Fueled by Year's Worth of Motivation, Lenawee Christian Caps Perfect Run

By Jason Juno
Special for MHSAA.com

November 18, 2023

MARQUETTE --- Adrian Lenawee Christian won MHSAA Finals titles in its first two seasons of 8-player football.

But last year the Cougars didn’t, falling to eventual Division 1 champion Martin in a Regional Final.

“I’m not joking when I say the Monday after we got beat by Martin, they were all in the weight room,” Lenawee Christian coach Bill Wilharms said.

Since then, they’ve been doing early Saturday morning workouts, they’ve gone to powerlifting meets with him, anything to get better, anything to get back to where they want to be – lifting the championship trophy.

The Cougars did that Saturday afternoon after they defeated Marion 36-18 in the Division 2 Final at the Superior Dome in Marquette.

“That’s why we’ve been doing it,” said senior quarterback Sam Lutz, who was 20 of 23 for 350 yards through the air while accounting for all five touchdowns (two rushing, three passing). “It’s the kind of legacy we’ve been trying to make. You put in the work, you get the results.”

They certainly get the results. The Cougars went undefeated like they did in their first two championship runs, and this 18-point win was their closest game of the season. 

The Cougars’ Jesse Miller (2) forces Marion’s Collin McCrimmon out of bounds. Lutz and the rest of the seniors had one last chance to win a title they could call their own. He said that early exit last fall was the motivation to get here, and this win proved to be a pretty good feeling.

“I played a little bit as a sophomore, but it’s certainly different to be one of the main leaders of this team and it feels really great,” Lutz said. 

“Martin was the better team last year; they took it to us in that Regional,” Wilharms said. “This group of seniors, they wanted one of their own, they wanted their own legacy.”

He said it was awesome to see their hard work pay off.

“What high school kid wants to get up at 6 o’clock on Saturday morning?” Wilharms said. “They come in, they believe in it. It’s nice. And we have fun. The coaches lift and stuff, so it’s just a blast. And then we walk away sore and they laugh at us, and that’s a good thing, too.”

Marion had a long road to Marquette as well. 

While their five-hour drive was actually about two hours shorter than Lenawee Christian’s, the Eagles had been trying for several years to get here. 

They finally got to the Superior Dome after always running into juggernaut Powers North Central. The Jets won the three previous Division 2 titles after defeating Marion in a Semifinal every time. 

“It was the final step. We finally made it here,” Marion coach Chad Grundy said. “We came up a little bit short, but they’re a real good team and we just made a couple mistakes. They’re too good for us to make those mistakes.”

The game started out in Marion’s favor. 

Senior Gavin Prielipp returned the opening kickoff 76 yards for a 6-0 lead just nine seconds in.

“Most people don’t kick to us,” Grundy said. “He ran one back last week, too. It’s been a great season, and we’re just proud of our kids.”

Wilharms expected a good effort from Marion, and saw it right away.

“We knew they were a heck of a football team – you don't get to 12-0 and the state championship (otherwise), so we knew there were gonna be some bumps and stuff along the way,” he said. “Unfortunately, I didn’t think it was going to be that early.”

Lenawee Christian scored 36 straight points after that.

The Cougars led just 1 minute, 41 seconds later when Lutz found senior tight end Easton Boggs for a 15-yard touchdown. The Eli Brainard extra point made it 7-6.

Lutz finds a receiver as Marion’s James Williams applies pressure. Lutz ran for touchdowns of seven and one yard as Lenawee Christian expanded its lead to 20-6 early in the second quarter. He found Boggs again for a 12-yard TD midway through the second quarter, and a 42-yard field goal by Max Stamats with 20 seconds left in the half made it 29-6.

Lutz hit Boggs for the third and final time with six seconds left in the third quarter. The Brainard extra point made it 36-6. In all, Boggs caught nine passes for 210 yards. 

“Easton’s been a force for us through seventh and eighth grade, and Sammy came as a ninth grader,” Wilharms said. “I hope (Lutz) is in the consideration for the 8-player Player of the Year, because I think he’s definitely deserving of it.”

Marion scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns, a 30-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Collin McCrimmon to junior James Williams and a three-yard run by junior Cole Meyer.

Lenawee Christian outgained Marion 405-274 and was just the second team to score more than 14 points against the Eagles this year.

“Just the speed,” Grundy said of what makes the Cougars so tough. “They’ve got so much speed everywhere. They’re very well-coached. We struggled with that when they spread it out, trying to defend the quarterback and defend all their receivers.”

It was six years ago when Wilharms bought into the type of workouts that promoted the kind of speed that keeps his team coming to the Upper Peninsula.

On the field, the Cougars enjoy playing offense, which is easy to understand with the way they can score. But Wilharms thought the defense played even better Saturday, suffocating a Marion offense that came in averaging 55 points per game.

“They just were awesome,” he said.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Lenawee Christian’s Easton Boggs (10) and Sam Lutz celebrate a touchdown Saturday at the Superior Dome. (Middle) The Cougars’ Jesse Miller (2) forces Marion’s Collin McCrimmon out of bounds. (Below) Lutz finds a receiver as Marion’s James Williams applies pressure. (Click for more photos by Cara Kamps.)

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.