'Sailor Salute' Honors Those Who Serve

September 5, 2016

By Tom Kendra
Special for Second Half

It’s hard to believe a game with the magnitude of Zeeland West at Muskegon Mona Shores could be anti-climactic.

But that was certainly the case on a special night Thursday at Sailor Stadium in Muskegon, where the real story unfolded before the opening kickoff.

The “Sailor Salute” was a massive tribute to all of those who serve their country and their community, combining the magic of a high school football game with military responder vehicles, a U.S. Army Lakota Helicopter, 300 motorcycles, 1,500 students and community members decked out in red, white and blue singing “God Bless America” and the national anthem on the field and then two flyovers by the Hooligan Formation Flying Flight Team.

And that was all before the game began.

“We have done a military appreciation night for quite a few years now, but this year we decided to try and step it up a little bit,” said Mona Shores athletic director Ryan Portenga, explaining a pre-game event which drew national television exposure. “These people that serve our country and our communities deserve it. So we just kept bringing in more groups and ended up with huge, patriotic community event.”

The pre-game festivities went off pretty much without a hitch, helped by sunny skies and ideal temperatures in the low 70s.

The football game capped off a day where Mona Shores also hosted volleyball, soccer and tennis competitions. School officials opened the gates to the stadium at 5 p.m. to allow time for fans to walk around the north side of the track and explore and get pictures with 10 different military and emergency responder vehicles.

Around 6:30 p.m., an estimated 300 riders from different motorcycle groups who support military veterans roared into the stadium and filled the south side of the track. At 6:50 p.m., the community choir joined the marching band on the field for two emotional songs, timing things perfectly as the four military planes flew by in their precise formation, white smoke trailing them, just as the giant choir sang “home of the brave” with a booming crescendo.

Having to compete against a pre-game show to end all pre-game shows, the game itself certainly held up its end of the bargain – continuing the excitement for more than 4,000 fans in a classic matchup of the wing-T system and precision execution of Zeeland West against the speed and athletic ability of Mona Shores.

Zeeland West put on a power blocking and running clinic and jumped out to a 24-14 halftime lead. Mona Shores fought back valiantly in the second half, sparked by a 95-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Tristan Robbins to junior wideout Keyshawn Summerville late in the third quarter, then taking its first lead, 28-24, on a 14-yard run by bruising running back Marcus Collins on its next possession.

But that’s when the Dux did what they do best, churning out a 16-play, 73-yard drive – using up more than 7 minutes off the clock – before senior Drake Fincannon scored what proved to be the winning touchdown on a 1-yard plunge with 1:50 remaining.

Perhaps inspired by the pre-game festivities, the Sailors did not quit. Shores marched down to the 10-yard line, and Summerville made an amazing one-handed catch in the back of the end zone on fourth down, but was unable to get a foot down in-bounds.

“Tonight was a terrific game from both teams,” said veteran Zeeland West coach John Shillito. “We’re happy to be part of something so good. I compliment Mona Shores for doing it in such a classy way where it didn’t interfere with the football game at all.”

In terms of an early-season, nonconference matchup, high school games don’t get much bigger.

Zeeland West is the defending Division 4 champion, with that latest title its third in the past five years and fourth overall since its first year of football in 2005 – all under Shillito, who previously took Muskegon Orchard View (1995 and 1999) and East Kentwood (2002) to MHSAA championship games.

Mona Shores, meanwhile, is emerging as a new football force after years of struggle. The Sailors made the playoffs for the first time in school history in 2013, then followed that up with a run to Ford Field and a Division 2 runner-up finish in 2014. Shores registered its first 9-0 regular season last year, before falling to rival Muskegon, the winningest program in state history, in the District Finals.

Shores graduated 21 of 22 starters off its 2015 team, but has proven in a big opening win over Holland West Ottawa and its hard-fought loss to Zeeland West that it’s a program that isn’t going anywhere. The tough schedule continues this week with a trip to Rockford before Ottawa-Kent Conference Black play begins.

The victory moves Zeeland West to 2-0, after winning a grueling defensive battle, 14-9, over visiting Cedar Springs in Week 1. The Dux, who compete in the O-K Green, play another blockbuster nonconference game this week at defending Division 5 champion Grand Rapids West Catholic in not only a battle of unbeatens, but also defending title winners.

But no matter what happens the rest of the way, it’s unlikely that either team or its fans will be part of another event quite like the Sailor Salute.

“It was an awesome community atmosphere, and on top of that, a great football game,” Mona Shores coach Matt Koziak said afterward. “If you love high school football and the United States of America, this was the place to be.”

Tom Kendra worked 23 years at The Muskegon Chronicle, including five as assistant sports editor and the final six as sports editor through 2011. E-mail him at [email protected] with story ideas for Muskegon, Oceana, Mason, Lake, Oceola, Mecosta and Newaygo counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) The Mona Shores logo on the field was painted red, white and blue as part of the Sailor Salute tribute to those who serve the country and the community Sept. 1 at Mona Shores High School. (Middle above) More than 300 motorcycle riders who support veterans roared into Sailor Stadium shortly before kickoff as part of the Sailor Salute. (Middle below) A giant choir of 1,500 students and community members from both Mona Shores and Zeeland West sing “God Bless America” and the national anthem as part of the tribute. (Below) The Hooligan Formation Flying Flight Team flies high over Sailor Stadium at the conclusion of the national anthem. (Photos courtesy of Mona Shores High School.)

Ubly Offense, Kicker Pile Up Record Book Listings During Championship Run

By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com 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.