Tag Archives: High School
Via Mark Uyl, MHSAA:
There is a crisis in Michigan schools today that centers on one problem:
Not having enough people.
In discussions with school district personnel, we are being told there has never been a more difficult time for finding people than today. All of us are searching high and low to find coaches for athletic teams, and officials, referees and umpires to administer those games in an orderly and safe way. Dig a little deeper, and school districts are desperate to find those willing to serve as substitute teachers and bus drivers.
Because of this current reality, we continue to be dumbfounded over the approval of Public Act 184 this past summer. This created a new set of retirement rules stipulating that a retiring teacher or administrator cannot be rehired to serve as a coach until after a nine-month waiting period. Even more frustrating: Individuals who had served as high school coaches for many years, who retired from the classroom last June but had planned to keep coaching for a few more seasons, are being told they cannot do so. Those coaches are sidelined, and for no sensible reason.
Cheri Ritz has been the varsity softball coach at Wayland High School since 1995. Cheri has won numerous championships, and has been a model coach and great leader of students throughout her career. Cheri retired as a teacher in June and planned to keep coaching the softball team for a few more years, making a small fraction of what her classroom salary was before retirement. Under the “old” retirement law, Cheri could have retired in June and been detached from the district for 30 days, and then returned and worked for the district in any capacity as long as she was making less than 30 percent of her compensation at the time of her retirement. Under PA 184, this scenario can no longer happen.
In the state of Michigan, we have hundreds of recently-retired school people who want to continue to be some of our best coaches, making pennies on the hour for their time. Now they simply aren’t allowed to do so because of a law that had no intention of impacting coaches and school sports. Cheri is just one example. The same issue has found several more longtime, successful coaches including Northville’s golf coach Chris Cronin and cross country & track field’s Steve Porter at Milan High School.
For the past few months, the MHSAA has met with the Office of Retirement Services, representatives from the Governor’s office and even the bill sponsor of PA 184. Every single conversation revealed the fact that coaches were not even part of the discussion when this new retirement law was passed. In other words, recent retirees continuing to coach were not the issue, but yet this new law now treats coaches as some sort of enemy with zero phase-in period, modification or even the ability to seek a waiver of this new law which became effective immediately on July 25, 2022. We have tried to work within the system to seek some commonsense approaches and solutions to this problem, but to no avail as of yet.
We need your help. We need you to contact the Governor’s office and your State Representative and State Senator’s offices. Let them know PA 184 needs to be fixed now. We need to find a way to let these individuals continue to coach and lead our student-athletes. Let them know our kids cannot play their games without individuals who want to coach, and let them know our kids will miss out on learning valuable life lessons if these coaches are not allowed to continue. And let them know that PA 184 could not have been passed at a worse time given our most valuable resource – people – is at an all-time low.
Kent City traveled west to Muskegon Catholic Central for a first round showdown a year after missing the post season. MCC made their debut in Division 6 and took the victory over the visiting Eagles after a close first half that widened inside the final two minutes of the half when a Crusader interception gave MCC field position and another touchdown to go up 21-7 at half.
The Eagles had a key injury to burly senior running back and linebacker Mason Westbrook, which hampered Kent City on both sides of the ball, but most noticeably on offense. The Eagles suffered another devastating injury that stopped gameplay for an extended period of time as KC senior linebacker and tight end Chase Moreno went down with a broken fibula.
The Eagles made one more push for a score, but were stifled at the goal line and ended the season with a 42-14 loss.
Perhaps, interestingly enough, electrical service to the stadium was experiencing issues, which kept half the lighting from functioning and the scoreboard was only lit intermittently throughout the night.
Muskegon Catholic Central will travel to face a formidable foe in Reed City in what is likely to be a very tough contest for the Crusaders.
Game of the Week
It may be July, but the days are quickly passing like a 7 on 7 tournament happening all over the Mitten state as teams prep to chase their dreams at a state title. While some may have more reasonable hopes of achieving that dream, squads of helmeted teens prepare, nonetheless, to take the field in just over a month.
We wanted to take an early look at what will be our game of the week taking place during Thursday/Friday week 1 action the Rockford Rams and visiting Mona Shores Sailors.
The Sailors finished their season last year with an 8-3 (6-1) record with victories and defeats that were lopsided. When the Sailors won, they did with emphasis. When they lost, it was by a large margin. Much of this was due scheduling some difficult opponents in eventual state champion Detroit Martin Luther King and perennial power Muskegon. Mona Shores eventually fell in the second round of the playoffs in a lopsided 49-12 defeat to Caledonia.
Rockford had a tremendous season 11-1 (7-0) that saw them finish the regular season with a conference championship and undefeated record before being bounced in heartbreaking fashion in the third round of playoffs to Grand Blanc 28-27. The Rams came through in clutch time with several close victories throughout the year, but were unable to do it one more time and the magical run came to an end.
If the game had been played last year, Rockford would have been the clear favorite, but a single year can make a large difference; even at schools with larger class sizes. Rockford graduated a considerable number of impact players on both sides of the ball in 2021 and will see someone new under center in 2022. Replacing such incredible talent won’t be easy. On the flip side, Mona Shores also graduated star quarterback Mark Konecny. Both teams will be looking to find success regardless of changes in the lineup.
Mona Shores struggled to keep up when their defense put them in a position to make the game a shootout last year. If the Sailors are going to have a chance, it will be with stout defense in a game that keeps the score tight and low. If the Rams start stacking up points, the game will likely get out of reach for Mona Shores’.
Our “too early” prediction for the week one game of the week is: Rockford 38 Mona Shores 20
Other Week One Predictions:
Coopersville 28 – Sparta 7
GR Catholic Central 35 – Port Huron 20
Unity Christian 48 – Whitehall 14
Cedar Springs 7 – River Rouge 56
Reeths Puffer 14 – Grand Haven 13
Kent City 20 – Newaygo 13
Forest Hills Central 21 – Jenison 14
Northview 27 – West Ottawa 20
Forest Hills Northern 40 – Wyoming 13
West Catholic 28 – Edwardsburg 35
Arie Landstra began developing a love for the game of golf at a young age during outings to the course with his father. 8 years later, the Unity Christian freshman is in his first year of high school golf as part of the Crusader junior varsity golf team.
The individual nature of the game appeals to Landstra, “unlike the sports I play like basketball or football… there is a lot more of a mental game in golf.” That focus and mental game was tested last Wednesday when Unity Christian participated in a jamboree against five other schools at Pigeon Creek Golf Course.
Landstra opened with a slow start and triple bogeyed his very first hole. He shook off the nerves and managed to get clicking. By hole 17, a 170 yard par 3, he was in a rhythm. He approached the tee wielding his 7 iron and with the wind at his back. He entered his backswing and launched a beautiful shot that sailed towards the flag and disappeared from view.
Landstra was immediately overwhelmed by what he was almost certain he had seen and took off running towards the pin to verify it for himself. What he found was what all golfers aspire to achieve; his golf ball nestled soundly in the bottom of the cup. A hole in one.
He closed the day shooting a 41 on 9 holes, which placed him first as an individual and aided Unity Christian in sealing the team victory as well.
Landstra has checked this milestone off his bucket list, but several goals still stand before him. He hopes to close his freshman campaign with a winning record and work towards earning a spot on varsity next year. His long term goal is to raise a state championship trophy. He is certainly off to a great start.
Player of the Year – Abbey Kimball, West Catholic (Senior)
Our player of the year is senior West Catholic guard, Abbey Kimball. While she came in second to Detroit Edison senior, Ruby Whitehorn, in the Miss Basketball standings and her Falcons lost to Edison in the state championship, she was the most complete and skilled player we saw all season. She is the best half-court scorer in the state and is able to finish in the paint or behind the arc. She also has excellent passing vision and transition skills to go with solid athleticism on the defensive end.
#2 – Ruby Whitehorn, Detroit Edison (Senior)
#3 – Indya Davis, West Bloomfield (Sophomore)
#4 – Macy Brown, East Grand Rapids (Junior)
#5 – Mya Petticord, Arbor Prep (Senior)
#6 – Theryn Hallock, Forest Hills Central (Senior)
#7 – Myonna Hooper, West Bloomfield (Senior)
#8 – Amanda Roach, Hartland (Senior)
#9 – Madisen Wardell, Detroit Edison (Senior)
#10 – Gabi Lutchka, Grass Lake (Senior)
#11 – Cadence Dykstra, West Catholic (Junior)
#12 – Jaci Tubergen, Hudsonville (Senior)
#13 – Soraya Timms, East Lansing (Senior)
#14 – Alyssa Wypych, Rockford (Junior)
#15 – Janae Tyler, Holt (Senior)
#16 – Maddie Petroelje, Hudsonville (Junior)
#17 – Ashley Bower, Portland (Senior)
#18 – Maddie Geers, Kent City (Sophomore)
#19 – Summer Davis, West Bloomfield (Sophomore)
#20– Claire Groenewoud, Holt (Senior)
#21 – Karianna Woods, Arbor Prep (Senior)
#22 – Dakota Alston, Detroit Edison (Junior)
#23 – Ella Miller, East Lansing (Senior)
#24 – Anna Wypych, Rockford (Freshman)
#25 – Lexie Bowers, Kent City (Junior)
#26 – Michelle McGee, Wyoming (Senior)
#27 – Mia Riley, Fowler (Senior)
#28 – Alaina Diaz, Hudsonville (Senior)
#29 – Brax Baker, Lowell (Sophomore)
#30 – Emma Riley, Fowler (Junior)
#31 – Lydia Meredith, St. Patrick (Senior)
#32 – Jamya Robinson, Muskegon (Senior)
#33 – Grace Lyons, Rockford (Senior)
#34 – Jayd Hovey, Hart (Senior)
#35 – Madison Garbow, Morley-Stanwood (Senior)
Top 5 Returning Players in 2023 – Indya Davis – West Bloomfield, Macy Brown – East Grand Rapids, Cadence Dykstra – West Catholic, Maddie Petroelje – Hudsonville and Alyssa Wypych – Rockford.
There are few teams that lost as much as the Kent City Eagles did last spring as two all-time Kent City greats, Kenzie Bowers and Jenna Harrison, graduated. The two school and state record holders left the small town of Kent City, Michigan to continue their basketball careers in the collegiate ranks (Bowers at Illinois State and Harrison at Siena Heights).
One could have been forgiven for assuming the Eagles would take a step back in 2022, even as they brought back several key pieces of that historic run. The Eagles had other plans and have battled their way into the state final with an unblemished record for the second straight season after handling Madison Heights Bishop Foley with relative ease. The Eagles got a huge boost from junior guard Lexie Bowers, who was held to just 6 points in the state quarterfinal, but was on fire inside Breslin for the second straight year.
Last year the Eagles faced Grass Lake and Big 10 Indiana commit Lexus Bargesser & Northwood commit Gabi Lutchka. This year the Eagles advance to challenge another giant, Ypsilanti Arbor Prep.
The Gators are loaded with Division 1 talent and led by Texas A&M commit Mya Petticord and Bethune-Cookman commit Karianna Woods.
One could also be forgiven for thinking the Eagles should shift into “just glad to have made it” mode with such a task ahead of them Saturday evening. While Arbor Prep’s aggressive and physical style of play will be on display in the final, it should be expected to see a Kent City team ready to respond and play with a chip on their shoulder as well.
It is not often that the David in the “David and Goliath” metaphor is the defending state runner-up, but it is the place Kent City finds itself and the stigma they’ve been upending all season long on their way to a perfect 26-0 record going into the final matchup of the season with a state championship on the line.
Boys Basketball Roundup
Northview will have one of the best showdowns in the area as they face a battle-hardened Muskegon team in Grand Haven. Despite being favorites for much of the season and knocking off several giants throughout the regular season, Northview will have their hands full with Muskegon and stellar forward Ethan Hill. Northview has some players to be contended with as well and it will be tough for the Big Reds to slow down all of them. Expect Northview to not overlook this matchup even though they have bigger goals on the horizon.
A year removed from a trip to Breslin and a state runner-up finish, Tri-Unity Christian will look to continue their run this year with goals of taking down the title in star Brady Titus’ senior campaign. It’s championship or bust this year for the Crusaders.
Girls Basketball Roundup
Kent City is no stranger to long post-season runs and will not be unfamiliar with their state quarterfinal opponent, Schoolcraft. The two teams met last year in the quarterfinal round with Kent City dominating their way to a nearly 40 point victory. While both teams have been rolling again this year, Kent City has had to find a new identity behind first year head coach, Aleah Holcomb, and emerging playmakers Maddie Geers and Lexie Bowers with the Eagles losing several key pieces from the 2021 squad. Despite those key changes from last year, Kent City is certainly a favorite to emerge as the victor and head for their second ever trip to the Breslin Center later this week.
The Rockford Rams will have a tough matchup against visiting East Lansing at Calvin University on Tuesday Night. The Rams upset Hudsonville by 22, despite losing both regular season matchups by double digits. The Rams will have another tough test as they face a very well-rounded East Lansing team, which has been rolling as well the last month. This one could go either way, but the Rams will look to play the role of underdog again, but are fully capable of turning the tables as well.
West Catholic got revenge over Newaygo, the team responsible for knocking them out of the tournament last spring. While Newaygo may have got the better of the Falcons that day, West Catholic had vindication on the brain as two of their key players were out of that previous matchup due to covid protocols. This year was a different story and West Catholic dominated for the full 32 minutes. They will have a solid matchup in southern Michigan this Tuesday, but should come out the victors and head to Breslin later this week.
Other Teams in Action this Week
Calvin Christian High School
Sparta High School
Wyoming High School
West Ottowa High School
Grand Rapids Christian High School
Grand Rapids Catholic Central
Despite a very aggressive Covenant Christian team, the Eagles continued their journey towards the grand prize, a State High School Championship.
Covenant Christian led most of the first quarter, with the Eagles trailing close behind. But soon the tide changed and the Eagles took off.
Lexi Bowers finished with 19 points, but it was Madelyn Geers who had to take charge when Bowers got her fourth foul at the begging of the 3rd quarter. The Kent City Eagles defeated Covenant Christian 46-32.
Lexie Bowers 19 points Madelyn Geers 16 points Taryn Preston 9 points.
Kent City (24-0) will play Schoolcraft (23-1) tuesday at Edwardsburg High School at 7pm.