Performance: GR Catholic Central's Nolan Fugate

October 13, 2017

Nolan Fugate
Grand Rapids Catholic Central senior – Football

Fugate, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound running back, ran 37 times for 477 yards and five touchdowns in GRCC’s 57-50 win over Comstock Park on Oct. 6. His rushing yardage ranked fourth-most in MHSAA history for one game and second-most in the state since 1990, earning Fugate the Michigan Army National Guard “Performance of the Week.”

Also the leading rusher on last season’s team that won the Division 4 championship, Fugate has carried the ball 111 times for 1,137 yards and 13 touchdowns this fall – averaging 10 yards per carry. He's amassed those numbers despite limited attempts in four running clock games this fall. After coming up for the playoffs but seeing little action as a sophomore, and then moving into a prominent role the last two seasons, Fugate is fourth in GRCC history with 335 career carries, second with 2,537 career yards, tied for second with 27 career rushing touchdowns and fifth with a career average of 7.6 yards per carry. And like any good back, he knows to credit those clearing the way – Fugate follows an outstanding line led by 6-5, 270-pound Jalen Mayfield, who has committed to sign with University of Michigan.

Fugate also ran track last season for the first time in high school and plans to do so again this spring. He hopes to return to the basketball program as well – he played subvarsity his first two years before taking last season off. He’s aiming to continue his football career after high school and has interest from many of the state’s top Division II programs plus a few at the Division I mid-major and NAIA levels. Fugate is planning to study business and carries a 3.2 grade-point average. Wherever he goes, that program will get a proven winner – GRCC is 7-0 this fall heading into tonight’s Ottawa-Kent Conference Blue title-deciding matchup with reigning Division 5 champion Grand Rapids West Catholic, and the Cougars are 21-2 with Fugate on the roster.

Coach Todd Kolster said: "I think the world of Nolan. He is a very self-motivated young man. He is very mentally tough and has worked extremely hard to help lead our team. He is a great teammate and a high-character person. He's is a great competitor. ... He is one of the best tailbacks in the state of Michigan; he rushed for over 1,600 yards and 21 touchdowns a year ago. He could have very gaudy statistics and surpassed those totals already if I played him in those other (running clock) weeks." 

Performance Point: “We had a good gameplan coming in, and I think we executed really well and our line blocked really well and it was just a good night offensively,” Fugate said of the Comstock Park win. “I knew I was having a pretty good night. I knew I had some big runs, and I was just following my blocks, but I didn’t know the exact yards I had. I was actually pretty surprised (at the yardage total). I had some big runs the first possession, and I could see our offensive line executing their blocks well so I was figuring I would have a pretty big night. The first play we had the ball in the second half, I broke a 72-yard run. That was my favorite run because I broke out into the open and I just ran past everyone and I could hear the crowd screaming.”

Following Jalen: “He’s my best friend too, and it’s pretty special. You don’t get a chance to run behind the best lineman in the state very often, so I’m pretty fortunate. We shared a moment when we talked about how good of a night it was, and it was just a really special night overall.”

Great expectations: “We’ve just been listening to the coaching staff, and whatever they’ve asked we’ve been executing to the best of our ability. And we’ve been staying focused throughout the week trying to have the best practices we could have. We realize the expectations are high, so we just have to stay focused on each game and play united and just get better each day. You’ve just got to worry about one thing at a time and for that (opponent), and you can’t look ahead to the playoffs. … We knew the expectations were high, but I had faith. We definitely had more talent last year, but I feel like we’ve executed a lot better this year up to this point. I knew we could be special, and if we just keep working out each day and bringing it every day I think it will turn out really well.”

Running like “All Day” Adrian: “My favorite running back is probably (the Phoenix Cardinals’) Adrian Peterson, so growing up I always watched him. He’s a strong, explosive, physical runner. I like how he runs downhill and he’s always physical, and when he gets an opening he’s very explosive.”

Hooping like a football player: “A kid I grew up with (point guard Austin Braun) has been talking to me about (playing basketball). I was thinking about it, and I think I’m just going to do it. I think our team will do really well this year, so it would be fun to be a part of it. I’ll probably play really physical. I’ll probably be like the sixth man, bring intensity and defense and rebounding. That’ll probably be my job."

- Geoff Kimmerly, Second Half editor

Every week during the 2017-18 school year, Second Half and the Michigan Army National Guard will recognize a “Performance of the Week" from among the MHSAA's 750 member high schools.

The Michigan Army National Guard provides trained and ready forces in support of the National Military Strategy, and responds as needed to state, local, and regional emergencies to ensure peace, order, and public safety. The Guard adds value to our communities through continuous interaction. National Guard soldiers are part of the local community. Guardsmen typically train one weekend per month and two weeks in the summer. This training maintains readiness when needed, be it either to defend our nation's freedom or protect lives and property of Michigan citizens during a local natural disaster. 

Previous 2017-18 honorees:
October 5: Marissa Ackerman, Munising tennis - Read
September 28: Minh Le, Portage Central soccer - Read
September 21: Olivia Theis, Lansing Catholic cross country - Read
September 14: Maddy Chinn, Pontiac Notre Dame Prep volleyball - Read

PHOTOS: (Top) Grand Rapids Catholic Central’s Nolan Fugate runs away from the Comstock Park defense during last week’s 57-50 win. (Middle) Fugate prepares to take on a Comstock Park defender. (Photos by Murray Sports Photography.)

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.)