Quick Study Central Lake Clinches 1st Title

November 18, 2017

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

MARQUETTE – Central Lake may not have been totally sure what it got itself into switching to 8-player football heading into this fall.

Clearly it didn’t take the Trojans long to figure things out.

A year after finishing 2-7 with 11 players on the field, Central Lake finished Saturday afternoon at the Superior Dome with its first football championship, downing Deckerville 32-30 in the inaugural 8-Player Division 1 Final.

The championship was the first for the school in any MHSAA tournament sport since claiming the Class D softball title in 1980. The Trojans also finished 13-0 this fall.

“Last year it was not even something. Or just growing up, you’re watching the Finals on TV … ‘I’m never going to be there,’ but it’s cool to watch,” Central Lake senior quarterback Gavin Mortensen said. “You dream about it. And then all of a sudden, you’re a state champion. It’s crazy.”

And so was the finish, as Mortensen put his team ahead to stay on a six-yard touchdown run with 2:49 to play. Central Lake came back from 10 points down with under a minute to play in the third quarter, riding a powerful running game to the final two of four rushing touchdowns on the day, while also halting two Deckerville fourth-quarter drives that reached the Trojans’ 21-yard line.

“Those get your heart pumping, don’t they, those stops? But what a great way to win,” Central Lake coach Rob Heeke said.

Junior running back Grant Papineau went over 2,000 yards rushing for the season, adding 183 for a final total of 2,067 while also rushing for his 26th touchdown of the fall. Junior Skyler Spangler had 101 yards and two scores on the ground to finish the season with 1,753 yards and 28 touchdowns rushing.

Mortensen, in addition to running the show, made it count when his number was called, adding a 49-yard touchdown pass to senior Jayce Hoogerhyde. And Hoogerhyde, who had 15 pass break-ups as a defensive back entering the game, made an equally significant play on that side of the ball batting down Deckerville’s final pass into the end zone.

Those are the guys who got most of the attention during the perfect run. But a most unlikely contributor deserved his share as well Saturday. Junior center Dalin Clark (6-foot, 265 pounds) left the game with an injury near the end of the first half. In came sophomore Vance Hoeksema (5-6, 140), who had played that position only a couple of times this fall. But the Central Lake attack just kept rolling.

“We just kinda rallied around Vance, and he did a great job,” Mortensen said. “After we got the first few bad snaps out of the way, exchange-wise, he did really well.

Guys on the line picked him up and told him what to do if he didn’t know, and it worked out.”

Hoogerhyde said it wasn’t until a 14-point Week 8 win over Onekama – that clinched for the Trojans the Midwest Central Michigan Conference championship – that he and his teammates started to realize what they might be capable of accomplishing this fall.

Deckerville had been to this level before, winning the 8-player championship in 2012 and finishing runner-up to two-time champion Powers North Central a year ago. That the Eagles (11-2) returned to the final game Saturday was impressive though, considering they replaced nearly their entire backfield from a year ago and then didn’t have injured leading rusher Cruz Ibarra for the last two games.

Senior Kenton Bowerman ran for 83 yards and also caught three passes for 93 yards and a score in the Final. Sophomore quarterback Isaac Keinath threw for three scores total.

“We’d love to win that state championship, but I think we overachieved maybe a little bit,” Deckerville coach Bill Brown said. “They really came together as a team midway through the season and as a head football coach, when you watch your kids and they come together and they’re playing as a team, and you’re getting those selfless acts … we have kids giving just everything they have out there. When you’re a coach, that’s all you ask for.

“I’m disappointed in the outcome of course. That doesn’t define this football team. We could play that game again, and we might win by two touchdowns.”

Spangler had 15 tackles, Mortensen 14, Papineau 13 and senior Dylan Michael 12 for Central Lake. Junior Curtis Vogel had 20 tackles and senior Wyatt Janowiak had 15 for the Eagles.  Senior Zach Ostrowski also caught a touchdown pass, and senior Brendan Hadley ran for a score.

Click for the full box score.

The MHSAA Playoffs are sponsored by the Michigan Army National Guard.

PHOTOS: (Top) Central Lake quarterback Gavin Mortensen begins to turn the corner on the way to scoring the go-head touchdown Saturday. (Middle) Deckerville’s Wyatt Janowiak hauls in a third-quarter touchdown pass over the tight coverage of Jayce Hoogerhyde. (Photos by John Johnson.)

MHSAA, MHSFCA to Provide Spring Evaluation Camps for College Football Hopefuls

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor

March 27, 2023

The Michigan High School Athletic Association, in partnership with the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA), will be hosting first-ever Spring Evaluation Camps to provide athletes with aspirations of playing college football opportunities to show their skills and abilities to college coaches at one of five locations.

The one-day camps will take place between May 15-18 at Jenison High School, DeWitt High School, Jackson High School, Brighton High School and Detroit Country Day High School. The MHSAA’s involvement will allow for the opportunity for Division I college coaches to attend, and representatives from college football programs at all levels are expected.

Athletes who will be juniors or seniors in Fall 2023 may register to participate via a link on the Football page.

“This is an attempt by the MHSAA to help our athletes get exposure during the spring evaluation period in a way that does not intrude on spring sports,” said Brad Bush, an MHSAA assistant director and past high school and college football coach. “We are working with the MHSFCA to help put together a first-class experience for the athletes and college coaches.”

Cost is $20 per player, and each registrant will receive a shirt to wear based on the athlete’s graduation year and registration number so college coaches in attendance can monitor their camp performance. College coaches also will receive registration information for each athlete in attendance.

All athletes must have a coach from the athlete’s school staff present at the camp, and that coach must be a member of the Michigan High School Football Coaches Association.

MHSFCA executive director Andrew Pratley called the Spring Evaluation Camps a tremendous opportunity for high school athletes in Michigan.

“We are very excited with the partnership with the MHSAA that allows our kids the opportunity to wear a helmet and do drills in front of college coaches in the spring at a minimal cost,” Pratley said. “College coaches are thrilled, and it's a unique opportunity to have the rules waived by the MHSAA at these events only in order to showcase the tremendous talent all over the great state of Michigan.”

The Michigan High School Football Coaches Association (MHSFCA) has been devoted to the promotion of high school football since its inception in March 1972. The MHSFCA has more than 2,500 members and provides several educational and development opportunities for members and their athletes, including an annual coaching clinic, an annual leadership conference for coaches and potential team captains, and the annual summer East-West All-Star Game for graduated seniors. Additionally, the MHSFCA’s Leadership Development Alliance is in its third year of training coaches and offering veteran members of the association as mentors.

The MHSAA is a private, not-for-profit corporation of voluntary membership by more than 1,500 public and private senior high schools and junior high/middle schools which exists to develop common rules for athletic eligibility and competition. No government funds or tax dollars support the MHSAA, which was the first such association nationally to not accept membership dues or tournament entry fees from schools. Member schools which enforce these rules are permitted to participate in MHSAA tournaments, which attract more than 1.3 million spectators each year.