Drogosh Closing Career of Unforgettable Impact on De La Salle Football

By Keith Dunlap
Special for MHSAA.com

November 23, 2022

Dan Rohn admitted that the thought started to “hit me a little bit” on Tuesday. 

Greater DetroitRohn, the head football coach and athletic director at Warren De La Salle Collegiate, is obviously trying to focus entirely on Friday’s Division 2 championship game against Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central.

However, this week it has started to strike him that pretty soon, he’s going to have to get used to life without senior quarterback Brady Drogosh. 

From the moment Drogosh started school at De La Salle as a freshman, Rohn said he has been “my quarterback,” having constant meetings in his office before school and texting countlessly throughout the day about school, football and life in general.

“We do this to build relationships with kids, and I’ve got a pretty special one with Brady Drogosh,” Rohn said. 

And make no doubt, Drogosh will be a hard one for even a power like De La Salle to replace. 

In three years as a starter, Drogosh has accumulated 7,784 yards of total offense – 3,152 rushing yards, 4,632 passing yards – and 98 total touchdowns (46 rushing, 56 passing). 

This season, the 6-foot-5, 200-pound Drogosh has run for 1,188 yards and 17 touchdowns and completed 119-of-179 passes for 2,015 yards and 33 touchdowns – that 33 amounting to 10 more than he had his sophomore and junior seasons combined. 

“Brady is that level, where if anything is going wrong, I don’t have to tell him now when he comes off of the field because he knows,” Rohn said. “That’s how you can tell someone has arrived.”

Drogosh will be making his third-straight start for De La Salle in a Final, and the seeds for his great high school career were planted through failure in his first at Ford Field as a sophomore. 

In a 25-19 loss to Muskegon Mona Shores, Drogosh struggled in his start and was benched in the second half.

“He struggled, and he’ll openly admit that he didn’t have full grasp of the situation,” Rohn said. “It was definitely a learning moment for Brady.” 

As painful as it was, it also lit a fire in him.

“I know as I was walking off of the field, I turned to two of my sophomores saying I don’t want to feel like this again,” Drogosh said. “I think that was the fuel for me.”

Pilots assistant coach Karl Featherstone, right, brings a smile to Drogosh’s face. Indeed, as Drogosh had an outstanding junior year which culminated in De La Salle defeating Traverse City Central in last year’s Division 2 Final, 41-14. 

Then came the offseason, when Drogosh started his journey to becoming miles better as a senior. 

He flew to California and participated in the Elite 11 quarterback competition, where he competed with some of the country’s best quarterbacks and learned under camp counselors who are some of the best college quarterbacks in the nation this year, including Alabama’s Bryce Young, USC’s Caleb Williams and UCLA’s Dorian Thompson-Robinson. 

“You had three Heisman candidates there, so might as well learn anything you can,” Drogosh said. 

An elite rusher last year, Drogosh has skyrocketed his career passing totals, becoming what Rohn dubbed as a “true dual-threat quarterback.”

“I definitely think my decision-making and accuracy has been better,” Drogosh said. 

Not only does Drogosh not have much time left as a high school football player, he also doesn’t have much time remaining as a student in general.

Drogosh will sign in December to play at University of Cincinnati and become an early enrollee starting classes Jan. 7.

Rohn said throughout the recruitment process with Drogosh, college coaches said the No. 1 thing about him they were worried about was his throwing mechanics. But Rohn feels Drogosh being around a full-time quarterback coach in college will rectify any of those concerns.

“Him focusing on someone who can work with him 1-on-1 and develop his mechanics, I think he’s really going to take off,” Rohn said. 

Also a member of De La Salle’s Division 1 championship basketball team last year, Drogosh will forgo the upcoming basketball season.

A 4.0 student, Drogosh said he’ll be able to come back in the spring for the school’s graduation ceremony and walk the stage with his classmates, but his official graduation party will come on Dec. 21 when he officially signs with the Bearcats. 

“There will be a graduation party,” Drogosh said with a laugh, adding teammate Mason Muragin, an Illinois commit, also will participate in the festivities. 

But before that, Drogosh and De La Salle are fully focused on pursuing a repeat championship against Forest Hills Central.

There will be plenty of time for career reflection and lifelong relationships made afterwards.

But no doubt, when Friday comes and goes, one of the biggest sentiments of all will be that it’s going to be awfully hard to replace Brady Drogosh. 

Keith DunlapKeith Dunlap has served in Detroit-area sports media for more than two decades, including as a sportswriter at the Oakland Press from 2001-16 primarily covering high school sports but also college and professional teams. His bylines also have appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Detroit Free Press, the Houston Chronicle and the Boston Globe. He served as the administrator for the Oakland Activities Association’s website from 2017-2020. Contact him at [email protected] with story ideas for Oakland, Macomb and Wayne counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Warren De La Salle quarterback Brady Drogosh (12) pulls away from a Traverse City Central defender during last season’s Division 2 Final. (Middle) Pilots assistant coach Karl Featherstone, right, brings a smile to Drogosh’s face.

Constantine Football All-Stater, Wrestling Champ Aiming for Grand Finale

By Scott Hassinger
Special for MHSAA.com

April 30, 2024

CONSTANTINE – Bennett VandenBerg has earned many accolades over the last four years as a three-sport athlete at Constantine.

Southwest CorridorBut the awards aren't what the 6-foot-3, 240-pound standout will remember most when reflecting on his memories as an all-state football player, state champion wrestler and record-breaking throwing specialist on the Falcons' track & field squad.

"I'll remember how I represented our school and pushed myself to be the best I could be in each sport that I played," said VandenBerg, who has earned 12 varsity letters.

VandenBerg has evolved into one of the most accomplished athletes in the state this school year as a senior, especially standing out among those from smaller communities.

This past fall he was named first-team Division 5-6 all-state at defensive end in football before winning the Division 3 Individual Finals wrestling title at 285 pounds in early March at Ford Field.

VandenBerg's final goal is to win the discus title at the Lower Peninsula Division 3 Finals on Saturday, June 1, in Kent City to end his Constantine career all-state in all three sports.

He broke the school record in the discus his junior year with a throw of 158 feet, 1 inch; the previous mark of 156-6 had been held by Doug Polasek since 1986. VandenBerg has eclipsed his school record twice this spring, most recently with a personal-best toss of 170-9 in a Southwestern Athletic Conference double dual meet with Schoolcraft and Kalamazoo Christian. He ranks No. 4 statewide in the event regardless of enrollment division. Lawton junior Mason Mayne at 175-4 is the only Division 3 competitor with a better throw than VandenBerg.

"It's really cool to have your name up on the school record board, but I'd like to make that mark more untouchable before I'm done," VandenBerg said. "My goal is to be a state discus champion. I've put in the necessary work for it. It would be nice to end my career that way."

Kyle Rimer, Constantine's veteran boys track & field coach, is most impressed with VandenBerg's leadership and presence in working with the Falcons' younger athletes.

VandenBerg, top position, battles Wyatt Spalo in their Division championship wrestling match at 285 pounds in March at Ford Field. "Bennett loves to compete. Ever since he was a freshman, we've also had him on our 400-meter relay team. That's something he really enjoys doing. He's not just a thrower, but a good overall athlete with lots of drive,” Rimer said. “There's a lot of individuality in track & field, but I think he does a great job of leading the younger kids. He has the drive, accountability and technique to achieve his goal of being a state champion in his throwing events.”

VandenBerg is already a two-time Finals placer in the discus, earning sixth as a junior and seventh his sophomore year. He admits being a little disappointed with his distance at the 2023 state meet.

"In that particular event (discus) you need lots of focus and determination because there are a ton of tiny things you can mess up on that affect your throw. To become better you need to be consistent, show up every day and be willing to put in the work," VandenBerg said. "Right now I'm working on my speed in the circle and quickness in my follow-through."

VandenBerg also has been pleased with his improvement this spring in the shot put. He's increased his distance by over five feet and hopes to break the school record in that event as well. John Kampars (1967) holds Constantine's shot put record at 54-8¼, and VandenBerg's personal best is 48-10 in a double-dual meet this season against Parchment and Centreville.

"Shot put is a difficult event. You need power, but your form has to be top-notch – otherwise it's tough to move that 12-pound ball," VandenBerg said. "I would love to qualify for state in both the discus and shot put and be all-state in each. That would be amazing if I could be a state champion in either of those events."

VandenBerg has put in extra work in the offseason with special instruction from Bill Griffey of Next Throw in Plainwell, along with working with Constantine assistant track & field and head football coach Shawn Griffith.

"Bennett puts a lot of time into working on his throwing. He spends a lot of time in the weight room, and he's a bigger kid who is not afraid to be coached and listens to what other people tell him," Griffith said. "We're excited to see what he can do now that we've had warmer weather recently."

VandenBerg (34) carries the football during a 2023 regular-season home game against Schoolcraft.VandenBerg's motivation this spring follows a tremendous wrestling season that saw him finish 54-0 and capture the 285 championship with a 3-0 win in the title match over Reed City junior Wyatt Spalo.

"I gained 20 pounds of muscle and did everything you need to do to become a better athlete to wrestle the heavyweight division. Winning the title was overwhelming. It was everything I ever wanted, and the first 20 minutes after winning it was relief, especially after losing in the Finals as a junior. I just went into that last match and wrestled smart and confident," VandenBerg said. "My speed and strength gave me an advantage over the bigger heavyweights I faced this year."

Vandenberg, 188-22 with 104 career pins, became the 10th Finals champion in Constantine wrestling history and the first to achieve the feat since Kevin Watkins won a 152-pound crown in 2000.

VandenBerg competed at 189 as a freshman and sophomore. He was a Regional qualifier as a freshman and finished sixth in Division 3 as a sophomore before ending his junior campaign as the Finals runner-up at 215. 

"Bennett is a competitor who hates to lose, and if he does he learns from it. He had a lot of good practice partners on the team his first three years, and he wasn't going to be denied after losing in the Finals as a junior," said Constantine wrestling coach Dale Davidhizar Jr.

VandenBerg played on Constantine's varsity football team for four years. He got a lot of extra playing time as a freshman when Constantine reached the Division 6 Semifinals during in the COVID-shortened season. He led the Falcons in rushing as a sophomore before switching to tight end as a junior. Out of necessity, VandenBerg returned to lead Constantine in rushing and scoring again as a senior.

"Bennett learned a great deal from the older guys on the team his first three varsity seasons. He learned leadership qualities and is a very unselfish kid who is willing to do what's best for his team," Griffith said.

VandenBerg is most proud of Constantine winning a District crown last fall, especially after his senior class went 0-5-1 as eighth graders. VandenBerg posted 164 solo tackles at defensive end during his final high school season and was Constantine's main offensive weapon with 1,354 yards and 16 touchdowns rushing on 186 carries.

"Winning Districts as seniors in football was a special moment. As eighth graders, we weren't exactly the most athletic team, but we put in the work as we got older to become successful," VandenBerg said.

VandenBerg has been invited to play for the West team at the annual Michigan High School Football Coaches Association's East-West All-Star Game this summer.

College coaches have shown interest in VandenBerg in all three sports, especially football and wrestling. VandenBerg, who carries a cumulative GPA of 3.989 and scored 1110 on his SAT, is weighing his options in athletics but knows he wants to study either ecology or forestry in college.

"I love being outdoors and doing what I love to do," VandenBerg said.

Scott HassingerScott Hassinger is a contributing sportswriter for Leader Publications and previously served as the sports editor for the Three Rivers Commercial-News from 1994-2022. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Berrien, Cass, St. Joseph and Branch counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Constantine’s Bennett VandenBerg competes in the discus during a home meet his junior season. (Middle) VandenBerg, top position, battles Wyatt Spalo in their Division championship wrestling match at 285 pounds in March at Ford Field. (Below) VandenBerg (34) carries the football during a 2023 regular-season home game against Schoolcraft. (Photos by Brandon Watson/Sturgis Journal.)