Everett 'family' sticks together, wins together

October 19, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

At the end of Thursday’s practice, another chance at history only 24 hours away, Lansing Everett’s football team met for a players-only “family meeting” in the shadow of Archie Ross Stadium’s high concrete bowl.

These brief night-before-game gatherings have become a staple of the Vikings’ best season in more than a quarter century.

With seniors Jaleel Canty and James Mills leading, the players discuss expectations for the team as a whole and each other individually.

This is what was missing two seasons ago when Everett, with 16 of these players on the roster, finished 0-9. The transformation began to take root last fall as the Vikings finished 4-5. Tonight, they can end the regular season 9-0.

“We knew what we could do. We knew our abilities. We’ve known each other since sixth or seventh grade,” Canty said. “We knew that all it took was a little hard work. Everyone dedicated themselves, and we stuck together.

“Honestly, I think it’s because we’re like brothers. We say ‘family’ when we break the huddle, and everyone on this team loves each other. We argue, we fight all the time, but we love each other. We always stick together.”

Everett gets a Second Half High 5 this week because it's one of the top football teams in the state, but also for pulling off a tremendous turnaround – and against a schedule this fall that included annual powerhouses Grand Ledge, Holt, Lansing Sexton, East Lansing and nonleague foe DeWitt.

The Vikings have outscored opponents by a combined 234-64, after being outscored 223-102 during that winless season of 2010. Four this year's seniors joined the varsity as freshmen in 2009, and 15 plus junior quarterback Lucas Barner played significant roles on that winless squad.

History, recent and ancient

Don’t try to stump the Vikings on their family history. They’ve already scoured the Internet to figure out the context of what they’ve accomplished so far – and the meanings behind two important dates:

1986 – The last season, before this fall, that the Vikings won a league championship. The clinched a share of the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue title by beating Sexton last week, and can win it outright tonight at Jackson.

1954 – The last season Everett finished the regular season without a loss, although Canty was quick to point out that team played only eight games. His can finish 9-0.

“They’re excited. They know they’re doing something – or they’re close to doing something,” coach Marcelle Carruthers said.

“We wanted to know if we could make history,” Canty added. “It’s really crazy, seeing where we came from.”

Carruthers said only a handful of players are familiar with the stars that led to Everett’s resurgence last decade – like quarterbacks Mike Canfield and Reggie Williams and receiver Michael Stevenson.

But none are old enough to remember what Carruthers tackled when he took over the struggling program in the spring of 2000.

The streak

From opening night 1995 until Sept. 17, 1999, Everett didn’t win a game. The streak reached 39 losses, and in eight of them the Vikings didn’t score.

Coach Fred Ford shepherded Everett as it finally won that September night and then the next week too before closing 1999 with four more losses. A mission accomplished, he stepped down after the fall – and was at the press conference to greet Carruthers, considered by many the best quarterback and perhaps  best player ever from the Lansing area.

Three more losing seasons followed, running that streak to 16 in a row. But the Vikings were making visible strides. Finally, they broke through with a 6-4 finish in 2003 that included the first of four playoff appearances over six seasons before having to hit the restart button again with a 2-7 record in 2009.

As mentioned above, four of these seniors played on that team as freshmen. They were joined by 11 more classmates and Barner among underclassmen in 2010. The record turned ugly, but the experience resulted in 19 returning starters heading into 2011. Everett finished last season 4-5, but with two losses by a combined eight points. Those taught the players what was necessary to finish a winning effort.

“You're always aware of where you came from, and how good it feels now,” said Carruthers, a Lansing Eastern grad who then played and coached at Central Michigan. “But you also have to know the trials and tribulations too, which makes you humble. You appreciate it and you stay humble because you know how (difficult) it is to stay up; you can go right back down.

“So I think about it all the time. I do.”

More to accomplish

Carruthers told his players Thursday how proud of them he is for sticking together and sticking it out.

That often doesn’t happen when programs hit bumps in the road like Everett did the last three years. Players quit, or move to other schools, or keep playing but keep struggling.

But this team always had talent. Canty, a receiver and defensive back, will sign this winter to play next fall at the University of Cincinnati. He's just one of a large group of standouts with Mills, Barner and running back/linebacker Anthony White other names that have been written and said frequently this fall. Senior Alec Cambric has been a pleasant surprise in his first season with the team, emerging as one of the Lansing area’s top running backs.

Regardless of what happens tonight, Everett will make its sixth playoff appearance ever next week. The Vikings have won playoff games only twice, and have never advanced beyond the District Final.

So there are more goals to achieve. And be sure those will be discussed at the next family meeting, as a large group of players who grew up together look to make history one more time.

“We aren’t having any of that playing around, any of that joking. We’re taking it real seriously,” Canty said. “And that’s one of the things we didn’t have our sophomore year when we went 0-9, someone to push us and let us know what we needed to do. And we’ve been there before, as far as losing.

“But we haven’t been here before. This is a first.”

PHOTO: Lansing Everett's Jaleel Canty will sign this winter with the University of Cincinnati and is arguably the top player in the Lansing area this fall. (Click to see more from HighSchoolSportsScene.com).

Record-Setting Viney Gained Lifelong Confidence at Marine City

By Paul Costanzo
Special for MHSAA.com

July 17, 2024

Olivia Viney didn’t have to look far for inspiration while taking on the challenge of applying to veterinary school.

Made In Michigan and Michigan Army National Guard logosThe 2015 Marine City graduate and record-setting placekicker simply drew from her own experience as a high school athlete.

“It just really taught me that I could do hard things,” Viney said. “I was very involved when I was in school. I did soccer, theater, travel soccer and then football. Especially with football, I learned that if I put my mind to it, I can do it. That helped me to excel in undergrad. When it came time to get accepted to vet school, it was like, ‘This is what I have to do,’ and I did it. That was very confidence-building. It taught me that I really can do hard things.”

Viney, who graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in 2019 and Michigan State Veterinary School in 2023, is now working as an associate veterinarian at Deporre Veterinary Hospital in West Bloomfield. 

Accomplishing her goals is nothing new to Viney, and not at all a surprise to those who watched her come through the Mariners athletic program.

“She was very serious, she was focused and she was dialed in,” said Dave Frendt, who coached Viney in both football and soccer at Marine City. “She knew what she wanted to accomplish, and she set out to do that. She was a fierce competitor and very driven. She was a good leader in that way where she was kind of feisty, but the team would follow that.”

Viney was an all-state soccer player for the Mariners, leading them to a pair of District titles and a Macomb Area Conference Gold title during her four years as a varsity player. It’s the sport she grew up playing, but the one she was most known for after graduation was football. American football.

The 5-foot-1-ish center attacking midfielder found herself in the MHSAA football record book after hitting all seven of her extra point attempts in the Mariners’ 2013 Division 4 Final victory against Grand Rapids South Christian.

“I think it makes sense,” she said. “There were lots of great soccer players, even that I played with. Great players that had gone through school, so I don’t think it’s weird that people remember me for that. When I talk with people, they’ll connect the dots – ‘Oh, you played football.’

“I was more accomplished as a soccer player and had more accolades. But I’m prouder of my football accomplishments, because it was really setting a pathway for girls that wanted to get into that. It’s so much more common now, or accepted. Even though it’s been almost 11 years since we won at Ford Field, I’m so proud of high school Olivia and what she did, the courage she had. She wasn’t scared of anything.”

Viney graduated from MSU’s Veterinary School in 2023. Viney joined Marine City’s football program as a sophomore, playing on the junior varsity squad. While she was there only to kick, she was all in when it came to practicing.

“Coach (Joe) Fregetto made me do tackling drills and drills in the mud – I really did earn my spot on the team,” Viney said. “I think it was mostly because he didn’t know what to do with me, so I guess just do everything that the guys do.”

She handled varsity kicking duties the next two years, setting the school record in 2013 for most extra points made during a single season – a record that still stands. Former Mariners coach Ron Glodich said that Viney actually never missed an extra point that season, as the four failed attempts were never even kicked.

It was her performance in the Division 4 Final that gained her statewide acclaim, as she hit 7 of 7 attempts, tying a record for most extra points made in a Finals game. It stood until a pair of kickers hit eight in 2022.

One record that never will be broken, however, is Viney becoming the first female to score a point at the Finals.

“Everything was so surreal, I was so nervous,” Viney said. “One of my most vivid memories was that day, or maybe the day before, Coach Glodich said, ‘Just so you know, when you get to the field, the goal posts are two feet narrower on each side. But that doesn’t matter if you kick it in the middle.’

“We got there and watched the team before us so we could get used to it, and I remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re so narrow.’ … Seeing myself up on the big screen was kind of almost a little embarrassing, because I knew people were talking about me being the girl. But once we were in the game, it was a lot like any other game. I was just waiting for my turn to go on the field and do my job.”

Viney later was featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” – ironically, right below current U.S. Women’s National Team forward Mallory Pugh – but she wasn’t looked at any differently by her teammates, and she wouldn’t have wanted to be.

“That team was all about sacrifice for the team,” Frendt said. “For them to realize, ‘None of us can do what she does, so we better embrace it, because no one else can do it.’ They really made her feel like part of the team. They wanted to protect her, too. But she was tough. She wasn’t going to take anything.”

Viney went to SVSU to study biology and played for its club soccer team. During her time there, she volunteered at an animal shelter and made the decision she wanted to help animals in her career. She works in general practice at Deporre, and would eventually like to work in shelter medicine.

She and her husband Matt, who were married in May, live with their three dogs. She’s not far from home, and in the spring of 2023 she visited Frendt’s college and career readiness class to speak with students at her alma mater. Her presentation and the attention to detail and hard work she put into it, Frendt said, blew his students away. Not that it surprised him.

“That’s poured into her life after sports,” he said of her work ethic. “She just kept plugging away. She’s awesome.”

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PHOTOS (Top) Marine City’s Olivia Viney kicks at the 2013 11-Player Football Finals, also during her spring soccer season, and cares for one of her patients as an associate veterinarian. (Middle) Viney graduated from MSU’s Veterinary School in 2023. (Photos courtesy of Olivia Viney.)