Drive for Detroit: 11-Player Semis Review

November 25, 2019

By Geoff Kimmerly
Special for Second Half

Buckle up. We’re headed for the home stretch.

The final 16 contenders for this season’s MHSAA 11-player football championships were set over the weekend, and Detroit on Friday and Saturday will be the final stop to conclude another memorable season.

Below we discuss all 16 Semifinals just a bit, with more detailed previews of the championship games coming out Wednesday. We’ll also include this past weekend’s 8-Player Finals – congratulations to first-time champions Colon and Pickford! – when we wrap up our review of the MHSAA Football Finals as a whole next week.

“Drive for Detroit” is powered by MI Student Aid

Division 1

Brighton 22, Belleville 19

The Bulldogs (11-2) will play in their first MHSAA Final in football, while Belleville ended its season in the Semifinals for the second-straight year. Brighton scored with under a minute left to earn the first championship game trip, and also held Belleville (12-1) to its fewest points scored this season. Click for more from the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.

Davison 34, Sterling Heights Stevenson 27 (OT)

The Cardinals (11-2) also will play in their first MHSAA football championship game after outlasting Stevenson. Davison, playing its first Semifinal since 2008, trailed throughout but caught up before the end of regulation and then made a stop in overtime to finish the comeback. The Titans (8-5) had made the playoffs as an additional qualifier before reaching their first Semifinal since 2009. Click for more from the Flint Journal.

Division 2

Muskegon Mona Shores 57, Walled Lake Western 56

The reigning Division 2 runner-up Sailors (11-2) booked their return to Ford Field with a touchdown with 17 seconds to play followed by a go-ahead 2-point conversion instead of kicking an extra point – making back-up quarterback Brady Rose one of the biggest stars of the weekend. Walled Lake Western (11-2) was playing in its fourth Semifinal this decade and tied its most points scored in a game this fall. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

Detroit Martin Luther King 60, Birmingham Seaholm 17

The Crusaders (11-2) will play for a second-straight MHSAA Finals championship to follow up last season’s won in Division 3. The reached 60 points for the first time since Week 5 of 2017 and held Seaholm (9-4) to nearly 20 points before its average. The Maples were playing in their first Semifinal since 1997. Click for more from MLive-Detroit.

Division 3

Muskegon 28, DeWitt 21

The Big Reds (13-0) outlasted DeWitt in their only playoff games decided by fewer than 38 points, and one of only two games they played decided by single digits this fall. Last season’s Division 3 runner-up, Muskegon went ahead to stay with just more than two minutes remaining and held off a final rally by the Panthers (10-3), who were playing in their fifth Semifinal this decade. Click for more from the Muskegon Chronicle.

River Rouge 14, Chelsea 7

The Panthers (12-1) likewise received their toughest challenge of the playoffs, as Chelsea gave them one of only three games decided by single digits this season. River Rouge scored both of its touchdowns during the fourth quarter after Chelsea (12-1) led for a quarter and a half. The Bulldogs were trying for their second-straight trip to the Finals after finishing Division 4 runner-up a year ago. Click for more from the Detroit News.

Division 4

Grand Rapids Catholic Central 56, Hudsonville Unity Christian 17

The Cougars (12-1) will play for their third Division 4 championship in four years after eliminating last season’s Division 5 title winner, Unity (9-4). It was the seventh time these teams met in the playoffs this decade, and fifth time the result went GRCC’s way. The Cougars scored their most points this season in earning the trip to Detroit. Click for more from the Grand Rapids Press.

Detroit Country Day 21, Flint Powers Catholic 0

Country Day (13-0) will return to Ford Field for the first time since 2016 (when it also faced GRCC) after posting its fourth shutout this season. It’s easy to marvel at the Yellowjackets’ defense, which is now giving up just 5.2 points per game. Powers (10-3) was playing in its third Semifinal this decade and capped its best run since 2015. Click for more from the Oakland Press.

Division 5

Lansing Catholic 28, Kingsley 14

The Cougars (12-1) are known for offense, but headed to Ford Field for the first time since 2014 as much thanks to a defensive effort that held Kingsley (12-1) nearly 32 points below its season average. Lansing Catholic is giving up only 13 points per game. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Almont 36, Detroit Denby 8

In its third Semifinal this decade, Almont (13-0) advanced to its first football championship game also with another outstanding defensive performance. The Raiders lowered their points-given-up average to 10 with their best showing of the playoffs, halting Denby’s longest playoff run and most successful season at 10-3.

Division 6

Maple City Glen Lake 31, Montague 30 (OT)

The Lakers (12-1) are headed to their second MHSAA Final in four seasons thanks to a mighty comeback against last season’s Division 6 runner-up. Glen Lake trailed by 14 with under five minutes left in regulation, but pushed the game to overtime with a touchdown pass on the last play of the fourth quarter. Montague (10-3) finished with three losses this fall by a combined 13 points. Click for more from the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central 17, Onsted 14

St. Mary will play in its third Final this decade and first since winning Division 6 in 2014 thanks to Wyatt Bergmoser’s 20-yard field goal on the game’s final play. The Falcons (11-1) held off an Onsted team that finished 10-3 and rallied after a 2-2 start to reach the Semifinals for the first time since 1993. The close win for SMCC came after its last two playoff runs ended in Regional Final losses by two and one point. Click for more from the Monroe News.

Division 7

Pewamo-Westphalia 43, Iron Mountain 7

Friday night at the Superior Dome at Northern Michigan University saw two undefeated teams meet and P-W (13-0) earn its fourth trip to Ford Field over the last five seasons. After giving up 35 points to reigning champ New Lothrop in a one-point win the week before, the Pirates’ defense bounced back to hold the Mountaineers (12-1) to their season low. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Jackson Lumen Christi 27, Cass City 0

Lumen Christi scored one point less than Cass City had given up over the last 10 weeks combined, finding enough openings against one of the state’s most accomplished defenses to reach a fourth-straight Final. The Titans (12-0) also posted their second shutout of the fall, like P-W bouncing back on that side of the ball after giving up 30 in a Regional Final. Cass City finished 11-2 in reaching the Semifinals for the first time. Click for more from the Jackson Citizen-Patriot.

Division 8

Beal City 21, Ubly 20

The Aggies (12-1) came back from an early 14-0 deficit to edge Ubly and reach the MHSAA Finals for the first time since back-to-back trips in 2012 and 2013. The Bearcats went for the win after a last-minute score, but Beal City made a stop on the conversion and again after Ubly (10-3) recovered the ensuing onside kick. Click for more from the Mount Pleasant Morning Sun.

Reading 62, Fowler 18

The reigning champ has earned an opportunity to repeat, as Reading (12-1) put up 60 points for the third time this season and held the Eagles scoreless during the second half. Fowler, playing in its first Semifinal since 2011, finished with its best record since that fall at 11-2. Click for more from the Hillsdale Daily News.

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PHOTO: Detroit King's Terence Maize (99) wraps up Birmingham Seaholm's Chaz Strecker during the Crusaders' Division 2 Semifinal win Saturday. (Photo by Terry Lyons.)

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.