Kicker Steps Into Historic Moment

December 8, 2020

By Doug Donnelly
Special for Second Half

CLINTON – After what Jonathan Baughey has gone through, kicking a football through two yellow goal posts doesn’t seem like a very big deal. 

But, when it came against an undefeated, state-ranked team on the last play of the Division 6 District championship game, it was just that. 

“It was definitely a scary moment,” said Baughey, a junior from Clinton High School in Lenawee County. 

Baughey’s 22-yard field goal as time expired gave Clinton a 16-13 victory over Blissfield and sent his team into a Regional Final against Warren Michigan Collegiate. 

It’s been a long road for Baughey, who thought that after a successful kidney transplant in 2015 that his football career was over. At the urging of a family friend and Clinton middle school coach, however, Baughey tried kicking. It was a good choice as he’s now etched his name into Clinton football lore by making probably the biggest field goal in school history. 

“He’s been through so much, and I couldn’t be happier for him,” said Clinton football coach Jeremy Fielder. “We had a lot confidence in him kicking in that situation. There was no hesitation.” 

Baughey was born with one kidney functioning at 25 percent and the other at 75. 

“From birth he always had kidney issues,” said his mother, Kelly Baughey. “We knew growing up he would need a transplant. They tested his father and I, and we were both matches. His dad (Kevin) decided that he wanted to do it for him. He was his donor.” 

Kevin Baughey never hesitated. 

“It wasn’t a decision at all,” he said. “I would have given him both if I needed to.” 

For years, dealing with the kidney issue was just part of Jonathan’s life. He would tire easier than other kids, but he learned to cope with it. 

“I was more of a tired kid,” Baughey said. “When I was younger, it wasn’t about contact, it was about how tired I would get. I couldn’t keep up with a lot of other kids. It was hard.” 

He had a kidney removed in December of 2012. After that, he said, “it was a roller coaster.” The transplant didn’t come until June of 2015, soon after he finished the sixth grade.  

It took roughly six weeks in the hospital for Baughey to recover from the transplant.  

“As soon as I had the transplant, I started feeling better than I had felt,” he said. “I had more energy.” 

Baughey played flag football as a kid and had started playing tackle football. But when he neared the time for a transplant, he figured his football days were done. That’s when family friend and Clinton middle school coach Keith Tschirhart suggested he try kicking for the Clinton middle school team. 

“I had played soccer and thought it was something I could do, so I tried it,” Baughey said. “I went out with him to the football field to see how I would do. It was pretty rough at the beginning. It took some time.” 

He didn’t get much practice that first season. 

“We never really kicked extra points,” he said.  

Baughey kept working at it though and made it through his eighth-grade season. As a freshman he figured he would continue kicking, most likely for the Clinton JV team. He went to the tryouts. 

“I kicked my first football and the coach said I was on the varsity,” he said.  

Fielder said Baughey made an immediate impact. 

“We didn’t have a kicker,” he said. “We had no one. I even told the coaches, ‘What are we going to do?’ Then, I saw him kick the ball and it was like, ‘He’s our kicker.’” 

It was big adjustment for Baughey. Not only had he once thought he would never play football again – but he found himself suddenly on the varsity as a freshman, not knowing anyone on the team. And, being exclusively a kicker, meant he practiced mainly by himself. 

“That was the struggle that I went through,” he said. “I didn’t know anyone. The only kids I knew were the snapper and the holder.” 

Clinton grad Erik Bouse stepped in to help Baughey. Bouse had been a standout kicker for Clinton for three seasons before graduating in 2017. 

“He was the one who I mainly worked with,” Baughey said. “He helped me a lot. He really started me out not creating bad habits and helped with the mental part of it.” 

As a freshman, Baughey made 42 of his 50 extra-point attempts and a 21-yard field goal. As a sophomore he made 48 of 54 with a 19-yard field goal. This season he has made 29 of 37 extra-point attempts. The winning field goal against Blissfield was his only field goal of the season, on two tries. 

Baughey is exclusively a kicker because of the potential risk of injury following the transplant. He wears a special pad on his stomach under his uniform because that is where doctors put his new kidney. 

His mother said the no-contact rule causes some angst for her. 

“He knows there is a chance he could get hit,” she said. “He wears a shield for padding. The transplant team has okayed him to play.” 

Baughey practices every day, often by himself. He goes to the game field and starts at the extra point yardage and works his way back, making at least two kicks at each distance before moving on to the next level. He’ll use his cell phone to record himself, then watch the videos to make sure he is kicking correctly and not developing bad habits.  

“The biggest part for me is to go out and know that I can do it,” he said. “You have to know you are going to kick it through the uprights, not just think you are going to. I like to pick out a small target, even a leaf or something, and just clear my mind and just kick the ball.” 

When Clinton got the ball back with just over three minutes to go in the District Final against Blissfield, Baughey started thinking the game might come down to his foot. 

“I went to the net and started kicking,” he said. 

Clinton drove the ball inside the Blissfield 10-yard line, but did not reach the end zone. Fielder called a timeout on fourth down with only a few seconds left. Baughey jogged onto the field and lined up when Blissfield called a timeout.  

“I remember walking to the sidelines and taking a deep breath,” he said. “People came up and talked to me and told me I could do it” 

Baughey blocked everything out. 

“I was really mentally focused,” he said. “After I made the kick, I started clapping. I turned around and all my teammates were jumping up and down. I ran to our coaches and everyone started hugging.” 

His father, his donor, could not have been happier to see the ball go through the uprights. 

“I was beside myself happy,” Kevin Baughey said. “Thinking about all of the time he spent working in the offseason, and then seeing the confidence his coaches showed with making the call to go for the field goal ... I was as proud as I could possibly be.” 

Doug Donnelly has served as a sports and news reporter and city editor over 25 years, writing for the Daily Chief-Union in Upper Sandusky, Ohio from 1992-1995, the Monroe Evening News from 1995-2012 and the Adrian Daily Telegram since 2013. He's also written a book on high school basketball in Monroe County and compiles record books for various schools in southeast Michigan. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Clinton's Jonathan Baughey connects on a kick. (Middle) Baughey, following through on another kick this season, clinched his team's District title with a game-winning field goal. (Photos courtesy of the Clinton football program.)

Ubly Offense, Kicker Pile Up Record Book Listings During Championship Run

By Geoff Kimmerly 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.