'Why I Cried After Losing a Football Game'
October 5, 2015
By Dallas Lintner
Owosso athletic director
Our varsity football team lost last Friday night to St. Johns High School 55-19. It was certainly a tough loss for our team. Often times, players, coaches, and fans may indicate they feel like crying after such a loss; occasionally they may literally shed a tear.
Let me share the story of what brought me to tears following our team’s loss. I will tell you, it was not the loss. … It was the story of two strangers, Logan Turner and Blake Thelen.
Owosso senior Logan Turner was diagnosed with leukemia over a year ago. While still a part of the Owosso football program, Logan’s condition prevents him from participation in football, or even attending school; yet each week, with permission from his medical team, Logan may occasionally attend OHS football activities. I will tell you that his attendance has been an uplift for our players and coaches nearly as much as seeing his classmates has been an uplift for Logan.
Logan has never met Blake Thelen, yet they share a remarkable bond. Blake Thelen is a member of St. Johns varsity football team. Last year while on spring break, Blake had read an online article about Owosso’s Logan and the struggles he was going through. He remarked several months ago to a few family members and friends that he would like to do something for this kid from Owosso.
Many times, our children will make remarks like this and forget the sentiment all together after a short time. Blake did not forget this sentiment. Several months later, Blake kept his word and offered support to a stranger … to a brother of the gridiron … to a friend he has never met. This is why I cried last Friday night.
On the Wednesday before our game with St. Johns, I received a phone call from Blake’s mother, Shannon. Shannon informed me about her son’s awareness of our Logan and his plan to offer support. Blake had mobilized students and parents to “pass the hat” in the stands and to place donation collection tubs at the concession stand area. Blake’s plan had been announced by the St. Johns public address announcer between the first and second quarters. From witnessing the event personally, this story of Logan and Blake had received as strong of an ovation from the spectators in attendance as the St. Johns Homecoming royalty did at halftime. What a display of character, integrity, and love. This is why I cried.
Logan was in attendance at the game and was on the sideline for a short time before the cold weather forced him to leave for home. Following the game, Blake, his mother, and a few other members of Blake’s group met me on the field immediately after the two teams shook hands. St. Johns’ athletic director Chris Ervin introduced me to Blake and his helpers and also to his mother Shannon, the woman I had met on the phone two days prior. Shannon was holding a gift bag filled with plastic food containers. As we greeted each other at midfield, there was an array of emotions. The Redwing players were elated, following a convincing victory; the Trojans were dejected following the defeat, and I was standing between the two groups smiling with tears running down my face as I tried to utter a few inspired works to Blake and his group expressing our gratitude, our surprise, and our awe for him and his generous deed.
I fear that I was only able to mumble a few incoherent syllables to that group. I spent most of the weekend attempting to determine how best to express today what I couldn’t express Friday night. This is why I cried.
When I returned home Friday evening, I sat in my chair with those plastic food containers and began to sort and count the donations from the evening. I was impressed that there was a great deal of pocket change in those canisters. Most likely from children who emptied their pockets into the tubs. At halftime, my own son purchased one less sucker at the concession stand so that he would have a quarter left over to donate to Logan. Shannon Thelen indicated that fans were flagging their people down in the stands with cash in hand. You wouldn’t believe the number of donations that came in denominations of 10 and 20 dollars, all for a stranger.
At the end of the night, I sat in my chair with $923.11 for Logan and his family. This is a remarkable sum that came from strangers … that came from Blake.
While the donations are very impressive, this is not what choked me up then and still. It is the notion that a student was moved by someone else’s story, took initiative, and gave a gift of far more value than $923.11. He gave friendship, he gave compassion, he gave love. School sports are often judged by scores, records, and stats. In this case, no score, record, or stat can do justice to this inspirational story.
It is these types of moments that inspire me to do what I do; to be associated with children who do amazing things. This high school football game transcended high school athletics and became a great human interest story on a very personal level.
This is why I cried after losing a football game.
God Bless you Blake.
God Bless you Logan.
PHOTO: Owosso athletic director Dallas Lintner, middle, stands with (from left) Jake Dorn, Adam Webb, Tyler Luznak and Blake Thelen after Friday's football game between the teams. (Photo courtesy of St. Johns athletic department.)
Mendon 8-Player Championship Game Run Paced by Record-Setting Rushing
By Geoff Kimmerly
MHSAA.com senior editor
May 26, 2023
Mendon’s run to the Division 2 Final last fall included some of the strongest rushing performances over the history of 8-player football.
The Hornets ran for 4,317 yards, second-most all-time, on the second-most attempts (520) and with a record-setting 682 yards Oct. 14 against Marcellus. Mendon also set the record for total offense with 692 total in that game, and made the single-season touchdowns list with 76 including 66 rushing (also second on that list).
Junior Jack McCaw made the single-season scoring list with 212 points, most coming on 29 touchdowns, and Evan Lukeman made the single-game rushing list with 401 yards against Marcellus. Mendon’s defense also earned praise, twice making the fewest-first-downs-allowed list with a low of three.
See below for more recent additions to the 8-player portion of the football record book:
Athens’ Landon Bennett earned a pair of record book entries after reaching the end zone seven times during his team’s 72-0 win over Burr Oak on Sept. 8. His seven scores are tied for third-most in 8-player history and included three rushing, three on punt returns and one on an interception return. The three punt return touchdowns are a record. Bennett is a junior.
On the night Powers North Central broke its 8-player record for consecutive wins, claiming its 28th straight, senior Luke Gorzinski tied Jets great Jason Whitens for the record for interception touchdowns in a game with two, scoring on returns during the second and fourth quarters. Gorzinski has signed with Michigan Tech, and North Central’s winning streak is 37 games and counting.
A pair of Atlanta offensive playmakers and a top defensive lineman earned a total of seven entries in the record book for achievements last fall. Senior quarterback Tyler Currie threw for 30 touchdowns over eight games, and also made the records for six touchdowns and 419 passing yards against Whittemore-Prescott on Sept. 23; the passing yards are second-most for one 8-player game. Sophomore Landon Galea was added for 263 yards and five of those touchdowns against the Cardinals, and also for 1,418 yards receiving and 23 touchdowns over nine games. Junior teammate Tucker Kendrick made the tackles for loss list with five against Hillman on Oct. 6.
Adrian Lenawee Christian senior Brady McKelvey became the first to make the career extra points list in 8-player football this past fall. He bettered his previous single-season record making 64 of 66 extra-point attempts over 11 games and finishing his two-year varsity career with 123 extra points in 127 tries.
Sam McKissack reached the record book showcasing multiple skills for Crystal Falls Forest Park during the 2021 season – twice for rushing attempts in a game including with a record 59 against Ontonagon that Sept. 10, and then with a record 70-yard punt Oct. 30, 2021, against Lake Linden-Hubbell. Teammate Devon Basirico also made the record book with six fumble recoveries over 11 games that season. As a team, Forest Park was added twice for single-game rushing attempts – including 73 total in that Ontonagon game – and for 424 rushes over 11 games for the season. McKissack and Basirico are seniors this spring.
Nikolaus Lewis tied for eighth-most rushing touchdowns in an 8-player game when he reached the end zone six times for Carsonville-Port Sanilac in its win over Caseville on Oct. 7. He’s a senior this spring.
Bridgman has won 24 straight games over the last three seasons, and an exceptional offense – and exceptional offensive star – have played major roles. The Bees were added for 658 total yards in a win over Lawrence last season, that total ranking third all-time, and also 613 yards in a win over Eau Claire. Those included totals of 575 and 547 rushing yards, respectively, and Bridgman was added for 3,598 rushing yards (sixth on the list), 59 rushing touchdowns (fourth) and 76 total touchdowns (seventh). Senior Reid Haskins capped his four-year, 32-game varsity career with 13 record book entries, including for 254 points last season over nine games (tied for fifth all-time) and a record 620 career points, 41 touchdowns last season (fifth) and a record 95 for his career, 2,344 rushing yards last season (third) and a record 5,206 for his career, and 41 rushing touchdowns last season (third) and a record 94 for his career. Senior teammate Tanner Peters made the records three times including for 50 extra points last season (fourth) and 99 over 26 games and three seasons (second on the career list).
Mio's Austin Fox rewrote the 8-player passing record book this past fall, with his 621 yards in a game against Whittemore-Prescott setting a single-game record as he totaled four of the five-highest passing yardage totals. He also set a record with 3,516 over nine games for the season, another record with 289 passing attempts over those nine games and a third record for nine touchdown passes in that game against the Cardinals. His 41 touchdown passes total rank fourth. Teammates Gage Long and Nathan Hurst also earned several record book entries on the receiving end of those passes. Long’s 297 receiving yards against Whittemore-Prescott were tied for third most, and Hurst’s 266 against Alcona rank eighth. Long set a single-season record with 1,739 receiving yards, with Hurst sixth all-time at 1,321, and Long’s 14 receptions against the Cardinals and 70 for the season also rank second on those respective lists. Hurst set a record for longest 8-player kickoff return with a 99-yarder against St. Helen Charlton Heston. All three are seniors.
Peck was one of the first MHSAA 8-player champions, claiming the title in 2013, and Cody Abrego one of the state’s first 8-player stars. The Pirates were added to the MHSAA record book 52 times, and Abrego 14 times individually. Among the most notable entries for the 2015 graduate were for 462 points scored over his two-season career (ranking sixth all-time), 74 career touchdowns (sixth), 2,202 rushing yards in 2013 (fifth) and 35 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (sixth). Current senior Caleb Lentner was one of the stars statewide this past season, and he was added eight times including for 50 points scored in a game (ranking second), 272 points for a season last fall (fifth), eight touchdowns in a game (tied for second), 42 touchdowns in a season (fifth), an 8-player record of 2,694 rushing yards from last season, and 38 rushing touchdowns also last fall (fourth). Others to make the individual lists were Nathan Robar, Caleb Dudley, Steven VanConant, Kyle Abrego and Nathan Neihaus, Dudley for a record 20 career interceptions over two seasons and VanConant for a record 12 tackles for loss in a 2022 game and 36 tackles for loss for the season last fall. The Pirates also are all over the 8-player team record book, including for a record 97 touchdowns in 2013, a record 5,895 yards of total offense that season, 528 carries, 4,346 rushing yards and 73 rushing touchdowns in 2013 (all ranking second); and 24 interceptions in 2014, which ranks second on that list.
Senior quarterback JR Hildebrand was one of the most dynamic players in 8-player football in the fall in leading Martin to the Division 1 title. He had one of his most exciting nights in a playoff opener against Tekonsha, making the single-game touchdown pass list with six in a 68-6 victory.
PHOTO Mendon’s Jack McCaw (21) eludes a tackle during the 8-Player Division 2 Final in November at Northern Michigan University. (Photo by Cara Kamps.)