'Difference-Maker' Drogowski Returns to Bolster Lenawee Christian Title March

By Doug Donnelly
Special for MHSAA.com

November 7, 2023

Blake Drogowski was given a deadline. He missed it. 

Southeast & BorderHe also missed football.  

The Adrian Lenawee Christian senior skipped his junior year of football while recovering from a foot injury that occurred during his sophomore season, and he was unsure if he’d come back and play as a senior. He participated in summer weightlifting sessions and workouts but was still hesitant to put the shoulder pads back on. 

“After my foot injury, and I was in the process of healing, I kind of lost my love for football,” Drogowski said.  

What he calls the brotherhood at Lenawee Christian brought him back to the game. 

“Coach (Bill Wilharms) sort of gave me a deadline,” Drogowski said. “Some of my teammates tried talking me into it. I wasn’t sure. I think I missed the deadline by a couple of days. A couple of weeks before the season, I was like, ‘I might as well.’” 

Now, 11 weeks into this season, Drogowski is playing at a high level and is one of the reasons Lenawee Christian is in hot pursuit of a third 8-player championship over the last four years. LCS hosts Deckerville on Saturday in one of the Division 2 Semifinals. 

“We’ve been saving him all season,” Wilharms said. “He’s so fast. We kind of turned him loose in the Pittsford game and then again against Kingston. He’s been just coming along, coming along. He’s come back and worked so hard in the weight room. He is a difference maker.” 

Drogowski turns upfield during a big gain.LCS has several difference-makers, which is what has led the Cougars to be ranked No. 1 in most of the polls this season.  

The success starts with Wilharms, who has built a powerhouse football program. In the first playoff game two weeks ago, Wilharms earned career coaching win No. 100, counting 12 at Adrian Madison and 88 at LCS. To celebrate, several members of the LCS volleyball team dressed as Wilharms for the game. 

“That was fun,” Wilharms said. “It was a total surprise. I didn’t know I was at 100.” 

On the field, LCS is led by its field general, Sam Lutz. A senior, Lutz has accounted for 52 touchdowns – 24 rushing and 28 passing. He’s nearing 1,000 yards on the ground and is well over 1,500 yards through the air. 

“We’re just out here to do our jobs,” Lutz said. “This team is like a family to me. We are really rolling right now.” 

Up front, Tyler Salenbien has had a tremendous season at center, leading an outstanding line. On the outside, several backs and receivers rotate. Brenner Powers has more than 500 yards rushing and 250 yards passing. Easton Boggs, Paul Towler and Jesse Miller have all had big games on offense.  

Wilharms makes most of the offensive calls from the sidelines as the players turn to him and await the call. He’s not afraid to draw up plays on the fly. That happened once during the Regional Final win last weekend over previously-unbeaten Climax-Scotts. 

The play ended up being a touchdown run by Lutz. 

“That one, honestly, we drew it up while we were standing here,” Wilharms said. “They were overplaying him on one side, so we drew it up a different way. I’m not sure we even have practiced that, but it worked.” 

Wilharms utilizes all his weapons throughout a game, rarely relying on one player to do everything. 

“Ever since I’ve got here the kids have just bought into it,” Wilharms said. “We have a lot of weapons.” 

LCS coach Bill Wilharms earned his 100th career win during this playoffs.The 2023 Cougars remind Wilharms of his 2021 championship team. 

“They remind me of the second state championship team because of the fact they are a fun-loving group who can have fun but then turn it on when they need to in games,” Wilharms said.  

Drogowski’s road to becoming one of those weapons was a difficult one. As a freshman he was on the LCS junior varsity team before getting called up to the varsity. He was dressed and on the sidelines when the Cougars won their first Finals title. 

As a sophomore, he was playing before a season-ending injury occurred in Week 4 against Athens. He tore a ligament. 

“It was one of the last plays of the game, too,” he said. “It was an option play, and the quarterback pitched me the ball and it was just kind of the way I came down; it tore.” 

His season was over, but he was still on the roster for the second Cougars title. 

“I can see some of that team in this year’s team, how we all play for each other,” Drogowski said. 

His junior year, he never came out for the team. With backing from his teammates, however, he has returned. It took some time to get used to being on the gridiron again. 

“I missed the brotherhood and being part of everything,” he said. “It’s great being part of the team. I just love all these guys so much.”

Doug DonnellyDoug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Adrian Lenawee Christian’s Blake Drogowski (7) and Sam Lutz enjoy a moment during a game this season. (Middle) Drogowski turns upfield during a big gain. (Below) LCS coach Bill Wilharms earned his 100th career win during this playoffs. (Photos by Deloris Clark-Osborne.)

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.