Zeeland West Puts 'T' in 3rd MHSAA Title

November 30, 2013

By Bill Khan
Special to Second Half

DETROIT — Danny Bauder would rather trade touches for trophies. 

In most other offenses, a player of Bauder's ability would be a featured running back. What team wouldn't want to keep feeding the rock to a kid who ran for 1,796 yards and 28 touchdowns this season?

Bauder did all of that damage, despite the fact he shares the load in the shell game that is Zeeland West's run-oriented Wing-T offense. 

He once again had maximum impact on minimal carries, running eight times for 144 yards and a touchdown in West's 34-27 victory over DeWitt in the MHSAA Division 3 championship game Saturday at Ford Field.

Two teammates had more carries than Bauder, as the Dux rolled up 441 rushing yards on 66 carries. Cole Hession had 26 carries for 122 yards, quarterback Casey Brinks had 11 carries for 66 yards and Grant Postma had six carries for 71 yards and two touchdowns. 

They all shared in the same accomplishment with their teammates — West's third MHSAA title in the nine-year history of the school. The Dux (13-1) were Division 4 champions in 2006 and 2011.

"I love (our offense), because everyone has a chance to get the ball," said Bauder, who got things rolling with an 80-yard touchdown run on the second play from scrimmage. "We have three backs. We rotate them like every other drive. It's a good team offense. It's a team. I don't mind, just as long as we win." 

Led by its ground attack, West appeared to be on the verge of running away with this one, building a 28-7 halftime lead.

The Panthers wouldn't allow the Dux to coast to the championship that easily, however. 

A 56-yard touchdown run by Chris Ruby and a 29-yard scoring strike from Jake Johnson to Josh Borta in a 72-second span got DeWitt within 28-20 with 6:50 left in the third quarter.

West responded with a 25-yard touchdown run by Brinks with 2:57 to go in the third, but an offense that averaged 48.9 points per game coming into the contest wouldn't score again. Junior defensive back Ben Zamiara led DeWitt's defensive charge with a game-high 20 tackles, 11 more than anyone else on either team. The Panthers held West to 1-for-4 on fourth-down conversions. 

"I'm pretty sore right now," Hession said. "This is one of the games I've come out of the most sore. I can feel it right now, and my adrenaline is still rushing. Props to them, because they came out and they had three or four series where they stopped us on fourth down. Not many teams can do that. They're just good."

DeWitt closed the deficit to seven points when Johnson rolled left and hit a wide-open Borta for a 75-yard touchdown with 4:25 left in the game. 

The Panthers' offense would watch the rest of the game on the sidelines. The Dux milked some clock by getting two first downs before dropping back to punt from its own 48 for the only time in the game. Postma barely got off the punt, but was knocked to the ground when a DeWitt defender caught him on the leg while going for a block. West retained the ball, running out the remaining 32 seconds by taking a knee one time.

"Our punter was already hurt," West coach John Shillito said. "He was on one leg. So, it was a great effort by Grant to get the ball off and it was a break for us. We knew the game was over. You knew that all you had to do was take a knee." 

DeWitt coach Rob Zimmerman said going for the block was a risk the Panthers had to take, given the time on the clock and the potential field position.

"If they punt and pin us down at the 10, that's a long way to go," Zimmerman said. "We went for it. Obviously, it didn't turn out in our favor. You have to take chances when you're in that situation." 

DeWitt tried in vain to play catch-up all night after falling behind 8-0 when Bauder took the ball around the left side of the Dux line and broke into the clear for an 80-yard touchdown just 45 seconds into the game. West, which attempted (and missed) only one extra-point kick all year, got two points on a pass from Brinks to Zach Poppema.

West scored on four of its five possessions in the first half, failing only on its second series when a fourth-and-five run from the DeWitt 13 came up a yard short. 

The Dux shook off that temporary setback and scored on a 7-yard pass from Brinks to Hession on the first play of the second quarter. Hession ran for the 2-point conversion to make it 16-0.

Following a fumble at the West 49, the Dux took a 22-0 lead on an 18-yard run up the middle by Postma with 6:45 left in the first half. Brinks' conversion run failed. 

DeWitt (13-1) finally put a drive together and got back in the game on a 4-yard touchdown pass from Johnson to Justice Shankel with 3:15 left in the first half. Cameron West's extra point made it a 22-7 game.

The Dux didn't get away from their ground game with time winding down in the first half, throwing only one pass on a seven-play, 80-yard drive that yielded a 12-yard touchdown run by Postma with 1:04 to go in the half. Postma's 2-point run failed, resulting in a 28-7 halftime lead for West. 

"We dug ourselves too deep a hole," Zimmerman said. "I felt if we got one more possession, we had a shot."

Johnson, a junior, was 15 for 24 passing for 289 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions for DeWitt. Brinks was 3 for 5 for 35 yards and a touchdown for West. 

Borta grabbed five passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns. 

Click for the full box score.

PHOTOS: (Top) Zeeland West running back Danny Bauder scampers ahead during Saturday's Division 3 Final. (Middle) DeWitt quarterback Jake Johnson tries to pull away from a Dux defender's grasp. (Photos by Hockey Weekly Action Photos).

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:

8-Player Football

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.)