Program Builder Boyd Honored by Our Lady

October 12, 2016

By Keith Dunlap
Special for Second Half

WATERFORD – Mike Boyd always had a grand vision how his last home game as head coach at Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes would play out.

As it got into the later stages of a nearly 50-year tenure as football coach, athletic director and so much more at the school, Boyd had one specific idea for how he wanted to go out.

“I always said that the last game I coached before I retired, I was going to play it here under the lights,” said Boyd, referring to the field at the school that doesn’t have permanent lights. “I didn’t get a chance.”

Boyd did not, since in April 2013 he decided to retire as football coach from WOLL after a 46 year-career in order to move full-time to Sarasota, Florida.

However, last Friday proved to be the next best thing for Boyd and the Our Lady of the Lakes community.

In a ceremony that was more than three years in the making after he made his retirement official, Boyd was brought back for the honor of having the entire athletic complex at Our Lady of the Lakes named after him.

To top it all off, the ceremony took place under portable lights in what doubled as the first night game ever at the school.

The game was against Royal Oak Shrine, which is not only the biggest rival for Our Lady of the Lakes, but coached by Boyd’s longtime best friend in coaching, John Goddard.

All anyone needs to do is look at MHSAA record book for evidence that it was a no-brainer for Our Lady of the Lakes to name the athletic complex after Boyd, one of the state’s all-time greatest prep athletic figures.

As football coach, Boyd won 357 games in his 46 years, which currently is good for fourth place on the all-time wins list for coaches in that sport.

He led the Lakers to three appearances in MHSAA football championship games, with the zenith of his coaching career on the gridiron coming in 2002 when his Our Lady of the Lakes team won its only Finals title in school history with a 13-10 overtime win over Gaylord St. Mary in Division 8.

Facing a 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line that day, Boyd didn’t hesitate in sending his offense out to go for the win on a do-or-die running play, and the decision paid off when running back Murray Percival broke the goal line to give Boyd his long-awaited title.

The jubilation was apparent on Boyd with how high he jumped over and over again in celebration following the handshake line.

While that was the only time Boyd celebrated an MHSAA championship in football, he did so plenty of times on the softball diamond.

Boyd led Our Lady of the Lakes to what remains a team state-record eight MHSAA championships in softball, going a perfect 8-for-8 in title game appearances and finishing with 703 career wins before retiring from that sport in 2007.

During his tenure, Boyd also coached two games for the hockey team, track & field and started the baseball program by coaching it for its first year of existence.

When not on a playing surface, Boyd was a principal, bus driver, the athletic director and overall face of not only what has become one of the state’s best small-school athletic programs, but the school as a whole.

One of Boyd’s big contributions was creating the home football field at Our Lady of the Lakes behind its school in stunningly quick fashion after some unexpected news.

Our Lady of the Lakes used to play home games at other high schools or middle schools in Waterford, but that changed suddenly in 2001 before a scheduled home game against Royal Oak Shrine.

“They got a new school board one year,” Boyd said. “We used to pay like $250 a game. They came back and said ‘We want $1,200 a game.’ The Dads club got together and put (the press box) up on one week and got the field ready.”

Indeed, in a matter of days a three-story press box was built (fully furnished later in the season) and space for a football field was created (the right side of it through the infield of the baseball diamond) to allow Our Lady of the Lakes to play games on its campus.

It was fitting that the first home game in 2001 was against Shrine and that the ceremony last week was against Shrine, given his nearly 50-year friendship with Goddard.

The two had a nice chat on Shrine’s bench before the game last Friday, and one can only imagine the stories that were re-hashed.

In fact, when Boyd announced his retirement in 2013, he said how much he would miss playing against “that old turkey” in Goddard.

No doubt, Goddard misses competing against Boyd just as much.

“One year he had a kid that got hurt during practice during that week and he shows up at our place for a game, and after kickoff he comes out and starts running a single-wing,” Goddard said. “I go, ‘What the heck is this offense he is running?’ We beat them, but it took us half a game to figure what he was doing. He made it up on Saturday and we played on Sunday. He was a great coach.”

Boyd still follows the Our Lady of the Lakes program from Florida, watching film online and communicating regularly with current Our Lady of the Lakes head coach Josh Sawicki, a player on that 2002 title team – although Boyd was quick to point out he wants no part in decision-making with the Lakes team. “He’s his own coach,” Boyd said of Sawicki.

Boyd also returns to Michigan every August to help out with preseason practices for Lake Orion, which is coached by his son-in-law, Chris Bell, and he visits Sawicki at his preseason practices while in the area.

Before the game last Friday, Sawicki spoke about how little the topic of the ceremony came up with Boyd during conversations in the days leading up to the game.

“He was talking to me Wednesday or Thursday night, and there was not one question about (the ceremony),” Sawicki said. “It was all about the game plan. ‘What have you got? What have they got? What will you do if they do this? Watch out for Goddard because he likes to do this and likes to do that.’ Still to this day, that was all he was talking about.”

Sawicki said doing things without fanfare is who “Coach” has always been, and it’s a legacy that will be carried on in name now that the athletic complex is named after Boyd.

More importantly, it will also be carried on in spirit.

“He built that brand,” Sawicki said. “It’s the responsibility of the coaches and the players to continue that brand on. That is what we are focused on doing.”

PHOTOS: (Top) Our Lady of the Lakes football coach Mike Boyd hoists the Division 8 championship trophy in 2002 after his team defeated Gaylord St. Mary at the Pontiac Silverdome. (Middle) Boyd (left) receives a plaque from Rev. Lawrence Delonnay, Our Lady’s pastor, on Friday to recognize the naming of the school’s athletic complex in Boyd’s honor.

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.)