'Unknown' Suits Whitmore Lake Well

October 11, 2019

By Doug Donnelly
Special for Second Half

WHITMORE LAKE – The move to a new athletic conference has put some renewed energy into the Whitmore Lake football team and has the Trojans thinking playoffs for the first time in years.

Whitmore Lake, a Class C school on the northern edge of Washtenaw County, moved to the Michigan Independent Athletic Conference this season after 46 years in the Tri-County Conference. It was a big move for the school, which hoped to inject some enthusiasm into its student-athletes, including a football program that was lagging in numbers and had made the playoffs just once during the last decade.

“I feel pretty good about the buzz and excitement that is going on,” said fourth-year Whitmore Lake head coach Brian Boron. “There’s definitely a resurgence with a lot of new things.”

Four-year starting offensive tackle Alex Williams noticed the change soon after Whitmore Lake announced the move from the TCC to the MIAC after last football season.

“I feel like interest in football picked up a lot more,” said Williams. “Being a captain, you see it in school. The eighth graders will come up to you and talk about football. We had more people in our weight room all winter. The culture has definitely changed.”

The first year in a new conference has brought all sorts of new experiences to the football team, both for players, coaches and fans.

“Do we miss the TCC? Absolutely. We were one of the founding teams,” Boron said. “We miss being part of that history and tradition.

“From a win-loss standpoint, things are going well. But this year I also have 12 seniors on the team, by far the most of any team I’ve had in my four years here. Are we competitive more because of that, or because of the new league? I don’t know.”

Whitmore Lake beat Auburn Hills Oakland Christian 62-33 last Friday to improve to 4-2 on the season. Its only losses were nonleague games to undefeated and state-ranked Royal Oak Shrine Catholic and Ann Arbor Father Gabriel Richard. Against Shrine, the Trojans fumbled three times; and against Richard, Whitmore Lake thought it had tied the game late in the contest, but a 2-point conversion was called back and the Trojans didn’t convert on the next attempt.

Several teams on Whitmore Lake’s schedule are first-time opponents, including Sterling Heights Parkway Christian, Auburn Hills Oakland Christian and Friday’s opponent, Southfield Christian. 

Senior running back Evan Romeo, a 1,000-yard rusher as a sophomore, is enjoying a big senior season as well.

“Evan is having a great year,” Boron said. “Last year he missed five games with a hamstring pull.”

Logan Kurth, Cole Henning and Evan Vaughn are other backfield mates, and the quarterback is Zach Brady.

“He doesn’t get a lot of credit, but he’s the architect of the whole thing,” Boron said of Brady. “He makes it go. Every game we have a referee or member of the chain gang come tell us that they can’t find the ball because Zach is doing such a great job with his fakes.”

Whitmore Lake’s biggest win this season came against Oakland Christian, which came into the game 4-1. The Trojans appear to be on a league title-deciding collision course with Week 9 opponent Livonia Clarenceville, also undefeated in the MIAC. Whitmore Lake’s last league championship in football came in 2002.

“In this league, we are playing against teams with 18 or 19 kids on the varsity, just like us,” Boron said. “When I took the program over, we had maybe 17 kids in the entire program. They aren’t great numbers, but now we are closer to 30. I’m hoping to add more.”

In making the move last fall, Whitmore Lake Superintendent Tom DeKeyser said it had become apparent that, at least in some sports, the Trojans were not competing at the same level as other TCC schools.

“We have built a lot of great relationships in the TCC,” DeKeyser said. “But our coaches and athletes are excited to try something different.”

Everyone in Trojans camp hopes that “different” translates into more student-athletes.

“We had 10 or 12 freshmen come out this year, some who had never played football before,” Boron said.  “That’s been a good thing. We’re not sure about next year, how many kids we’ll get up from our youth program. We’ll have to see. The team having success, I believe, will help that.”

One thing Boron has found is that the move is demanding on the coaching staff, which has a whole new set of opponents for which to prepare. It used to be one or two new teams would join the schedule. This year, nearly all of the Trojans’ opponents are new.

“No other team in our league runs the ‘T’ which means we don’t see how anyone is going to defend it on film,” Boron said. “We kind of rep everything because we don’t know how they are going to line up against us. We’re still getting a feel for these other teams. It’s fun. As coaches, we watch a lot of film. We have to be able to adjust and be ready for just about anything.”

The Trojans already have scored more points than any team it has fielded since 2008, which is the last time Whitmore Lake finished with a winning record. The 2013 team made the playoffs but finished 5-5 after a first-round loss. That 2008 season capped the greatest football era in school history, when Whitmore Lake made the playoffs seven times during an eight-year span. 

Boron isn’t making predictions for Whitmore Lake’s future just yet. There are still a lot of unknowns.

“Everybody is still trying to figure things out,” he said. “We will sometimes get to a school a half-hour or 45 minutes early because we are unsure of the traffic patterns still. Teams get to our school way early some weeks for the same reason.

“I think it’s a good thing for the future of football at Whitmore Lake. The unknown is exciting.”

Doug 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.

PHOTO: Whitmore Lake now-senior running back Evan Romeo breaks into the open. (Photo courtesy of the Whitmore Lake football program.)

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.