Whiteford Scores 1st Title with Epic Offense
November 24, 2017
By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
DETROIT – Next time, no one will leave Ottawa Lake Whiteford out of the conversation.
It wasn’t like the Bobcats felt overlooked. But coming into this season’s Division 8 playoffs, it was pretty easy to pencil in four-time reigning champion Muskegon Catholic Central to win again.
Then, when the Crusaders lost to 12-time champion Mendon in the Regional Finals, the Hornets assumed the status as favorites – while on the other side of the bracket, reigning runner-up Whiteford continued building a run historic both locally and statewide.
“Everybody kinda knew Muskegon (CC) was the favorite going in, and Mendon beating them, that was a big win,” Bobcats senior lineman Lucas Tesznar said. “But we knew what we had. We knew we were talented. We just had to play our game every game, and good things would happen.”
And they experienced the best Friday – the first MHSAA football championship in school history, with a 42-21 win over previously-undefeated Saginaw Nouvel to kick off the weekend at Ford Field.
Last year’s trip to the Division 8 Final was Whiteford’s first appearance in an MHSAA title game in this sport.
The Bobcats lost to MCC 35-6, but a year later left the field having scored 737 points this fall – tied for second most in one season with Beal City’s 2013 team – to average 52.6 per game, tied with the Aggies for ninth-most all-time.
Whiteford finished 14-0, winning all of its games by at least 16 points. It’s 27-1 over the last two seasons and 37-4 over the last three.
“Four years ago if you would’ve told me we were going to be in back-to-back states, and win it my senior year, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Tesznar said. “It wasn’t just us. It was the whole community. Everybody around us just pushed us to get better, and the support was non-stop. It was just amazing.”
Whiteford put nonstop pressure on Nouvel, starting with the opening kickoff – an onside bouncer recovered by Bobcats senior quarterback Thomas Eitniear, the first successful onside kick to open an MHSAA Final since Spring Lake succeeded against Jackson Lumen Christi in the 2000 Division 5 game.
Two plays later, Eitniear ran 37 yards to put his team on the board. By the end of the first quarter, junior Logan Murphy had added two running scores to push the Bobcats’ advantage to 20-0. Eitniear ran for another four minutes into the second quarter to make the score 28-0 and give Whiteford all of the offense it would need for the day.
The Bobcats gained 484 yards, with Eitniear running 10 times for 129 and three touchdowns and throwing for 143 on 7 of 11 passing. Murphy had 126 yards rushing and three scores as well.
They succeeded behind an all-senior line anchored by the 6-foot-5, 285-pound Tesznar. He was joined up front by Jordan Book, Jacob Lewis, Alex Kohler, Jarret Atherton and tight end Matthew Taylor.
“We work every day in practice, just to get better each and every day. But I’m not surprised … our o-line has worked as hard as they can all year,” Eitniear said. “That whole offense is all based on them. All of that is all them.”
Nouvel had a tougher time stopping the Bobcats’ attacking defense, which had 11 tackles for losses including four sacks by junior Ian Slick and two by Taylor. Whiteford didn’t allow more than 22 points in a game this season, an impressive feat that got lost a little behind all of the accomplishments on offense.
Senior Tate Hausbeck threw for 175 yards and two touchdowns on 11 of 26 passing for Nouvel (13-1), with senior Ken Kujawa catching both scoring tosses. Junior Joshua Kuligowski added a score on the ground. Senior Alex Wrobel led Nouvel with 14 tackles, and Kujawa had 10.
“All the looks we had out there were pretty much what we planned for. When you’re playing against a good football team, you’ve got to make some plays, try to find a way to make plays,” Nouvel coach Mike Boyd said. “I thought at times we moved the ball extremely well. I think probably when we reflect on things, we’ll see some opportunities that got away from us. They got a lot of pressure on Tate, and if we had more from a protection standpoint we might have had some big plays out there.”
Whiteford coach Jason Mensing talked after of the support his program has received from various groups in the community since he and his staff took over six years ago – and how all of it has made a difference as the Bobcats have continued to rise.
On their way back to Detroit, they found what they needed to climb one step more and finish as the last Division 8 team standing.
“The chemistry this year was just so amazing. Everybody got along with each other, and it was just a family. I think that’s what put us over the top,” Tesznar said. “We put Whiteford on the map, and it’s amazing. I think we all wanted a little revenge on Muskegon, but this feels just as good winning the state title.”
The MHSAA Playoffs are sponsored by the Michigan Army National Guard.
PHOTOS: (Top) Whiteford's Logan Murphy rumbles into the end zone for one of his two touchdowns Friday. (Middle) Bradyn Clark-Gilmore holds on to a catch as Nouvel's Ken Kujawa wraps him up.
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.