Glen Lake Blazes Trail Back to Finals

November 23, 2016

By Dennis Chase
Special for Second Half

TRAVERSE CITY – Congratulatory messages streamed in Saturday after Maple City Glen Lake defeated Leroy Pine River 34-20 in a Division 6 football Semifinal at snow-covered Thirlby Field – a win that secured the Lakers’ first MHSAA Finals appearance in 20 years.

Head coach Jerry Angers’ phone was particularly active. Among those calling or texting: Former Traverse City West coach Matt Prisk, who Angers previously worked under as a defensive coordinator; retiring St. Ignace coach Marty Spencer, whose Saints fell to defending Division 8 champion Muskegon Catholic earlier in the day; and Eric Gordon, the former Michigan State linebacker, who played for Prisk and Angers at West.

Angers, who was still fielding calls and texts late into the night Saturday, was “touched” by the show of support for his Glen Lake program.

Most of all, he was proud of his players, who kept improving every week to make this moment possible.

“They have worked hard for this opportunity,” he said. “I told them (after Saturday’s game), ‘You’re going to Ford Field. You’re one of 16 teams still playing. A lot of people will be watching, but I want you to enjoy it.’

“It’s like the Alan Jackson song ‘Remember When.’ I said in 20 years when you come back to see me I want you to say, ‘Remember when.’”

Glen Lake, which faces Jackson Lumen Christi for the title Friday, won the Class DD championship in 1994 under coach Bill Hollenbeck. The Lakers lost in the Class DD Final in 1996. Now, 20 years later, Glen Lake’s back.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” all-state linebacker Duke Angers, the coach’s son, said a few hours after the game. “It seems surreal right now. Growing up as a kid, you dream about playing at Ford Field. Now we get that opportunity. We’ll enjoy this for 24 hours and then get to work for Jackson Lumen Christi.”

Junior quarterback Cade Peterson, who rushed for 179 yards and three touchdowns in the win over Pine River, is also a coach’s son. His father, Tim, was head coach at Lake City for 15 seasons. The family moved into the Glen Lake school system this year. Tim is the quarterbacks coach for the Lakers.

“I’ve been going down to the state finals since I was 12,” Cade said. “And I would always think, ‘I want to play in this (state finals).’ Now it’s happening. You can ask any team in the state, and their ultimate goal would be to go to Ford Field and play for a state title. Only a few teams can say they accomplished that – and we did. As soon as that moment set in (Saturday), it was ‘Hey, we achieved our goal. Now let’s go win a state championship.’”

For Tim Peterson, who led Lake City to nine playoff berths, including Regional appearances in 2012 and 2013, it was a moment to savor.

“You work your whole life as a coach to try to get to the apex – and this is it,” he said. “We’re there. I couldn’t be happier for the kids, the program and the community.”

Now the task for the 11-2 Lakers is to a win a 12th game. Glen Lake will be taking on a program steeped in tradition. This will be Lumen Christi’s eighth MHSAA Finals appearance since 2000. The Titans have won five crowns during that span under coach Herb Brogan.

“Our kids have been facing challenges all year, and people keep underestimating them,” Tim Peterson said. “They just keep doing what they do – and they do it very well.”

Glen Lake’s losses were to Traverse City St. Francis (21-13) and Frankfort (26-21), teams that finished 11-1.  The Lakers came in second to Frankfort in the Northern Michigan Football League’s Leaders division. Jerry Angers, now in his eighth season at the helm, said his team learned valuable lessons from those defeats.

“Sometimes losses are good for you,” he said. “We, as coaches and fans, never want to believe that, but in our two losses we had 15 or so penalties in one and five turnovers in the other. So you go back and you work on it. You try to reduce the penalties, reduce the turnovers. That became a great focus for our kids. I think we’ve had eight penalties in four playoff games – total. And we’ve kept our turnovers to a minimum. If you focus on the task at hand, and what’s in front of you, those things are going to be eliminated.”

Cade Peterson said the setbacks brought the team closer together, too.

“People can start pointing fingers (in defeat),” he said. “That didn’t go on here. Everybody picked each other up and kept fighting, kept going.”

The 16 seniors on the team led the way.

“They set the tone,” Tim Peterson said. “The senior leadership has been phenomenal in keeping the focus.”

Glen Lake had to go on the road at Roscommon and Calumet to win two of its four playoff games. On Saturday, the Lakers, who were averaging 160 yards passing and 215 yards rushing per contest out of their spread offense, stuck to the ground to beat Pine River in blustery conditions that forced officials to clear snow off the artificial turf before and during the game.

Glen Lake rushed for 309 yards. In addition to Peterson’s 179 yards, Duke Angers picked up 59 and Nick Apsey 54. Apsey also hauled in two catches for 34 yards. The Laker backs – running behind a line that features tackles Jake Palmer and Brandon Tremble, guards Ryan Nadlicki and Zack Gushurst and center Tommy Kendall – averaged nearly five yards a carry. Nadlicki’s uncle, Mike, was a star on Traverse City’s state championship team in 1988.

“The weather forced us to be very one-dimensional (Saturday), but we’re real pleased with our ability to run the football as well as throw it,” Tim Peterson said. “That’s a good combination to have when you go deep into the playoffs because you never know what the weather will be.”

For the season, Cade Peterson’s completed 106 of 207 passes for 1,953 yards and 20 touchdowns. Jared Jackson, last year’s starting quarterback, has caught 30 passes, Apsey 23.

The 6-foot-4, 190-pound Peterson leads the team in rushing with 843 yards. Apsey, also a junior, has added 791 yards.

Defensively, Duke Angers, a four-year starter, is averaging 10 stops a game and Tony Duperon seven. Glen Lake is surrendering less than 200 yards in offense per game. Angers was the Traverse City Record-Eagle’s Defensive Player of the Year a year ago.

“As a football coach, he’s one of the best leaders and overall players that I’ve ever been associated with,” Jerry Angers said.

Jerry Angers led Glen Lake to back-to-back 9-2 seasons in 2012-13. The Lakers reached the District Finals those years.

Glen Lake qualified for the playoffs a year ago, finishing 5-5. This season, with a number of experienced players returning, coupled with the addition of Cade and Drew Peterson, the team has flourished. Drew is a sophomore defensive end and receiver. He had an interception Saturday.

Cade Peterson was a two-year starter at Lake City, throwing for 1,753 yards and 19 touchdowns as a sophomore.

“I feel a big part of why I’ve been successful (at Glen Lake) is because of how welcoming everybody was – not only the team and coaches, but the school and community,” he said.

“When those two (Peterson) boys walked in, our kids just grabbed them and said, ‘Hey, let’s go. You’re part of us now,’” Jerry Angers added.

Tim Peterson retired as a principal in June of 2015. He coached the Trojans that fall, but after the school year the family decided to make a move. Peterson was familiar with the Glen Lake area, since he worked camps with Hollenbeck. He was also good friends with Angers.

“It was time for a change,” Peterson explained. “We came up and looked at the academic piece of it, which is most important to us, and we said this is where we want to go.

“We’ve always said, at some point, we’d like to get here. This community is so supportive of their kids and of their school and that’s what you look for as a parent.”

Now the Lakers are one win away from a second MHSAA title. Regardless of what happens, though, Duke Angers said he believes his senior class has made an impact.

“We raised the bar a little,” he said. “We wanted to leave a trail to follow – and I think we have.”

Dennis Chase worked 32 years as a sportswriter at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, including as sports editor from 2000-14. He can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Manistee, Wexford, Missaukee, Roscommon, Ogemaw, Iosco, Alcona, Oscoda, Crawford, Kalkaska, Grand Traverse, Benzie, Leelanau, Antrim, Otsego, Montmorency, Alpena, Presque Isle, Cheboygan, Charlevoix and Emmet counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Maple City Glen Lake’s Nick Apsey (5) follows his blockers on the way to the end zone during Saturday’s Semifinal win over Leroy Pine River. (Middle) Wes Peplinski (68) drops the Pine River quarterback in the 34-20 victory. (Photos by Kim Jackson.) 

Mendon 8-Player Championship Game Run Paced by Record-Setting Rushing

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

May 26, 2023

Mendon’s run to the Division 2 Final last fall included some of the strongest rushing performances over the history of 8-player football.

The Hornets ran for 4,317 yards, second-most all-time, on the second-most attempts (520) and with a record-setting 682 yards Oct. 14 against Marcellus. Mendon also set the record for total offense with 692 total in that game, and made the single-season touchdowns list with 76 including 66 rushing (also second on that list).

Junior Jack McCaw made the single-season scoring list with 212 points, most coming on 29 touchdowns, and Evan Lukeman made the single-game rushing list with 401 yards against Marcellus. Mendon’s defense also earned praise, twice making the fewest-first-downs-allowed list with a low of three.

See below for more recent additions to the 8-player portion of the football record book:

8-Player Football

Athens’ Landon Bennett earned a pair of record book entries after reaching the end zone seven times during his team’s 72-0 win over Burr Oak on Sept. 8. His seven scores are tied for third-most in 8-player history and included three rushing, three on punt returns and one on an interception return. The three punt return touchdowns are a record. Bennett is a junior.

On the night Powers North Central broke its 8-player record for consecutive wins, claiming its 28th straight, senior Luke Gorzinski tied Jets great Jason Whitens for the record for interception touchdowns in a game with two, scoring on returns during the second and fourth quarters. Gorzinski has signed with Michigan Tech, and North Central’s winning streak is 37 games and counting.

A pair of Atlanta offensive playmakers and a top defensive lineman earned a total of seven entries in the record book for achievements last fall. Senior quarterback Tyler Currie threw for 30 touchdowns over eight games, and also made the records for six touchdowns and 419 passing yards against Whittemore-Prescott on Sept. 23; the passing yards are second-most for one 8-player game. Sophomore Landon Galea was added for 263 yards and five of those touchdowns against the Cardinals, and also for 1,418 yards receiving and 23 touchdowns over nine games. Junior teammate Tucker Kendrick made the tackles for loss list with five against Hillman on Oct. 6.

Adrian Lenawee Christian senior Brady McKelvey became the first to make the career extra points list in 8-player football this past fall. He bettered his previous single-season record making 64 of 66 extra-point attempts over 11 games and finishing his two-year varsity career with 123 extra points in 127 tries.

Sam McKissack reached the record book showcasing multiple skills for Crystal Falls Forest Park during the 2021 season – twice for rushing attempts in a game including with a record 59 against Ontonagon that Sept. 10, and then with a record 70-yard punt Oct. 30, 2021, against Lake Linden-Hubbell. Teammate Devon Basirico also made the record book with six fumble recoveries over 11 games that season. As a team, Forest Park was added twice for single-game rushing attempts – including 73 total in that Ontonagon game – and for 424 rushes over 11 games for the season. McKissack and Basirico are seniors this spring.

Nikolaus Lewis tied for eighth-most rushing touchdowns in an 8-player game when he reached the end zone six times for Carsonville-Port Sanilac in its win over Caseville on Oct. 7. He’s a senior this spring.

Bridgman has won 24 straight games over the last three seasons, and an exceptional offense – and exceptional offensive star – have played major roles. The Bees were added for 658 total yards in a win over Lawrence last season, that total ranking third all-time, and also 613 yards in a win over Eau Claire. Those included totals of 575 and 547 rushing yards, respectively, and Bridgman was added for 3,598 rushing yards (sixth on the list), 59 rushing touchdowns (fourth) and 76 total touchdowns (seventh). Senior Reid Haskins capped his four-year, 32-game varsity career with 13 record book entries, including for 254 points last season over nine games (tied for fifth all-time) and a record 620 career points, 41 touchdowns last season (fifth) and a record 95 for his career, 2,344 rushing yards last season (third) and a record 5,206 for his career, and 41 rushing touchdowns last season (third) and a record 94 for his career. Senior teammate Tanner Peters made the records three times including for 50 extra points last season (fourth) and 99 over 26 games and three seasons (second on the career list).

Mio's Austin Fox rewrote the 8-player passing record book this past fall, with his 621 yards in a game against Whittemore-Prescott setting a single-game record as he totaled four of the five-highest passing yardage totals. He also set a record with 3,516 over nine games for the season, another record with 289 passing attempts over those nine games and a third record for nine touchdown passes in that game against the Cardinals. His 41 touchdown passes total rank fourth. Teammates Gage Long and Nathan Hurst also earned several record book entries on the receiving end of those passes. Long’s 297 receiving yards against Whittemore-Prescott were tied for third most, and Hurst’s 266 against Alcona rank eighth. Long set a single-season record with 1,739 receiving yards, with Hurst sixth all-time at 1,321, and Long’s 14 receptions against the Cardinals and 70 for the season also rank second on those respective lists. Hurst set a record for longest 8-player kickoff return with a 99-yarder against St. Helen Charlton Heston. All three are seniors.

Peck was one of the first MHSAA 8-player champions, claiming the title in 2013, and Cody Abrego one of the state’s first 8-player stars. The Pirates were added to the MHSAA record book 52 times, and Abrego 14 times individually. Among the most notable entries for the 2015 graduate were for 462 points scored over his two-season career (ranking sixth all-time), 74 career touchdowns (sixth), 2,202 rushing yards in 2013 (fifth) and 35 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (sixth). Current senior Caleb Lentner was one of the stars statewide this past season, and he was added eight times including for 50 points scored in a game (ranking second), 272 points for a season last fall (fifth), eight touchdowns in a game (tied for second), 42 touchdowns in a season (fifth), an 8-player record of 2,694 rushing yards from last season, and 38 rushing touchdowns also last fall (fourth). Others to make the individual lists were Nathan Robar, Caleb Dudley, Steven VanConant, Kyle Abrego and Nathan Neihaus, Dudley for a record 20 career interceptions over two seasons and VanConant for a record 12 tackles for loss in a 2022 game and 36 tackles for loss for the season last fall. The Pirates also are all over the 8-player team record book, including for a record 97 touchdowns in 2013, a record 5,895 yards of total offense that season, 528 carries, 4,346 rushing yards and 73 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (all ranking second); and 24 interceptions in 2014, which ranks second on that list.

Senior quarterback JR Hildebrand was one of the most dynamic players in 8-player football in the fall in leading Martin to the Division 1 title. He had one of his most exciting nights in a playoff opener against Tekonsha, making the single-game touchdown pass list with six in a 68-6 victory.

PHOTO Mendon’s Jack McCaw (21) eludes a tackle during the 8-Player Division 2 Final in November at Northern Michigan University. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)