Multi-Skilled Hines Sparks Milan Charge

September 14, 2018

By Doug Donnelly
Special for Second Half

MILAN – It’s a good thing Tristen Hines doesn’t get tired.

“Tristen doesn’t want to come off the field, and we don’t want him to come off the field,” said Milan football coach Jesse Hoskins. “He’s that type of player.”

Hines is a 5-foot-11, 170-pound junior already in his third season on the varsity football team for Milan, which is off to a 3-0 start and tied atop the Huron League standings. During the past couple of seasons, he’s played running back, wide receiver and quarterback on offense as well as cornerback and strong safety on defense. He also returns kickoffs and punts.

No matter where he plays, he’s electric.

“The cool thing about Tristen is he doesn’t know how to be lazy,” Hoskins said. “He plays hard and enjoys it. He could play just about any offensive position. He’s a legitimate Division I recruit.”

Early in his career, Hines played mainly just defense for Milan. As a freshman, he made an impact on the Big Reds defense, intercepting seven passes and joining in on 76 tackles. As a sophomore, he moved into more of an offensive role. When the season began he was a wide receiver, but an injury to starting Milan quarterback Dyllan Jones forced Hoskins to put the athletic Hines into the QB spot.

“Our system fits a mobile type of quarterback and Tristen is just that, plus he passes the ball well,” Hoskins said. “This year, with D.J. (Dyllan Jones) returning and Hunter Aeschbacker at running back, we decided to keep Tristen at wide receiver.”

Hines was happy with the move back to wide receiver.

“I think for the team, that is the best position for me,” he said. “I like it better there. I like to go one-on-one with the defender and get out into space. If the defense must pay attention to me, that opens things up for the other guys.”

Hoskins said there are various plays in the Big Reds’ playbook to get the ball into Hines’ hands.

“We have a few wrinkles,” the seventh-year Milan coach said with a smile.

The performance Hines had last week in Milan’s 46-24 win over Flat Rock made Hoskins and the Milan coaches look like geniuses. Hines caught six passes for 201 yards and three touchdowns from his wideout spot, ran for a touchdown and returned a blocked field goal 80 yards for a fifth score.

In three games this season, Hines has 102 yards rushing, 323 receiving, 448 all-purpose yards and eight touchdowns. In Week 2, Hines rushed for one touchdown and had more than 100 receiving yards against Monroe St. Mary Catholic Central. It was a thrilling Milan victory, with the final touchdown coming with less than a minute left in the game.

Milan’s Evan Furtney caught the game-winner from Jones. Hines couldn’t believe the finish.

“We got the ball with four or five minutes left, which seemed like plenty of time,” he said. “In the huddle, I was like ‘All right, let’s get this down the field.’ But, we kept getting penalties and moving back. Finally, it was fourth down and it was like, ‘somebody has got to make a play.’ … I knew the ball wasn’t coming to me. When D.J. threw it up and Evan came down with it, I just started jumping up and down. That was crazy. I’ve never been in a game like that, where it came down to the final seconds.”

Hines and Furtney are best friends.

“I knew one of us was going to have to make a catch or make a play,” he said. “I was happy for him.”

The Big Reds host Riverview (2-1) tonight in Milan’s first home game of the season.

“It should be pretty exciting,” Hines said. “This year feels a lot like 2016 when we won the league. Last year, we were sort of expecting to be the best team in the league, but with injuries and everything, it didn’t work out.”

Milan did finish 5-5 last year and made the playoffs for the third consecutive season. The Big Reds have a long and prosperous football tradition. They have made the playoffs 17 times over the years and have had some outstanding football players, dating back to University of Michigan and American Football League standout Joe O’Donnell, for whom the Milan football stadium is named.

Hines looks like the next Big Red to play Division I college football. He’s received interest from several Mid-American Conference schools, from the University of Toledo to Eastern Michigan University. The University of Cincinnati has stayed in contact, and recently Indiana and Michigan State University assistant coaches have reached out to him. There are no offers yet, but Hines isn’t worried about that for now.

“I know that will happen eventually,” he said. “I don’t dwell on it. I am focused on my team right now.”

Hines said he’ll probably end up playing cornerback in college.

“That’s where I want to play,” he said. “When I first started football, back in the third grade, I was always on defense. I loved to hit. I think defense is where I’ll be in college.”

Hoskins thinks once one school puts an offer on the table for Hines, there will be a domino effect and other teams will follow. Hines just wants to keep his Big Reds in contention for a Huron League title and a playoff berth.

“I’m just focused on playing football for Milan and winning,” Hines said. “That’s what it is all about. That is what makes football fun, to win.”

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 Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Milan’s Tristen Hines pushes forward for another yard during last week’s win over Flat Rock. (Middle) Hines breaks for the end zone during a Week 1 victory at Bridgeport. (Photos courtesy of the Milan football program.)

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.)