8-Player Powers Converge in Greenville
8-Player Powers Converge in Greenville
Football
Posted Thursday, November 15, 2012

By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor

Friday’s second-ever MHSAA 8-player football championship game will feature teams representing different stages of the new division’s development.

Coming down from the north is Bellaire, one of the first schools to jump on the new format in 2009 and a major success since doing so. Traveling west from the Thumb is Deckerville, a solid 11-player program in years past that has gotten smaller over the last decade and made the switch this fall.

Together, they should bring an exciting conclusion to the 8-player season at Greenville High School’s recently-built Legacy Field, a tremendous structure comparable to a small college stadium.

Tickets for the 8-player Final cost $8. Can’t make the trip? Watch it live on Fox Sports Detroit Plus (Comcast channel 901, check local listings for other providers). Kickoff is 7 p.m.

Here’s a look at the teams squaring off:

BELLAIRE
Record:
 9-3
Coach: Ron Bindi, fifth season (25-24)
League finish: Fourth in Bridge Alliance Conference
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 28-16 and 20-16 (Semifinal) over Rapid River, 48-0 over Owendale-Gagetown (Regional Final).
Players to watch: RB/CB Chase Small, 5-8/170, soph. (185 carries, 1,574 yards, 24 TDs rushing); QB Zach Smith, 5-11/158, sr. (29 for 73, 676 yards, 7 TDs passing; 389 yards, 15 TDs rushing); OL/DL Drew Bailey, 6-4/200, sr. (73 tackles), LB/C James Campis, 5-10/195, jr. (171 tackles), SE/CB Wes Villafane, 5-8/151, sr. (14 caches, 514 yards, five TDs, four interceptions).
Outlook: After finishing a combined 1-16 in its final two seasons in 11-player football, Bellaire is 23-8 since making the switch. The Eagles’ quick start included representing their conference against Mid-Michigan 8-Man League winner Carsonville Port-Sanilac in a non-MHSAA championship game at the end of the first 8-player season. This year’s team started 0-2 before hitting its stride. There’s no question Bellaire is a running team, with 3,413 rushing yards this fall led by Small’s 1,574. The team has thrown for 823 yards, with Villafane catching nearly half the team’s passes. Campis and junior Hunter Walsh are the big hitters for a defense giving up only seven points per game during the postseason.

DECKERVILLE
Record/rank:
 11-1
Coach: Bill Brown, 20th season (154-60)
League finish: First in North Central Thumb League
Championship history: Has never appeared in an MHSAA Final.
Best wins: 32-12, 48-39 and 42-39 (District Final) over Carsonville-Port Sanilac, 24-18 over Peck, 36-30 (2OT) over Portland St. Patrick (Semifinal).
Players to watch: QB Nick Pagel, 5-10/170, jr. (132 carries, 824 yards, 11 TDs rushing; 31 of 63, 463 yards, six TDs passing), RB Corey Wagester, 6-0/165, sr. (136 carries, 820 yards 12 TDs rushing), FB/LB Chris Wolfe, 5-10/170, sr. (151 carries, 1,580 yards, 14 TDs rushing).
Outlook: This is Deckerville’s first season of 8-player football. But unlike a lot of others that have made the switch, the Eagles had plenty of success in 11-player with four seasons of at least 10 wins beginning in 2000 – when they made the Division 8 Semifinals and fell six points shy of reaching the Pontiac Silverdome. Their lone loss this season came in Week 2 to powerful Cedarville; Deckerville has rolled since although it had two close calls during the playoffs. The Eagles also focus on the run led by two strong backs and two-way quarterbacking threat Pagel, and will have a hefty size advantage thanks to guys like senior Kevin Hammond (6-foot-1/235 pounds), sophomore Cody Mausolf (6-2/240) and senior Zachary Bowerman (6-0/210) up front. 


Comments

# bruce mccumons
Friday, November 16, 2012 9:23 AM
good luck deckerville, do the thumb proud tonight
# Leroy Hackley Jr
Friday, November 16, 2012 9:57 AM
Greenville is a great place to host this game. Their new stadium is by far the best in the state. Congrats and good luck to both teams, officials and game management.

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