Preview: '8' Finalists Light Up Board

November 21, 2013

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Legacy Field in Greenville will welcome Friday two teams that have steamrolled the competition on the way to this season’s MHSAA 8-Player Final – and two of the most prolific offensive stars in the young history of the sport in this state.

Rapid River quarterback Jake Pearson will be making his second MHSAA Finals appearance, while Peck running back Cody Abrego also enters the season’s last game with more than 2,000 yards rushing. 

Both will be added to the MHSAA and national record books when this season is done – and together with their teammates could make this championship game one of the most fast-paced score fests of this entire season.

Tickets for the 8-player Final cost $8. Can’t make the trip? Watch it live on, with live audio streaming on Because of conflicts with collegiate and professional games, the game will be broadcast delayed on FOX Sports Detroit at 9 a.m. Saturday and again on Nov. 26 at 8 p.m. The on-demand video archive will be available shortly after the game’s conclusion at MHSAA.TV.

Here’s a look at the contenders:

Coach: Rob McDaniel, third season (20-11)
League finish: First in North Central Thumb 8-Man League
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 61-38 and 73-34 (Semifinal) over Lawrence, 24-12 over Kinde-North Huron.
Players to watch: RB/CB Cody Abrego, 5-11/170, jr. (2,121 yards, 35 TDs rushing); RB/CB Caleb Dudley, 5-9/160, jr. (980 yards, 16 TDs rushing); QB/LB Tristen Haener, 6-3/210, sr. (54-98, 1,166 yards, 12 TDs passing).
Outlook: Peck is in its second season of 8-player football but had recent success in the 11-player game as well – the Pirates won 10 games in both 2001 and 2003 and made the playoffs three straight seasons from 2006-08. Their perfect run this fall has included a pair of wins apiece over 2011 MHSAA 8-player champion Carsonville-Port Sanilac and 2012 champion Deckerville. Abrego ran for 449 yards and seven touchdowns in last week’s Semifinal win over Lawrence, when Peck broke 70 points for the first time and 50 for the seventh. The 8-player game is generally more high-scoring than the 11-player format, but Peck’s defense is solid – the Pirates give up only 15 points per game and held half their opponents to single digits.

Coach: Steve Ostrenga, 15th season (82-66)
League finish: First in Bridge 8-Man Alliance
Championship history: MHSAA runner-up 2011.
Best wins: 45-28 over Cedarville, 74-42 over Bellaire, 40-8 over Kinde-North Huron in the Semifinal, 50-21 over Engadine in the Regional Final.
Players to watch: QB/LB Jake Pearson, 6-3/220, sr. (2,525 yards, 42 TDs rushing; 55-92, 1,009 yards, 15 TDs passing); RB/DB Pat Pryal, 5-10/155, sr. (791 yards, nine TDs rushing); FL/DB Mike Casey, 5-10/165, jr. (16 catches, 349 yards, five TDs receiving).
Outlook: Pearson has been incredible, adding 359 yards rushing, three touchdown runs and two touchdown passes in Rapid River’s Semifinal win. The Rockets are in the Final for the second time in three seasons, and Pearson threw touchdown passes for the team’s two scores in its 2011 championship game loss to Carsonville-Port Sanilac. Rival Cedarville, loser by only 17 points, came the closest to challenging Rapid River this season as the Rockets also were sound defensively giving up just under 20 points per game despite playing six during the regular season against eventual playoff teams.

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.