Ruddy Makes Biggest Plays at Most Crucial Times as Whiteford Wins 2nd Title

By Paul Costanzo
Special for

November 25, 2022

DETROIT – When the Ottawa Lake Whiteford offense took the field Friday with the Division 8 championship on the line, head coach Todd Thieken had a message for his offensive coordinator:

Put the ball in Shea Ruddy’s hands.

Need to convert a crucial fourth down near midfield?

Put it in Ruddy’s hands. 

Facing a 3rd-and-goal from the 7?

Let Ruddy make the decision to run or pass.

The senior quarterback paid off his coach’s confidence, making the plays the Bobcats needed and leading a go-ahead touchdown drive in Whiteford’s 26-20 victory against Ubly at Ford Field.

“I want us doing things that he’s either running it, or he’s directing the play in some way, shape or form,” Thieken said. “Obviously there were some big plays – (Hunter DeBarr and Jake Iott) made some big runs on that drive, (Ruddy) did, as well, big catch out of (Kolby Masserant). When I’ve got guys like this, I’m not going to sit here and lie and say I wasn’t nervous because the game’s on the line. But I definitely had a quiet confidence about what we had in front of us.”

Ruddy finished the game with 177 yards of total offense and two touchdowns to lead Whiteford to its second Division 8 title, the previous coming in 2017. 

The Bobcats’ Shea Ruddy (1) pushes forward with Ubly’s Parker Peruski (68) and Evan Peruski (10) working to take him down. His second rushing touchdown of the day came with 1 minute, 59 seconds to play, breaking a 20-all tie. 

“Originally I was just going to throw it,” Ruddy said. “But there was a lot of room to run so I just tucked it and figured I could get there.”

The touchdown run capped an 80-yard drive that took 7:42 off the clock. It included a 4th-and-5 conversion near midfield in which Ruddy rushed for seven yards. Nine of the 17 plays on the drive were either a pass or Ruddy run. 

“That kid’s a heck of a player,” Ubly coach Eric Sweeney said. “That’s the best athlete I’ve seen this year. He’s quick, explosive and when you get a kid like that in space, he’s tough to tackle.”

It appeared that Ruddy had made it 28-20 with a two-point conversion, but a replay review showed he stepped out of bounds just prior to hitting the pylon. That gave Ubly (13-1) some renewed hope going into its final drive, but the Bearcats couldn’t move the ball. A fourth down throw, hurried by immediate Whiteford pressure off the edge, was knocked away by Ruddy’s younger brother, Ryin, and Whiteford (14-0) was able to run out the clock in the victory formation.

“That was probably one of the best high school football games I’ve ever been a part of,” Thieken said. “I’ve been coaching football for over 30 years, and the way that both teams out there just battled right down to the wire, the way the teams were going at it. … The way we finished that game was a testament to all 51 kids on our football roster and the way they worked since last June.”

Whiteford’s go-ahead drive came after Ubly had erased a two-touchdown deficit and captured the game’s momentum.

The Bearcats – who were making their third Finals appearance and first since 2020 – went down 12-0 in the first quarter, and trailed 20-6 in the third before turning things around. 

They did it by not straying from the gameplan they’ve had all season – running the ball straight at their opponent. 

Ubly’s Luke Volmering (11) wraps up Whiteford’s Kolby Masserant.Seth Maurer scored both second-half touchdowns, one on a 31-yard run, and the other on a 9-yard run. Ubly rushed for 107 yards on 12 carries during the third quarter alone.

“The resiliency of these kids? They’re tough,” Sweeney said. “Cornfield tough is what I would say. They never quit, which I wouldn’t expect these kids to quit. They really battled. I couldn’t be prouder. We have to come down here and win one of these, but the kids played hard and left it all out on the field. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

Whiteford jumped out to its 12-0 lead thanks in part to an Ubly fumble on its opening possession. The Bobcats capitalized with a 26-yard TD run by DeBarr. 

After a defensive stop, the Bobcats went 80 yards on 14 plays, scoring on a 1-yard run by Shea Ruddy. 

Ubly would make it 12-6 with a 2-yard touchdown run by Mark Heilig. The drive was set up by an Evan Peruski interception at the Whiteford 30-yard line. 

Whiteford stretched the lead to 20-6 right after the half, as it went 80 yards on 12 plays, scoring on a 4-yard run from DeBarr. Ruddy ran in the two-point try.

DeBarr finished with 94 yards rushing and the two touchdowns for Whiteford, while Ruddy had 65 yards on the ground and 112 yards on 8-of-12 passing. He also had an interception and tied his brother for the team lead with 12 tackles. 

Masserant had five catches for 82 yards, and Iott had 11 tackles.

Maurer finished with 129 yards rushing for Ubly, while Heilig had 82. 

Canden Peruski led the Ubly defense with 14 tackles, while Aiden Mackowiak had 13.

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS (Top) Whiteford coach Todd Thieken presents the Division 8 championship trophy to his team Saturday at Ford Field. (Middle) The Bobcats’ Shea Ruddy (1) pushes forward with Ubly’s Parker Peruski (68) and Evan Peruski (10) working to take him down. (Below) Ubly’s Luke Volmering (11) wraps up Whiteford’s Kolby Masserant. (Click for more from Hockey Weekly Action Photos.)

Addison Emerges from Difficult Offseason Focused on Embracing Challenges Ahead

By Doug Donnelly
Special for

September 26, 2023

ADDISON – Addison’s football team was dealt multiple blows this past offseason, enough to bring many teams to their knees. 

After going 5-5 last fall with a young team, the Panthers were expecting big things in 2023. But tragedy struck twice. JSoutheast & Borderunior Chad Miller, a fullback and safety, died in July. Starting linebacker Jay Griewahn, also a junior, was diagnosed with leukemia and began chemotherapy that same month.

Add in the transfer of a starting offensive lineman, and losing three expected contributors from a team of fewer than 30 players looked difficult to overcome. 

Yet, through five games, Addison is undefeated and ranks at the top of the MHSAA playoff points list in Division 8. The Panthers have turned to what their coaches have been teaching them for years – control only what you can control. 

“I felt strongly that we would embrace the challenge and not make excuses, because we just don’t allow it,” said Addison head coach Joshua Lindeman.  

“We can’t control everything, right? It’s what we instill in kids every single day. The football team is an extension of the classroom. Anything you do through education and educational athletics is preparing you to become a man. That is really what we build our entire program around. We talk about it daily.” 

Lindeman is in his 10th season as the Addison head coach and recently passed the 50-win mark. He said it took a couple of years to build the current culture at the school in southwest Lenawee County, but seasons like this one – where the team comes together to overcome adversity – shows it is working. 

“There are going to be events in your life that are going to happen that you can’t control,” he said. “Everybody knows this, whether you are a faith-driven person or not. There are events in our lives that are out of our control. We can’t waste energy or time and effort on those things. 

“The only thing we can focus on is our response to those events.” 

Addison also has remained true to its culture when it comes to toughness on the football field, too. Lindeman employs a full house T formation, an offense he learned while playing at nearby Hudson. In most games, as many as four backs carry the ball at least eight times apiece. Spencer Brown had 19 carries in Friday’s win over Jonesville, by far the most of any Addison back in a single game this season. 

“That doesn’t change,” Lindeman said of the offense. “We don’t get envious about who carries the ball. We teach that to our backs. If you ask anybody about our program, about who gets taken care of in our program … they’ll tell you the linemen. 

“Football is so many times glorified by the guy carrying the ball or the guy throwing the ball,” Lindeman added. “I don’t care who has the ball. I care about the seven guys up front. That’s where football is won or lost, no matter what anybody says.” 

Panthers coach Joshua Lindeman greets his players before a game.Addison has been an offensive juggernaut, scoring 258 points over five games. That includes wins of 50-14, 60-27, 58-14, 50-28 and 38-14, making the Panthers one of the highest-scoring teams in the state. They have 10 pass completions all season. 

Brown is a perfect example of a player who has embraced the Addison culture. Coming in as a freshman, Brown shied away from contact. Once he hit the weight room and grew into his body, he became a bruising runner who fights for tough yards inside but has the speed to break long runs. 

“When I came in as a freshman, I was tall and skinny,” Brown said. “I didn’t want anything to do with contact or someone touching me. As a sophomore, I started lifting, and last year things clicked.” 

He said the team has remained close through the difficult offseason. 

“It was hard losing a couple of guys, but you just have to look at the next guy up and lock in and do your job,” Brown said. “It’s talked about. It would be great to have those guys with us, but you just have to tell the guy there now to fill your spot and play your role.” 

Brown is one of four captains with fellow seniors Jaxen Sword and Gabe Pepper, plus junior Joe Clark. 

“Our captains say the right thing,” Lindeman said. “All four of them have done a really good job.” 

This week Addison hosts Homer on Thursday in hopes of improving to 6-0. 

“The mindset is to keep working hard in practice,” Brown said. “We are trying to go undefeated here.” 

The Panthers know some difficult games lie ahead. No matter what happens, Lindeman will continue to do things like shake hands with every player after every practice and game and tell his players he loves them. 

“All of that stuff creates the word culture that everybody speaks about,” Lindeman said. “It’s an identity. It’s not unnormal to see our football players in the hallway and they tell me they love me, and I say I love you back.” 

Doug DonnellyDoug 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 Jackson, Washtenaw, Hillsdale, Lenawee and Monroe counties.

PHOTOS (Top) Addison’s Spencer Brown (22) attempts to elude a Detroit Voyageur defender during a 50-14 Week 1 win. (Middle) Panthers coach Joshua Lindeman greets his players before a game. (Photos by Deloris Clark-Osborne.)