A Game for Every Fan: 11-Player Semis

November 21, 2014

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

This season's MHSAA football playoffs have featured their share of the unpredictable, to say the least – down to snow-driven changes we've made to the schedule as recently as Friday afternoon. 

But on the field, this set of matchups as a whole could be the most competitive we've seen in some time. And we're all excited to let the games begin.

See below for brief previews of all 16 Semifinals. All are set for 1 p.m. Saturday unless noted; the only Friday game is Munising vs. Beal City at the Superior Dome.

All 16 games will be streamed live either as part of the FoxSportsDetroit.com Prep Zone or MHSAA.tv. Venue changes have led to some adjustments, so make sure to click here for up-to-date information as we receive it and links to watch. 


East Kentwood (11-1) vs. Clarkston (12-0) at Brighton High School

East Kentwood’s best season since 2002 has come down to a face-off with reigning champion Clarkston. The Falcons could work to control tempo with a rushing game averaging 235 yards per game. But they’re also giving up 204 yards rushing per game – good news for Clarkston junior running back Nolan Eriksen, who has run for 1,239 yards and 18 touchdowns, and senior quarterback D.J. Zezula (745 yards and 12 TDs rushing to go with 1,930 yards and 18 TDs passing. 

Saline (11-1) vs. Detroit Cass Tech (12-0) at Troy Athens High School

Saline carries an 11-game winning streak into its first Semifinal; the Hornets’ only loss came on opening night, by three, to Division 2 semifinalist Muskegon Mona Shores. They’ve drawn tournament veteran Cass Tech, playing a Semifinal for the fifth straight season and led by arguably the best player in the state in senior running back Mike Weber. He’s committed to the University of Michigan and has run for 2,050 yards and 28 touchdowns, with 404 yards in last week’s Regional Final.


Muskegon Mona Shores (11-1) vs. Farmington Hills Harrison (10-2) at Howell High School

Two years ago, Mona Shores had never made the playoffs. Two years later, it might be the favorite in Division 2 thanks in part to senior quarterback Tyree Jackson (2,213 yards and 23 TDs passing, 773 yards and 14 TDs rushing). Harrison is much more familiar with this stage; this is its first Semifinal since 2010, when it went on to claim the most recent of an MHSAA-best 13 football championships. Among those lining up across Jackson will be Hawks senior linebacker Michael Ojemudia, who will be key also in stopping a rushing game with more than 3,000 yards this fall. 

Southfield (9-3) vs. Warren DeLaSalle (9-3) at Novi High School

Both of these are considered small surprises that have picked up big wins on the way – Southfield over Detroit Martin Luther King in their playoff opener and DeLaSalle over three-time reigning champion Birmingham Brother Rice last week. But both rosters are filled with dynamic difference-makers. Southfield senior defensive back Dior Johnson is committed to Wake Forest University, and receiver/defensive back Ray Buford is committed to Minnesota University. DeLaSalle senior defensive linemen Khary Harris (6-foot-3/234 pounds) and Mike Danna (6-3/233) key a front that is giving up a meager 73 yards rushing per game. 


Muskegon (11-1) vs. Zeeland West (12-0) at Greenville High School

Muskegon was Division 2 runner-up the last two seasons, and West is the reigning champ in Division 3. These two might be least affected by crummy weather than any others Saturday. Muskegon can ride the running of senior back Caleb Washington (1,422 yards, 14 TDs) and senior quarterback Shawn Pfenning (466/14). West has accumulated an incredible 4,870 rushing yards through its devastating T offense, led by senior Nick Jasch (1,366 yards, 25 TDs) and junior Darius Perisee (1,276/20).

Orchard Lake St. Mary's (12-2) vs. New Boston Huron (11-1) at Dearborn High School

The Eaglets are two close losses to Brother Rice from perfection and fitting their usual mold with another dominating pair of running backs, this season juniors Brandon Adams (1,251 yards, 15 TDs) and Justin Myrick (969/10), and a big-time defensive back in Michigan State University recruit Tyson Smith. Huron is a new arrival in the Semifinals but carries impressive credentials. The Chiefs’ lone loss was to Division 6 semifinalist Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central, in Week 3, and junior quarterback Matt Hartwick is a handful with 1,265 yards and 15 TDs rushing and 1,052 yards and 11 TDs passing.


Grand Rapids South Christian (10-2) vs. Edwardsburg (11-1) at Jackson High School, 3 p.m.

The Sailors are working for a third-straight championship game appearance after winning Division 4 in 2012 and falling to Marine City in last year’s Final. They’ve been uncommonly balanced (2,482 rushing yards, 2,277 passing), as characterized by standout senior quarterback Jon Wassink (1,078 yards, 16 TDs rushing; 2,169 yards, 23 TDs passing). Edwardsburg is easier to read but no easier to stop. The Eddies have run for 4,346 yards to 683 passing, led by sophomore Isaiah Miller (1,485 yards, 22 TDs) and senior Dustin Vires (1,267/17). 

Lansing Sexton (12-0) vs. Detroit Country Day (8-4) at Fenton High School

This ties the longest playoff run for Lansing Sexton, which is relying on a talented group of seniors that has carried the Big Reds to a 24-1 record over the last two seasons and just missed making last year's Final. Quarterback Malik Mack has thrown for 1,418 yards and 17 touchdowns – 11 to senior Rayshawn Wilborn – and seniors JaVon Wray and Avonte’ Bell have combined to run for 2,582 yards. Country Day made the playoffs as an at-large qualifier but is only two seasons off an MHSAA title. A player to watch is senior running back Jacob Hill, who has eight touchdowns rushing, three receiving, another on a kickoff return and one more off an interception.


Menominee (12-0) vs. Grand Rapids West Catholic (12-0) at Northern Michigan University Superior Dome, 11 a.m

This is a rematch of last season’s championship game, a 27-14 West Catholic win. The scenario is a bit reversed this time, with West Catholic making the trip north but with an even more impressive body of work than in 2013. Senior quarterback Travis Russell is back and has thrown for 1,976 yards and 30 touchdowns and run for 1,274 yards and 20 scores. Similarly, Menominee also returns its top offensive player, senior back Justin Brilinski, who has run for 1,515 yards and 23 TDs and thrown for 1,686 yards and 18 scores.  

Lansing Catholic (12-0) vs. Almont (12-0) at Brighton High School, 4:30 p.m.

This should be a battle of styles. Lansing Catholic will look to make its second championship game in four seasons keyed by the high-scoring heroics of 6-7, 230-pound junior quarterback Tony Poljan, who has thrown for 2,405 yards and 32 touchdowns and run for 871 yards and 20 scores. Almont is much more traditional offensively, eating up yards with senior running back Mike Couch (1,230 yards, 25 TDs) and junior running back Nick Baker (1,228/19). And the defense has been one of the state’s most impressive giving up only 68 points and 1,420 yards.  


Boyne City (12-0) vs. Ithaca (12-0) at Midland Community Stadium, 2 p.m.

Ithaca last week survived perhaps its greatest scare during a national-best 68-game winning streak, trailing Madison Heights Madison into the fourth quarter before scoring three times over the final seven minutes. The team has only four seniors, but as usual is led by an all-state caliber quarterback in junior Jake Smith (1,830 yards, 25 TDs passing, 1,247 yards, 17 TDs rushing). Boyne City is the next with a chance to making history by ending some, and returns to the Semifinals for the first time since another 12-0 start in 2001. The Ramblers probably won’t add to their total of six shutouts, but could slow the Yellowjackets more than most. 

Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian (11-1) vs. Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central (11-1) at Battle Creek Harper Creek High School

NorthPointe Christian has seemingly gained steam as it’s built its best season of a seven-year football history; the Mustangs have actually increased their scoring average during the playoffs four points per game to just more than 42. Senior quarterback Luke VanDyke (1,143 yards/15 TDs passing, 561/13 rushing) and senior running back Kenny Willekes (1,194 yards/15 TDs rushing) are responsible for much of that firepower. But St. Mary has eliminated two previously-undefeated teams the last two weeks and tripped up only against Lansing Catholic, in Week 9. Junior Justin Carrabino (1,268 yards, 12 TDs) is one of three backs who have run for at least 800 yards and 12 scores.


Ishpeming (11-0) vs. Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary (11-1) at the Superior Dome, 2 p.m.

The key to two-time reigning champion Ishpeming adding to its 32-game winning streak could be stopping the multiple offensive threats of Seminary, which has scored more than 400 points for the first time since 1995. Senior running back Owen Heyn is averaging 8.4 yards per carry and has run for 12 scores, and senior quarterback Nathanael Lindloff has thrown for 1,515 yards and 25 TDs – including 11 to sophomore Casey Williams, who also has run for seven, scored twice on kickoff returns, twice on punt returns and once off an interception. Junior Ozzy Corp has stepped in strongly at quarterback this season for Ishpeming after the graduation of standout Alex Briones, running for 15 touchdowns and throwing for six more through the regular season. 

Pewamo-Westphalia (10-2) vs. Detroit Loyola (12-0) at Jackson High School, 11 a.m.

Loyola has fallen to Ishpeming in the last two Division 7 Finals, but appears to have taken its game to another level with no opponent getting within 28 points including previously-undefeated New Lothrop last week. Senior Marvin Campbell is the top running back again, this fall rushing for 1,639 yards and 28 touchdowns with senior Mideyin Wilson following with 925 yards and 13 scores. But P-W is not unfamiliar with this level, making its third Semifinal appearance in four seasons and with a star in the making carrying the load. Sophomore Jared Smith has run for 2,033 yards and 27 touchdowns, averaging 11 yards per carry.


Munising (11-1) vs. Beal City (10-2) at the Superior Dome, 7 p.m. Friday

Munising passed tests against previously-undefeated St. Ignace and powerful Crystal Falls Forest Park the last two weeks, but now must defeat reigning runner-up Beal City to extend its best season since 1980. The Mustangs have the firepower with senior Garrett Blank running for 1,849 yards and 28 touchdowns and senior quarterback Austin Kelto throwing for 18 scores – with no interceptions. Beal City has advanced to the last two Division 8 Finals and is looking to return with a mostly new group, although it impressed again last week in shutting out a potent Baldwin offense. 

Muskegon Catholic Central (12-0) vs. Harbor Beach (12-0) at Alma College

No one has been expected to stop reigning champion MCC this fall; a number of the biggest contributors from 2013 are leading the way again, including senior running back Tommy Scott (1,691 yards, 29 TDs rushing) and senior quarterback Nick Holt (859/15). But Harbor Beach has been considered one of the candidates to have a shot. The Pirates are back in a Semifinal for the third straight season and won the championship in 2012 before moving into Division 7 for 2013. Waterford Our Lady two weeks ago is the only opponent to score more than seven points this season, and Harbor Beach doesn’t allow many chances with seniors Austin Seltz (1,243 yards/23 TDs) and Josh Schelke (1,219/23) dominating the run game.

PHOTO: Lansing Catholic quarterback Tony Poljan scans the field during last week's Division 5 Regional Final win over Flint Powers Catholic. (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.