Ice Man: Skyline's Copp sets football records, leaves legacy
October 27, 2011
Eventually, Andrew Copp may be best-known as a hockey star. His spot on the USA under-18 national team development program squad marks him as one of the top players his age in the country.
But he’ll be remembered as one of Ann Arbor Skyline’s first standout athletes for another sport he simply couldn’t give up.
Bittersweet and heart-breaking are how Copp described the end of this football season. The MHSAA playoffs begin this weekend, and he hoped to be a part -- a possibility that was likely closer than Skyline’s 3-6 record might imply, given four of those losses were by four or fewer points. And that’s not the worst part. Even if Skyline had earned a berth, Copp would’ve been forced to watch after breaking his right collarbone in multiple spots three weeks ago.
Still, there will be plenty to remember fondly for the first quarterback in his school’s four-year history. Two MHSAA records and his school’s first varsity football wins will top the list, even as the combination of football and the injury will force Copp the miss the first half of his USA team’s season.
“It means a lot, starting something new and trying to put your stamp on it,” Copp said. “As the quarterback, it’s a lot of weight on your shoulders to start something that 10, 20 years down the road people are going look at.
“Last year, when I got offered to play (USA) but had to quit football after the first game, I couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t quit on the team.”
That kind of leadership was “worth its weight in gold” for a school and program only just getting started, Skyline athletic director John Young said.
Copp likely would’ve attended Ann Arbor Pioneer -- like both of his parents had -- had Skyline not opened in fall 2008.
The Eagles’ football program started that first fall, but didn’t field a varsity team until 2010. Copp was the quarterback all four years until his he was injured on a run during the first quarter of his team’s Week 7 game against Temperance Bedford.
Two weeks earlier, against Ann Arbor Pioneer, Copp had thrown for an MHSAA record 557 yards and record-tying seven touchdowns. In six games this fall plus a few minutes of that seventh, Copp completed 96 of 156 passes for 1,732 yards and 27 touchdowns. Those season touchdown passes also qualify for an MHSAA record book listing, as do the 31 completions that led to his record-setting numbers against Pioneer.
“Obviously, I can’t throw for 557 yards without my line doing a great job, my receivers catching balls and making plays. And probably the most unsung heroes on our team are the running backs, who were blocking for me,” Copp said. “I just remember everything going our way, almost like a recess football game.”
But it took some flexibility from USA hockey and a tough decision by Copp to make it possible. Usually, USA players aren’t allowed to play other sports, Copp said, but he was granted that exception. He joined USA hockey after his junior football season, and this summer started that team’s workouts at 8 a.m. before then moving on to workouts and film study for football. This fall, after his five classes at Skyline to start the day, he’d work out for hockey from 1:30-4 p.m. every week Monday through Wednesday, then start football practice at 4:30. All while remaining a strong student and adhering to a hockey-imposed 9 p.m. curfew.
Ironically, the 6-foot, 185-pound Copp joined the football team to become more physical for hockey on the advice of his father Andy, a successful youth hockey coach. Andrew has seen some similarities between the two sports -- as a hockey center he also controls play. Hockey helped Copp be ready for a fast pace of play and developed the quick decision-making necessary to thrive at quarterback.
His football mind helped him help the Eagles when he could no longer lead them on the field. “He had surgery on Tuesday, missed Wednesday, and was back at practice the next day,” Skyline coach Rodrek Jones said. “That was the same day my offensive coordinator was not able to come to practice, and (Copp) called the entire practice for me. He stayed very focused.”
Copp still can’t carry his backpack around school, but hopes to play hockey by January. He is almost assured of an outstanding college hockey opportunity, and Jones thinks he has the ability to play college football as well. Young said Copp, along with receiver Jordan Woods (committed to Purdue) and volleyball player Maggie Halloran (committed to Michigan State), has put Skyline on the map. Despite the tough end this fall, it’s a legacy Copp is glad to leave for those who come after him.
“He’s one of the most popular kids in school, on the Homecoming king court ... a typical All-American kid,” Young said. “I’m extremely happy for him. I was disappointed he broke his collarbone, because he was on track for a more spectacular year. But he helped, along with other players, to elevate their play this year.”
Skyline quarterback Andrew Copp (9) takes a snap against Ann Arbor Pioneer on Sept. 23. Copp threw for an MHSAA-record 557 yards and a record-tying seven touchdowns in a 52-49 loss. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Lepley. Head shot by Pete Draugalis.)
Mendon 8-Player Championship Game Run Paced by Record-Setting Rushing
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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:
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.)