was nothing we didn’t expect, but I kind of thought we’d block it better, but we didn’t. I thought they played incredible defense.” 

When the Centreville defense wasn’t on the field stifling the Bearcats, the offense was giving it plenty of rest. The Bulldogs’ ball-control attack chewed up clock, with nearly 30 minutes of possession to Ubly’s 18. They ran the ball 42 times for 156 yards, and made big plays in the passing game when needed, as Todd was 6-for-7 for 130 yards and a pair of touchdowns, both to junior receiver Tyler Swanwick.  

Todd also led the Centreville rushing attack with 70 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.  

“I think our biggest problem like I was saying before, we like to play ball-control offense, and that’s what they did,” Sweeney said. “When they needed a big play, they got it. When we only run 10 plays in the first half, that’s not ball-control offense. Personally, I thought our defense played very well, but our defense never got rest, because we played bad offense. We knew (Todd) was an excellent football player. There were no surprises there.” 

Todd’s first score came on a 1-yard run midway through the second quarter. The fourth-down play was nearly blown up in the backfield, but Jared Spencer had a big block to help his quarterback get the edge. 

Swanwick made a pair of big plays on the second scoring drive, catching a deflected pass for a 31-yard gain, setting his team up at the 20-yard line with nine seconds to play in the half. On the next play, Todd found his top target with a well-thrown jump ball in the end zone, and the Bulldogs took a 16-0 lead into the half. 

The Bulldogs all but put the game away with their first drive of the third quarter, eating up 7:46 on the clock, and finishing the drive off with a 12-yard pass from Todd to Swanwick. 

Carson Heleski led the Bearcats in his final game, recording 16 tackles, including 1.5 for loss. He also had a team-high 67 rushing yards.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Centreville defenders swarm around Ubly running back Mark Hellig during Friday’s Division 8 Final. (Middle) Centreville’s Tyler Swanwick pulls in one of his two touchdown catches. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

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.