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).

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.