Montague Follows QB's Unstoppable Lead

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

January 22, 2021

DETROIT – Montague football coach Patrick Collins was well prepared Friday night. 

After a week of getting emotional when asked what it would be like coaching his son, Drew, for the final time in the MHSAA Division 6 Final, he told himself that he wouldn’t cry again if asked the question after the game. 

He accomplished that feat, making him perfect on the night. 

The Collins family will be celebrating their final game together forever, as they claimed Montague’s third Finals title with a 40-14 victory over Clinton at Ford Field. 

“You can’t finish any better than that,” said Patrick Collins, who has been at the helm for all three Montague titles. “How does it get any better? It’s been a phenomenal run. Just pinch me, man. I just can’t believe it. I think all the coaches feel like (the players are) all our sons. We treat them all the same. … It’s special, because we’re tight. There’s a lot of love and a lot of guys playing for each other.” 

While the postgame press conference was tear free, the Montague sideline was not as the clock ticked down in the final quarter. A program that had come agonizingly close in each of the past two years – losing in the Final in 2018 and losing a thriller of a Semifinal in 2019 – had broken through for the first time since winning back-to-back titles in 2008 and 2009. 

“Everybody on this football team, coaches, players, trainers – everybody on this football team loves high school football,” said Drew Collins, the Montague senior quarterback who accounted for five touchdowns on the night. “I love high school football. I love these coaches. I love my friends on the team. I love everybody on the team. I love the community. It’s bittersweet when you win a state championship when you’re a senior because it’s all over.” 

Drew Collins, who was The Associated Press Division 5-6 Player of the Year, made the most of his final game in a Montague uniform, throwing for 244 yards and three touchdowns on 15-of-19 passing. He also rushed for 51 yards and two scores.  

That led an offensive attack which put up 390 total yards and scored on all but two of its possessions – one of which ended on downs late in the fourth quarter as the Wildcats were attempting to run out the clock. 

“I just think they can do it all,” Clinton coach Jeremy Fielder said. “When you look at their team, look at what they have up front, look at the athletes they have in space, then you put a quarterback on that team, and you put a very experienced team out there, as well. That’s a lot to deal with. They’re a great football team, and I give them a lot of credit; they’re a great program.” 

All three of Collins’ touchdown passes went to Sam Smith (nine, 44 and 26 yards), who had five receptions for 96 yards total. Tugg Nichols added five catches of his own for 89 yards, while Dylan Everett had 52 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. 

While Montague’s dynamic offense put on a show, it was the defense’s second-half performance that allowed the Wildcats to pull away. Clinton (10-2) trailed 19-14 at the half but had put together a pair of 80-yard drives. The first finished with an eight-yard George Ames run, and was fueled by a long Brayden Randolph run. The other was a clock-killing masterpiece fullhouse backfields are known for and was closed out with a two-yard Bradyn Lehman run. 

Each of those drives followed a Montague drive that ended with a touchdown pass from Collins to Smith. The Wildcats took the halftime lead with Everett’s two-yard touchdown run. 

Clinton’s first two drives of the second half, however, ended with turnovers – the first on downs, and the second an interception by Montague’s Trey Mikkelsen. The Wildcats turned both turnovers into touchdowns – Collins’ third TD pass to Smith, and a nine-yard Collins TD rush – and started to put the game away. Collins’ final touchdown run of the game, a 23-yarder in the fourth quarter, erased any doubt. 

“I thought the coaches did a great job – our staff is phenomenal,” Patrick Collins said. “We did some adjustments. But really, this team is run by the players, and it starts with the seniors. Their determination is what makes a difference. It was about their heart coming out in the second half and finding the energy to stack up to a great Clinton team, honestly. That Clinton team can bring it, and they brought it today.” 

Randolph led the way for Clinton in his final game, rushing for 194 yards on 23 carries. He also had eight tackles, while Lehman led the Clinton defense with nine tackles, and Nik Shadley had six.  

“We’re fortunate, we have about 15 or 16 seniors, and at our level, you win with seniors,” Fielder said. “We were able to make some key plays at some key times, and I think it was really big for us, too, when we got shut down (for the statewide pause), we had that senior leadership. We had a group of seniors who had won a wrestling state championship together last year, so they’ve been here before. As a coach, you’re looking at these guys in the huddle, and you’re looking at these guys on the sidelines, you know you’re in pretty good shape. We just ran into a team that was outstanding.” 

Izac Jarka and Colton Blankstrom each had eight tackles to lead the Montague defense, while Mikkelsen and Alex Waruszewski each had seven. 

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Montague celebrates its first Football Finals championship Saturday since 2009. (Middle) The Wildcats’ Samuel Smith breaks through an opening as Clinton’s Bradyn Lehman (6) and others close in. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

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.