Schoolcraft Soccer Record Setter Brings Scoring Touch to Football Field

By Pam Shebest
Special for

September 21, 2021

SCHOOLCRAFT — Soccer phenom Hannah Thompson has a flare for finding the net.

Southwest CorridorThis fall, the Schoolcraft High School senior is aiming even higher – in the most literal sense.

Thompson is the place kicker on the Eagles’ football team, and in the team’s three games so far, she has connected on 4 of 5 point-after attempts.

The first female varsity football player in school history, Thompson is no stranger to breaking records.

Her 87 goals in soccer last spring not only set an MHSAA girls record for most goals in a season, but also eclipsed the boys mark.

Kristi Vandeberghe, a standout at Mount Clemens, had set the previous girls record with 66 goals in 2001. The boys record of 76 goals was set in 2009 by Dearborn’s Soony Saad.

While both sports involve kicking, the vivacious senior said there are differences.

“In soccer, you’re supposed to keep your body over the ball,” she said. “In football, you’re supposed to lean back so the ball goes higher. That’s probably the biggest difference.

“In football, if you try to kick as hard as you can, like for power, the ball can go off to the side. In soccer, you want to kick it hard.”

Head football coach Nathan Ferency, who teaches health and physical education at the high school, had tried to convince Thompson to join the team since she expressed an interest as a freshman.

Hannah Thompson“I took my health class outside one spring morning and worked her out a little bit to see if she could kick — and she can actually kick,” he added with a grin.

Ferency immediately offered her a spot on the junior varsity team, but since she plays travel hockey in the fall, she opted to concentrate on that until this year.

Her high school soccer coach, Scott Thompson, also her dad, has no problem with her playing football, “and my (soccer) teammates think it’s cool and amazing,” the senior said. 

Nathan Ferency“They’re very supportive of me. My (travel) coaches do not like it whatsoever. They’re not a fan.”

Her dad sees some positives coming from football.

“As her coach, I have no issues with her playing football,” he said. “She’s working on driving through the ball and working on her leg muscles.

“Being in high school, I didn’t see any issues. As a place kicker, she has minimal opportunities for getting hurt.”

Ferency is aware that soccer is her main interest.

“We’re never going to put her into a kickoff situation where she has to hit somebody,” he said. “We feel comfortable in a PAT or field goal situation where she’s protected and unlikely to have contact.

“We want to preserve her senior year of soccer. That’s her love, and we want to make sure her goals are met.”

Thompson, who has committed to play soccer at Eastern Michigan University, said the hardest part of football is putting on the equipment, especially clipping down the shoulder pads.

“I wear youth large pads so they’re like the middle school pads, and it’s hard to get them clipped down,” she said, laughing while she demonstrated with her hands.

Pads also posed a bit of a problem for her debut.

“The first game, the girdle has the hip pads and the butt pads,” she said. “The pants have pads on the front and on the knees.

“I didn’t know you only had to wear one set. The first game I wore both and I had two pads everywhere. I didn’t know until the next game.”

Thompson said she is also developing her neck muscles.

“The helmet’s really heavy,” she said. “My neck’s getting strong.

“I have a big head, so I have to wear size large. But I got a new helmet that no one’s ever worn, so that’s good.”

Unlike the constant action in soccer, Thompson waits on the sidelines for the nod to play.

When she got the call during that first game, “I wasn’t really nervous because it happened super fast, so I didn’t really think about it,” she said. 

“It was exciting. I’m supposed to keep my head down when I kick it so I don’t see it, but I looked up and saw it going (over).”

She almost had a chance for a field goal that would have clinched a win for the Eagles.

“Week 1, we were down two points late in the game and getting close to field goal range,” Ferency said.

Schoolcraft soccer“Unfortunately we threw an interception before she had an opportunity, but I was prepared to let her kick the game-winner at that point.”

Thompson practices with the football team twice a week and with her travel team twice a week.

“She puts the work in,” Ferency said. “We go through her kicking game, and she conditions and runs with the team afterwards.

“She makes it a point to do everything she can to be a part of the team, and we accept her just like anybody else.”

Pressure in football and soccer is nothing compared to pressure she felt twice before in her young life.

When she was 5 years old, she was home with her newborn sister, Makenna, when their mother suffered a brain aneurysm.

“I called my dad, who was going out of town, and said mom’s not OK,” she said. 

Her father came home and her mom, Alyssa, was rushed to the hospital where she was in ICU for 17 days.

“It was remarkable for a 5-year-old,” her dad said. “We had just taught her how to use the phone. She was very heroic.”

Ten years later, it happened again, but this time her father was away on business and could not make it home.

Although she had just a driver’s permit, she loaded her mother and sister into the car and headed to the hospital.

“She remembered that I said earlier that it would be quicker for me to drive her mom to the hospital than wait for an ambulance to find us,” her dad said.

“When she talked with me, I could hear the confidence in her voice. She handled that better than most adults would and she took care of her sister.”

He said that confidence carries over to everything his daughter does, and he is savoring this time with her, especially during her senior year.

“It’s more fun to watch (her play) as a parent, but it’s also very satisfying to help your daughter (as a coach),” he said. “No one can ever take that time back.”

Pam ShebestPam Shebest served as a sportswriter at the Kalamazoo Gazette from 1985-2009 after 11 years part-time with the Gazette while teaching French and English at White Pigeon High School. She can be reached at [email protected] with story ideas for Calhoun, Kalamazoo and Van Buren counties.

PHOTOS: (Top) Schoolcraft’s Hannah Thompson, left, lines up for an extra point this season. (Middle) Thompson and Schoolcraft football coach Nathan Ferency. (Below) Thompson set the MHSAA single-season record for goals scored as a junior. (Football photo by Jamie Zinsmaster, head shots by Pam Shebest, and soccer photo by Walt Tokarchick.)

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.