McKelvey Fills Record-Setting Kicking Role with Lenawee Christian Football
By Doug Donnelly
Special for MHSAA.com
October 11, 2022
ADRIAN – A couple of years ago it would have been easy to image Brady McKelvey scoring a last-second shot for Adrian Lenawee Christian to win a basketball game or for him to find the back of the net with a game-winning goal in soccer.
But fast forward to today and McKelvey might be more likely to kick a game-winning field goal for the No. 2-ranked Cougars 8-player football team.
“I watched football of course, but I never played it until last year,” McKelvey said. “It’s interesting. It’s been a lot of fun. I’m glad Coach (Bill) Wilharms asked us to try out.”
McKelvey is a two-sport athlete in the fall, playing for both the Lenawee Christian soccer and football teams. He’s played on MHSAA championship teams in both sports. Last week McKelvey reached rare territory when he kicked his 100th career extra point – the state record for 8-player football.
“We were never big football players,” McKelvey said, referring to him and his brother, Jacob, now a student at the University of Michigan. “We just always had a soccer ball in our hands.”
Wilharms is the strength and conditioning coach and varsity football coach at Lenawee Christian, which has grown into an 8-player powerhouse, winning Division 1 championships in the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Brady and Jacob McKelvey were working out at the LCS facilities two springs ago when Wilharms asked if they wanted to try out kicking for the football team.
“I always wondered what it would be like to kick a football,” Brady McKelvey said. “I’ve always wanted to, but never had the opportunity. We were excited to try it out.”
Both came out for the team last season and were coached by Casey Opsal, a former Hudson kicker and now a Lenawee County sheriff’s deputy who is one of Wilharms’ assistants. With Opsal’s guidance, Jacob and Brady blossomed into outstanding kickers.
“He’s been the person who has taught me everything I know about it,” McKelvey said. “He helped me improve a lot.”
McKelvey has never attended a football camp or had a lesson in kicking a football from anyone outside of the LCS staff. Yet, his statistics are nothing short of amazing.
Last season, McKelvey had a string of 52 consecutive extra points at one point and finished the season making 59-of-61 attempts. He has a current streak of 23 straight makes heading into this week’s game and is 44-for-45 overall this year. In two seasons, that makes him 103-for-106. He kicked his first field goal earlier this season, giving him 106 career kicking points.
Twice in his career he’s kicked 10 extra points in a game. This year he’s hit at least eight PATs four straight weeks. He also averages about 45 yards per kickoff.
Wilharms said he’s happy McKelvey decided to try his leg at football and said the senior is still learning nuances of football, such as where to place the ball on kickoffs.
“He is a good athlete,” Wilharms said. “His PATs are consistent. We are definitely glad to have him on the team.”
Brady and Jacob shared duties last season, although by the end of the season Jacob was kicking off and Brady was handling the bulk of the extra points.
“At first, one of us would go out and kick and the next time the other one would go out there,” McKelvey said. “Toward the end of the season, I was better at extra points, and he was better at kicking off. It is cool to be on a team that scores a lot because you get to kick a lot.”
LCS has no trouble scoring. The Cougars are 6-1 and average 49.8 points per game.
Soccer continues to be McKelvey’s favorite sport. The Cougars are having a solid season on the pitch as well, and he is a big part of that team’s success too.
“I still love soccer,” McKelvey said.
Cougars soccer coach Nathan Sharpe said McKelvey is a team leader. He has three goals and three assists this fall. “He’s a captain and a key player on our team,” Sharpe said.
McKelvey said kicking the ball in soccer and kicking the football are very different things requiring different technique.
“It’s surprisingly different,” he said. “A soccer ball is a lot bigger. You have more room to hit it. You want to lean over and try and keep it toward the ground. A football you have to make a much different type of contact because you want to get it up into the air.
“The first time I kicked a football with no coaching, it was interesting. I had to try and completely switch how I was kicking.”
He’s learned the technique so much that this winter he is considering not playing basketball so he can go to football kicking camps. He’s hoping to become good enough to try out or walk-on to a football team in college.
“I didn’t really expect to be as consistent as I have been,” he said. “You watch college kickers, and even they miss sometimes. I work at it as much as I can. With soccer games, there are times I cannot go to football practice, but I try and get out there as much as I can.
“I think it would be awesome to kick in college,” he added. “I plan on going to some camps this winter. If I’m able to walk-on somewhere, that would be fine with me.”
Besides soccer, the McKelveys have a basketball background as well. Their dad Scott has coached boys and girls basketball in Lenawee County for years. He recently was hired as the boys varsity coach at Blissfield. The boys grew up being managers and hanging around the teams that Scott coached.
McKelvey is setting the bar high in the 8-player football record book. LCS still has two regular-season games remaining and is considered among the favorites to make a long postseason run – meaning he could push that extra point number a lot higher.
“I’m very happy I tried out for the team,” he said. “Being part of it is a lot of fun. The guys on the team have always treated me as part of the team. I really like being on the team. All the success we have makes it so much fun.”
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 DougDonnelly@hotmail.com with story ideas for Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.
PHOTOS (Top) Brett McKelvey prepares to kick off during a game this season. (Middle) McKelvey, with father Scott McKelvey and mother Melissa Dempsey. (Photos courtesy of Jeff Jameson/Lenawee Christian.)
MHSAA, MHSFCA to Provide Spring Evaluation Camps for College Football Hopefuls
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
March 25, 2023
The Michigan High School Athletic Association, in partnership with the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA), will be hosting first-ever Spring Evaluation Camps to provide athletes with aspirations of playing college football opportunities to show their skills and abilities to college coaches at one of five locations.
The one-day camps will take place between May 16-19 at Jenison High School, DeWitt High School, Jackson High School, Brighton High School and Detroit Country Day High School. The MHSAA’s involvement will allow for the opportunity for Division I college coaches to attend, and representatives from college football programs at all levels are expected.
Athletes who will be juniors or seniors in Fall 2023 may register to participate via a link on the Football page.
“This is an attempt by the MHSAA to help our athletes get exposure during the spring evaluation period in a way that does not intrude on spring sports,” said Brad Bush, an MHSAA assistant director and past high school and college football coach. “We are working with the MHSFCA to help put together a first-class experience for the athletes and college coaches.”
Cost is $20 per player, and each registrant will receive a shirt to wear based on the athlete’s graduation year and registration number so college coaches in attendance can monitor their camp performance. College coaches also will receive registration information for each athlete in attendance.
All athletes must have a coach from the athlete’s school staff present at the camp, and that coach must be a member of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association.
MHSFCA executive director Andrew Pratley called the Spring Evaluation Camps a tremendous opportunity for high school athletes in Michigan.
“We are very excited with the partnership with the MHSAA that allows our kids the opportunity to wear a helmet and do drills in front of college coaches in the spring at a minimal cost,” Pratley said. “College coaches are thrilled, and it's a unique opportunity to have the rules waived by the MHSAA at these events only in order to showcase the tremendous talent all over the great state of Michigan.”
The Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) has been devoted to the promotion of high school football since its inception in March 1972. The MHSFCA has more than 2,500 members and provides several educational and development opportunities for members and their athletes, including an annual coaching clinic, an annual leadership conference for coaches and potential team captains, and the annual summer East-West All-Star Game for graduated seniors. Additionally, the MHSFCA’s Leadership Development Alliance is in its third year of training coaches and offering veteran members of the association as mentors.
The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.