Blahas Building Lasting Owosso Legacy

February 5, 2020

By Tim Robinson
Special for Second Half

Owosso seniors Hunter and Colton Blaha, born 11 months apart, have been competing with each other nearly every day of their lives.

“We’ve been competing forever,” said Colton, the younger of the brothers, with a laugh. “Sprinting down the road so you can get to the house first.”

Hunter agreed.

“We’re always competing, no matter what it is,” he said. “Board games, chores. It doesn’t matter.”

The Blaha brothers have channeled that competitiveness into a work ethic and sense of community that has helped lift the Owosso High School sports programs in which they’ve competed.

Both played football (Hunter at quarterback, Colton at running back), while Hunter plays basketball and runs track and Colton is an all-state wrestler who plays baseball in the spring.

Most of the programs they have played for have not had recent success. The brothers endured part of a 43-game losing streak in football, Hunter’s basketball team recently snapped a 30-game losing streak, and the Owosso baseball team has struggled in recent years.

And, to the Blahas, that doesn’t matter.

Competing does.

“I honestly don’t care what our record is,” Colton Blaha said. “We always had a close bond with the kids in our grade, and that means more than anything. It means more than any record we could have had in wins or losses.”

Trojans athletic director Dallas Lintner, who also is an assistant football coach, said what sets the Blahas apart is that selflessness – a willingness to help build a program despite an outward lack of success.

“What’s refreshing to see at the high school level is that they’re competitive, but they’re classy,” Lintner said. “They mean a lot to us at Owosso High School. They mean a lot to our community particularly with the relationships they’ve built with middle-school kids, with elementary school kids. They really do it all for us.”

Both Blahas have worked, assisting the coaches in their sports, with younger athletes at all levels to help them feel a part of the program.

“When we got here, the senior leadership was horrible,” Hunter Blaha said. “We got treated horribly by the upperclassmen, and that plays a big part in a program, having a bond and a relationship with the younger kids. We set that as a goal in the eighth grade, because we knew how important it was to our program if we got the youth program going at a young level and got them going at the same pace.”

And so Owosso football players at lower levels have seen the Blahas at their games or matches the last four years. Both attend youth level games and interact with future Owosso athletes as much as their schedules allow.

“They’re like rock stars to those kids,” football coach Devin Pringle said. “We do things at elementary schools like reading to kids, and we take the Blahas. They’re like NFL stars to those kids. They wrestle with them, give them high-fives, talk about grades.”

At one point during the football season, Hunter became involved with a troubled elementary school student as part of a class in social tolerance.

“I was chosen to help this kid,” he said. “My idea was to bring him to a game, come see a coin toss, maybe get him a signed football.”

Which he did. The youngster got to do all three and went home with a lasting memory.

“It was an awesome experience,” Hunter said. “I could tell he was really happy that he got the chance to do that.”

Another thing that makes the Blahas stand out, their coaches said, is their commitment to their hometown.

“A lot of kids transferred out of here to play on better sports teams,” Colton Blaha said. “My mom has always taught us to make a name for ourselves, and I feel that Hunter and I have both done that here. We’ve done the best we can to try to change the sports programs around, and we hope the kids under us have picked up on that.”

Naturally, coaching and commitment by those younger players is critical, but there are signs of a turnaround in Owosso football. The Trojans varsity won two games last season and lost three more by a single point. The rest of the teams in the program all had winning records.

“We knew coming in it would take some time to get a new culture established,” Pringle said. “When it happens, it’s because these young men decided to stay.”

After his freshman year of football, Hunter Blaha was promoted to varsity. As a sophomore, he was a unanimous choice as a team captain and started at quarterback.

Colton finished third at 160 pounds at last year’s Division 2 Individual Wrestling Finals, a rise fueled by the competitive fires built during his youth.

“We used to have basement wrestling tournaments, and he used to kick my butt,” Colton said of Hunter. “I used to get so mad at him.”

The boys wrestled and sometimes fought at school, too.

“I always beat him,” Hunter said. “I remember one day I stopped and he came up to me and said, ‘I’m not going to let you whip my (butt) any more. It’s just not going to happen. That’s the day he started wrestling, and he’s been working his tail off ever since. It’s pushed me to work harder and get some goals in mind.”

As for the rivalry, “a year later, (Colton) started whipping my butt,” Hunter said, smiling. “It’s escalated from there.”

Both Blahas plan to compete in college, Hunter in football and Colton in wrestling. Both plan to become teachers, and Pringle has a not-so-subtle plan for Hunter.

“Colton is amazing in his own right,” Pringle said. “But Hunter, when he gets that degree, he’ll be head football coach at Owosso someday. We’re getting a new weight room, and I tell him, ‘I’ll have this ready for you when you take over.’ He’ll be a kid who impacts hundreds of kids before he’s done.”

But first, there’s a senior year to complete.

“It feels like it came up way too fast,” Hunter said. “It feels like yesterday I started at quarterback my sophomore year. I kind of get emotional about it. I don’t like talking about it. Most kids are ready to get out of here, to get their lives going. But I’ve been here since I was 6 years old, and it’s all I’ve ever known, playing with these kids.”

Colton Blaha is known as an athlete who’s the first to arrive at practice and the last to leave, almost to a fault.

“I have him in a fourth-hour class, and he always wants to get in a couple of extra sets,” Pringle said, chuckling. “He always leaves the room last, and sometimes I’m late for lunch because of it.”

A few lost minutes of lunch, though, has been a small price to pay.

“I know they’re going to do great things,” Lintner said. “They’re going to be great husbands. They’re going to be great fathers. They’re going to be great college athletes no matter what university they choose. We’re super proud of them, and as an educator, I’ve been fortunate to be with them the last four years of their journey.”

Asked what the most important thing is that they've gained through athletics, both brothers pause for several seconds before answering.

“Hard work can take you anywhere,” Colton said. “Always. Through hard work, you go through a lot of ups and downs, a lot of lefts and rights, but if you keep working hard, keep your head balanced, you can go anywhere.”

“Being a family, definitely,” Hunter said. “That’s what it’s all about. Life’s not always about football and athletics. You want to make your friendships and talk about these memories 20 years down the road.”

But the Blahas have done more than make memories. They’ve made an impact, one that will be felt ‘years down the road.’

PHOTOS: (Top) Colton, left, and brother Hunter Blaha. (Middle) Colton, left, begins his third-place match during last season’s Division 2 Individual Finals at Ford Field. (Middle photo by

1st & Goal: 2023 Week 5 Review

By Geoff Kimmerly senior editor

September 25, 2023

As anticipated, the midpoint of this football regular season provided clarity to league championship races all over the state over the weekend, setting up some massive build-up as the calendar turns to October.

MI Student AidBut of course, there are always surprises – and the biggest came from our smallest schools. Skip to the 8-player portion of our Week 5 report below to kick things off with a streak-ending stunner.

(Historical information below researched in part at 

Bay & Thumb

HEADLINER Chesaning 16, Montrose 6 Chesaning (4-1) is staring down a possible first league title since 2005 after handing the Rams (4-1) and previously New Lothrop their only losses in the Mid-Michigan Activities Conference. This also was Chesaning’s first win over Montrose since they helped form the MMAC in 2018 – and now Chesaning will turn its attention to Ovid-Elsie this week and reigning champion Durand after that with that league title possibility growing. Click for more from the Flint Journal.

Watch list Saginaw Heritage 49, Lapeer 21 The Hawks (3-2) opened Saginaw Valley League Red play with losses to Grand Blanc and Davison but are still to be feared as handing this first loss of the season to Lightning (4-1) showed. Further putting that start in perspective, all five of Heritage’s opponents so far have winning records heading into Week 6.

On the move Millington 21, Standish-Sterling 20 The Cardinals (5-0) clinched a share of the Tri-Valley Conference Blue title after losing out to Standish-Sterling (2-3) a year ago. Corunna 49, Lake Fenton 17 The Cavaliers (5-0) will play Goodrich this week to decide the Flint Metro League Stars champion for the second year in a row after taking Lake Fenton (3-2) out of the title race. Almont 13, Armada 12 Almont (5-0) and Croswell-Lexington will face off this week for first in the Blue Water Area Conference after Almont came back from down 12-0 in the third quarter to get past the reigning co-champion Tigers (2-3).

Greater Detroit

HEADLINER Clinton Township Chippewa Valley 28, Macomb Dakota 21 Four teams are in the running again in the Macomb Area Conference Red, with Chippewa Valley (3-2) helping to open the race back up with its first win over Dakota since the 2019 regular season. The Cougars (4-1) drew close with a touchdown with a minute to play, but the Big Reds secured the onside kick – and now those two and Utica Eisenhower sit a game behind Romeo in the league standings. Click for more from the Macomb Daily.

Watch list Riverview 36, Flat Rock 34 The Huron League is back to a three-team race with these two and Carleton Airport after Riverview (4-1) handed Flat Rock (4-1) its lone loss. All three have played each other, so they’ll need help to break the tie at the top.

On the move Redford Union 33, Dearborn Heights Robichaud 22 Union (4-1) sits alone atop a close Western Wayne Athletic Conference race but with wins over two of three teams tied for second, plus Robichaud (3-2) as well. Warren Michigan Collegiate 44, Detroit Edison 16 In successive weeks, Michigan Collegiate (5-0) has handed lone losses this season to Romulus Summit North and now Edison to take control of the Charter School Conference Gold race. Warren De La Salle Collegiate 14, Detroit Catholic Central 7 They both trail Toledo Central Catholic in the Catholic League Central, but both will be expected to factor heavily in the playoffs even if they miss out on a league title. DCC (3-2) entered this game No. 9 in Division 1, and De La Salle (3-2) was No. 2 in Division 2.


HEADLINER Grand Ledge 21, Lansing Everett 12 With its first-string quarterback sidelined, Grand Ledge emerged from a scoreless game at halftime to remain atop the Capital Area Activities Conference Blue while moving to 5-0 overall. The Comets’ defense was especially tough, holding back an Everett offense that had reached 40 points in two of its last three games as the Vikings (3-2) entered the night the having won three in a row. Click for more from the Lansing State Journal.

Watch list Hastings 34, Battle Creek Harper Creek 6 The Saxons (3-2) are in the mix in the Interstate 8 Athletic Conference, having picked up some serious momentum by handing Harper Creek (4-1) its lone defeat.

On the move East Lansing 35, Grand Blanc 7 East Lansing’s 0-2 start keeps gaining context as those early opponents keep winning and the Trojans (3-2) do the same against league title contenders like the Saginaw Valley League Blue’s Bobcats (3-2). Mason 35, Haslett 20 The Bulldogs (5-0) can clinch a share of the CAAC Red this week after holding off Haslett (3-2) for their closest win, with the defense coming up big late as the Vikings were driving to attempt to tie the score. Portland 52, Lansing Catholic 14 The Raiders (5-0) ran their winning streak over the rival Cougars (2-3) to two as they look to repeat as CAAC White champions – and with Week 8 against Lansing Sexton looking more and more like a potential decider.

Northern Lower Peninsula

HEADLINER Gaylord 35, Cadillac 14 The Blue Devils are only halfway through the Big North Conference schedule but may be impossible to catch. Gaylord sits atop the standings and has handed the lone league loss to the three teams in second or tied for third, including the Vikings (3-2). The Blue Devils scored 21 unanswered fourth-quarter points this time to get to 5-0 for the first time since 2003. Click for more from the Petoskey News-Review.

Watch list Traverse City West 24, Midland Dow 21 The Titans (2-3) started 0-2 and have played three games decided by a touchdown or less, including this one to keep them as one of two teams undefeated in SVL Red play.

On the move Charlevoix 29, Benzie Central 12 The Rayders (4-1) can clinch a share of the Northern Michigan Football Conference Leaders title this week after sending Benzie Central (2-3) into second place. Kingsley 44, Traverse City St. Francis 21 The Stags (4-1) had lost to the rival Gladiators (2-3) the last two seasons, including 49-12 a year ago, but this time kept pace with Ogemaw Heights atop the NMFC Legends. East Jordan 26, Maple City Glen Lake 3 Coming off a Week 4 loss, the Red Devils remain in the NMFC Legacy title hunt after a solid bounce-back against the Lakers (3-2).

Southeast & Border

HEADLINER Chelsea 28, Adrian 18 The Southeastern Conference White is looking like it will come down to Chelsea and Jackson after the Bulldogs sent Adrian (4-1) into second place. Since falling to Grand Rapids Northview in Week 1, Chelsea (4-1) has won its next four games all by double digits. Click for more from the Chelsea Sun Times News.

Watch list Dexter 55, Ann Arbor Huron 29 The Dreadnaughts (3-2) are picking up fast after an 0-2 start, with this win dropping Huron (3-2) out of a tie for first in the SEC Red. Dexter has gone over 50 points two straight weeks.

On the move Clinton 50, Blissfield 0 The Redwolves (4-1) also have won four straight after an opening loss and sit tied with Hudson for first in the Lenawee County Athletic Association, while Blissfield (3-2) fell into third. Napoleon 35, Grass Lake 26 For the second-straight week, Napoleon handed the first loss this season to a league opponent – and the Pirates now sit atop the Cascades Conference East with Michigan Center. Erie Mason 40, Petersburg Summerfield 16 Coming off three straight losses, the Eagles (2-3) were in need of a rebound – and got it by handing Summerfield (4-1) its lone defeat.

Marquette quarterback Jaxon Jurmu (2) keeps the ball and gains several yards before being tackled by Sault Ste. Marie's Owen Horrigan (52).

Southwest Corridor

HEADLINER Dowagiac 27, Benton Harbor 26 A one-point Week 1 loss to South Haven is all that’s kept Dowagiac from a perfect start, and the Chieftains (4-1) with this win guaranteed their best finish since at least 2019. Dowagiac trailed 18-13 at halftime, then held off the Tigers (2-3) late to open the Lakeland Conference schedule on the right foot. Click for more from the Niles Daily Star.

Watch list South Haven 45, Allegan 17 The Rams (3-2) won just two games a year ago, but opened with the above-mentioned win over Dowagiac, added a second win over Delton Kellogg two weeks ago, and this time scored their season high to hand Allegan (4-1) its only loss.

On the move Kalamazoo United 30, Parchment 28 (OT) Parchment (3-2) nearly pushed this to another overtime, but the Titans (3-2) held on in another Southwestern Athletic Conference Lakeshore opener to join South Haven and Constantine among early leaders. Portage Central 35, St. Joseph 18 The Mustangs (4-1) equaled last season’s win total and kept pace atop the Southwestern Michigan Athletic Conference standings while sending the Bears (3-2) a game back. White Pigeon 24, Centreville 8 The Southwest 10 Conference race may come down to the Chiefs (5-0) and Cassopolis in Week 8, although Centreville (2-3) can still be part of the mix if it gets past Cassopolis this week.

Upper Peninsula

HEADLINER Marquette 28, Sault Ste. Marie 7 These two hadn’t met since 2020 but moved together to the Big North Conference for football this fall. Marquette didn’t have an opponent for Week 4 and came back off the break with a big-time defensive effort to even its record at 2-2 and deal the Blue Devils (3-2) their second defeat. Click for more from the Marquette Mining Journal.

Watch list Ishpeming 46, Bark River-Harris 8 The Hematites (2-3) had lost two straight to Bark River-Harris (2-3), but got a needed rebound after defeats the previous two weeks. They could be in for more success with their last next four opponents a combined 2-17.  

On the move Manistique 44, L’Anse 0 The Emeralds (3-2) have posted three straight shutouts and sit one more win from what would be their best finish since 2012. Menominee 56, Houghton 0 Make that four shutouts in five games for the Maroons as they prepare to take on the rest of the contenders in the Western Peninsula Athletic Conference Copper over the next three weeks. Kingsford 41, Calumet 0 Coming off their lone loss, the Flivvers (4-1) posted their third shutout of the season and remain in the Copper mix.

West Michigan

HEADLINER Byron Center 15, Grand Rapids Forest Hills Central 14 The Ottawa-Kent Conference White continues to look like one of the most competitive leagues in the state this fall, and Byron Center (5-0) remains tied for first with East Grand Rapids thanks to a two-point conversion after a last-minute go-ahead score. FHC (4-1) entered the game ranked No. 1 in Division 3, and Byron Center was No. 4 in Division 2.

Watch list Grandville 44, Hudsonville 37 These teams traded leads all game, but Grandville (4-1) scored last to earn a spot atop the O-K Red, tied with Rockford. The Bulldogs have defeated the Eagles (4-1) in four straight.

On the move East Grand Rapids 14, Grand Rapids Northview 10 As noted above, EGR (5-0) kept pace atop the O-K White – thanks to a late go-ahead score that sent Northview to 3-2. Zeeland West 36, Zeeland East 13 The Dux (5-0) ran their streak over the Chix (4-1) to five straight wins and in doing so remained tied with Muskegon for first in the O-K Green. Whitehall 35, Manistee 0 The Mariners (5-0) are alone atop the West Michigan Conference Lakes after blanking a Manistee offense that averaged 40 points per game during its 4-0 start.


HEADLINER Lake Linden-Hubbell 28, Powers North Central 25 The longest winning streak in Michigan 8-player football history is over. Lake Linden-Hubbell handed the three-time reigning champion Jets their first loss since the 2019 Regional Finals and after a stretch of 41 consecutive wins, pulling ahead with a long touchdown pass during the final minutes. Click for more from the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette.

Watch list Climax-Scotts 53, Bellevue 22 Climax-Scotts keeps climbing and got to 5-0 for the second year in a row with their fourth showing of 50 points or better, this time to send Bellevue to 3-2.  

On the move Indian River Inland Lakes 26, Munising 24 The Bulldogs (4-1) played their second two-point game in a row, but this time came out on the winning side after falling to St. Ignace by two in Week 4. Grand Rapids NorthPointe Christian 20, Gobles 17 (2OT) The Mustangs (3-2) ended another undefeated start, edging the Tigers (4-1) while holding them 42 points below their average this season. Marion 42, Rudyard 8 The Eagles may have given up their first points this fall, but impressed again against arguably their toughest opponent so far in Rudyard (3-2).

Second Half’s weekly “1st & Goal” previews and reviews are powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury. MI Student Aid encourages students to pursue postsecondary education by providing access to student financial resources and information. MI Student Aid administers the state’s 529 college savings programs (MET/MESP), as well as scholarship and grant programs that help make college Accessible, Affordable and Attainable for you. Connect with MI Student Aid at and find more information on Facebook and X (Twitter) @mistudentaid.

PHOTOS (Top) Davison applies a pass rush as Saginaw United takes to the air during the Cardinals' 63-0 win Friday. (Middle) Marquette quarterback Jaxon Jurmu (2) keeps the ball and gains several yards before being tackled by Sault Ste. Marie's Owen Horrigan (52). (Photos by Terry Lyons and Cara Kamps, respectively.)