Edwards, Lakers Run Away With 1st Title

January 23, 2021

By Jason Schmitt
Special for Second Half

DETROIT – It was never really a matter of if, but rather when Donovan Edwards was going to bust a big run.

On Saturday, the West Bloomfield senior answered the call, scoring on runs of 71 and 78 yards en route to a three-touchdown afternoon while leading his Lakers to a 41-0 victory over 2019 champion Davison in the Division 1 Football Final at Ford Field.

Edwards, who has signed to play collegiately at the University of Michigan, finished the afternoon with 257 yards on just 14 carries. Despite not playing in the fourth quarter, he totaled the eighth-highest rushing total in MHSAA Finals history. And it was enough for West Bloomfield head coach Ron Bellamy to make a major declaration.

“This here is the best football player in the state of Michigan,” Bellamy said of Edwards. “Five star. Big college. Whatever it may be. Teams come to stop one football player, and he had 200-some yards (today).

“I’m from Louisiana, and I had a chance to play against Ed Reed in high school. I had a chance to play against Reggie Wayne, Eli Manning, I played against NFL Hall of Famers in high school, on the same field, and he looks like them. It ain’t the cliche, ‘Best player on the field.’ He looks like a dude that’s gonna play for a long time in the NFL and be an all-American at the University of Michigan. Obviously some things have to happen in his favor, but you saw it. He just looks different from everybody else on the field.” 

Edwards’ talents were on display right away. After the two teams traded early fumbles, Edwards broke free on the first play from scrimmage for a 78-yard touchdown to give his team a 7-0 lead. 

West Bloomfield would expand its lead to 17-0 by halftime thanks to a 39-yard field goal by senior Jake Ward and a 13-yard touchdown run by senior Mekhi Elam.

The Lakers defense was on display all afternoon, limiting the Cardinals offense to just 136 total yards. It forced a pair of fumbles and converted them into 14 points. Senior defensive end Niles King stripped the ball from the hands of Jay’len Flowers and returned it 40 yards to give his team a 24-0 lead less than a minute into the second half.

“We know that when you come to Ford Field you’ve got to play defense,” Bellamy said. “Davison has a heck of a defense, but our defense was better today. Those guys were lights out. 

“We had an early fumble in the game and they were playing Davison smash-mouth football. They hit us in the mouth. I told the kids, defensively, ‘They’re going to hit us in the mouth early; it’s how you respond to adversity.’ Once they fumbled the ball and we got it back, our defense was balling out.”

Senior linebacker Travis Reece led the Lakers with seven tackles, two for a loss, and added a sack. Senior linebacker Jordan Hoskins had six tackles.

West Bloomfield kicker Jake Ward connected on a pair of field goals, from 39 and 45 yards out, while converting all five of his point-after attempts. All seven of his kickoffs went for touchbacks.

Davison, which defeated Brighton 35-25 to win the 2019 championship, was playing without its regular-season starting quarterback Brendan Sullivan, who enrolled early at Northwestern University. The Cardinals also suffered a loss in-game, when senior defensive end Harrison Unger went down with a leg injury. He left the game with eight minutes remaining in the first quarter.

“Harry is our best player,” Davison head coach Jake Weingartz said. “Defensive end, he plays tight end, slot receiver. He does a lot for us on both sides of the ball. It was unfortunate because he’s a huge part of our gameplan. It was rough.”

Without him, Davison had trouble stopping Edwards and Co. Senior Clarke Hamilton led the Cardinals (11-1) with six tackles. 

“If anyone has watched us play, it was very uncharacteristic of us,” Weingartz said. “I just think we struggled with their speed. Their front six is real good. We missed a lot of opportunities. You just can’t miss them here, and you definitely can’t miss them against a team like West Bloomfield.

 “I’m very proud of our kids for battling all the adversity this year, with the stop and start and losing our quarterback to early graduation. Obviously this is not how we wanted it to end.” 

For West Bloomfield (10-1), Saturday’s championship was the first in school history. The Lakers lost to Clarkston, 3-2, in the 2017 Division 1 title game.

“It’s surreal. It’s so, so surreal,” Bellamy said. “We’ve waited so long for this moment. These last few years, since we lost (to Clarkston), everything in my power, in my coaching staff’s power, we wanted to develop a champion. We’ve been so close, but yet so far. 

“It’s a special feeling. We’ve made many sacrifices this year. The kids’ mental health was challenged with the shutdowns. But we’re here, we made it here. We felt we had a good football team, and we had a chance to win a state championship.”

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) West Bloomfield’s Donovan Edwards (6) strides toward the end zone Saturday, as Davison’s TeAvion Warren pursues. (Middle) The Lakers’ Travis Reece (2) and BJ Rankin (21) work to bring down the Cardinals’ Payton Pizzala. (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.