A Game for Every Fan: Week 1

August 28, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

It's opening night of another MHSAA football season. Not much more needs to be said to describe why athletes, coaches and communities are stepping a little higher with the first varsity kickoffs only a few hours away.

Every game and every team has a story. And each week Second Half will bring you the best game in each of seven regions around the state, plus another five from each that should be worth following for even casual fans. 

Make sure to visit MHSAA.com tonight and all weekend for a complete statewide scoreboard, and return to Second Half on Monday as we wrap up the most significant results from another opening night. 

(Team records that follow are from 2012, and all games are tonight unless noted. Games are designated by region based on home team. Visit the MHSAA Score Center for a complete schedule.)

Greater Detroit

Oak Park (9-3) vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary’s (11-3), Friday at Wayne State University

When last we left Oak Park, the Knights were celebrating a team record for wins, their first playoff appearance since 2005 plus league and District championships. They can kick off 2013 by giving proof they’ll be contenders again; St. Mary’s is coming off an overtime loss to Grand Rapids Christian in a memorable MHSAA Final and always is in the hunt.

Others that caught my eye: Rockford (10-3) at Utica Eisenhower (8-3) on Friday, Detroit Cass Tech (12-2) at Southfield (7-4) on Friday, Pontiac Notre Dame (9-2) at Dearborn Heights Robichaud (9-2), Macomb Dakota (10-2) at Dearborn Fordson (7-3), Zeeland West (7-4) at Detroit Country Day (11-1).

Bay and Thumb

Saginaw Nouvel (9-3) at Saginaw Swan Valley (10-3)

This is a rare matchup between Saginaw powers, but one with interesting history nonetheless. The teams have met only three times – most recently in 2001, when Nouvel beat the Vikings 30-0 in a Division 5 District Final. Nouvel also shut Swan Valley out in season openers in 1984 and 1985. But 2,000-yard rusher Alex Grace and teammates also back from last season’s MHSAA Semifinal run should find the end zone this time regardless of the final score.

Others that caught my eye: Reese (10-1) at Montrose (10-2), Hemlock (9-2) at Frankenmuth (10-1), Marine City (8-2) at Richmond (7-4), Armada (5-4) at Flint Powers Catholic (11-1), Clare (9-3) at Freeland (6-4).

Lower Up North

Big Rapids (8-2) at Reed City (10-1)

Reed City eventually finished first and Big Rapids second in the Central State Activities Association in 2012 after Reed City edged the Cardinals 14-6 on opening night. The Coyotes went on to win 10 straight before falling in their District Final. This matchup should set the tone again in one of the few league races that begins on opening night.

Others that caught my eye: Boyne City (8-2) at Maple City Glen Lake (9-2), Roscommon (6-4) at Grayling (9-1), Elk Rapids (4-5) at Mancelona (10-1), Carrollton (8-2) at Standish-Sterling (7-4), New Lothrop (10-1) at Traverse City St. Francis (4-5).

West Michigan

Grand Rapids Christian (13-1) at Grand Rapids South Christian (11-3)

Three months after continuing their annual opening-night game in 2012, Grand Rapids Christian won the MHSAA Division 3 championship a day after South Christian won the Division 4 title. The Eagles will have a significantly different look at least on offense this time after graduating most of their skill players and losing record-setting receiver Drake Harris for reportedly a month with a leg injury. South Christian quarterback Jon Wassink won’t be familiar to those who watched last season’s Finals – he was injured during the run and didn’t play in the championship game. But he’s back to lead another strong effort. 

Others that caught my eye: Grand Rapids Catholic Central (10-1) at East Grand Rapids (4-5), River Rouge (11-1) at Lowell (8-3), Muskegon Oakridge (10-1) at Grand Rapids West Catholic (10-4), Byron Center (5-4) at Grand Rapids Northview (7-3), Holland Christian (5-5) at Zeeland East (9-1).


Williamston (7-4) at Ithaca (14-0)

The Yellowjackets have won 42 straight games including the last three MHSAA Division 6 Finals, and are led by senior all-state quarterback Travis Smith. A win would tie Ithaca with 1977-82 Cheboygan for the longest winning streak in MHSAA history falling fully during the playoff era (Morenci won 44 straight before playoffs were added, and Hudson’s 72-game victory streak ended during the first year of the playoffs in 1975.) Williamston hasn’t given the Yellowjackets much of a scare during the first two years of their opening-night series, but could be the best bet as stopper until playoff time.

Others that caught my eye: Lansing Catholic (8-2) at Pewamo-Westphalia (9-4), Lansing Waverly (6-4) at Lansing Everett (9-1), Haslett (4-5) at East Lansing (7-4), Dundee (6-4) at Grass Lake (10-2), Beal City (13-1) at Mount Pleasant Sacred Heart (9-2) on Friday.

Southwest and Border

Battle Creek Harper Creek (10-3) at Mattawan (10-2)

Harper Creek kicks off its quest for a third straight season of double-digit wins against a Mattawan team coming off a school record for wins and 18 total over the last two seasons. They last met in a 2005 playoff opener. It will be a strong opening test for teams with league title aspirations again; Harper Creek won the Southwest Michigan Athletic Conference East last season, and Mattawan finished second in the SMAC West.

Others that caught my eye: Portage Central (7-4) at Sturgis (5-4), Marshall (6-4) at Stevensville Lakeshore (11-1), Otsego (6-4) at Edwardsburg (6-4), Fowler (9-2) at Mendon (11-1), Ottawa Lake Whiteford (8-2) at Blissfield (6-5).

Upper Peninsula

Manistique (6-4) at Negaunee (10-2) on Friday

Negaunee has had only one losing season over the last 23 and won the Mid-Peninsula Athletic Conference title last year ahead of eventual MHSAA Division 7 champion Ishpeming. Manistique finished with a winning record for the first time in four years despite opening with losses to Negaunee and Ishpeming, and could be in the title hunt in the MPAC.

Others that caught my eye: Traverse City Central (4-5) at Marquette (5-4), Iron Mountain (5-5) at Ishpeming (13-1), Stephenson (8-3) at Ishpeming Westwood (3-6) on Friday, Hancock (3-6) at Bessemer (6-3) on Saturday, Brimley (2-6) at Eben Junction Superior Central (6-3).

PHOTO: Ithaca takes the field for its MHSAA Semifinal last season at Saginaw Valley State University. The Yellowjackets have won 42 straight games. (Click for 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.