By Geoff Kimmerly
Second Half editor
Never underestimate the value of a talented kicker on a high school football team.
This season’s MHSAA Finals showed again just how much that unheralded player can contribute to a championship effort.
Birmingham Brother Rice senior Jason Alessi helped his team win its third straight Division 2 championship, tying the MHSAA single-season record with 16 field goals – on 18 attempts – and finishing second on the career list with 32 on 37 tries. He also made all 59 of his extra point attempts this fall and finished his career with 135 extra points total – good for sixth on that career list – including 122 straight, which is the second-longest streak of makes.
In Division 8, Muskegon Catholic Central junior Griffin Seymour helped his team to a championship season as well. He finished on a 72-straight extra point streak (fourth longest), with his 75 extra points total tied for the sixth-most for one season.
Theirs are among recent additions to the MHSAA online record books. Read on for details on more in football, baseball, boys basketball and volleyball.
- Brother Rice quarterback Alex Malzone made single-season lists for completing 190 of 281 passes for 2,782 yards and 25 touchdowns, and receiver Corey Lacanaria made single-season (65 catches/1,111 yards) and career (115/1,883 from 2011-13) lists in those categories. Defensive end Jack Dunaway made the single-season sacks list with 15, and Alessi also joined a list of 10 who have returned a kick at least 95 yards for a touchdown, doing so from that distance against Toledo St. John’s Jesuit on Sept. 6. (Former Warriors Anthony Jackson, Joey Henry and Devin Church also were added to the longest kick return touchdown list).
- It took more than 50 years to find its way into the MHSAA record books, but Bob Bentley’s 99-yard kickoff return touchdown for Corunna against Elsie on Oct. 5, 1962, has been added and is the oldest listing for this record-setting distance.
- A number of Holland Christian offensive standouts were added in a variety of categories. Among highlights: Quarterback Ross Schreur was added to four single-season lists after completing 195 of 319 passes for 2,752 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2012, and Caleb VanderLugt was added after throwing six touchdown passes against Holland last season. Schreur also completed 32 of 45 passes against Zeeland West in a 2012 game for 497 yards – eighth on the single-game passing list. Kyle Steigenga had seasons with 18 and 17 touchdown receptions, and finished his career with those 35 scores in addition to 112 catches (and 2,048 yards) total.
- Grayling is on a run for five straight playoff appearances with three straight seasons of nine wins, and much of that success can attributed to a high-powered passing attack. Quarterback Jake Swander was added for his 2012, 2013 and career totals in four categories – he finished his career last fall with 392 completions in 720 attempts for 5,281 yards and 51 touchdown passes in two seasons. Zane Tobin completed 194 of 365 attempts for 2,664 yards and 28 TDs in 2011, and Zach Wolcott threw for 2,404 yards in 2009. Tyler McClanahan finished his three-year receiving career with 160 catches for 2,378 yards and 25 touchdowns, and Cody Myers had 144 catches for 2,140 yards from 2008-10.
- Hale’s Kaydon Reimer is on his way to finishing his career this spring as one of the most hit batsmen in MHSAA history. He entered this season tied for 15th on the career hit-by-pitch list with 30. He made the single-season list in 2013 after getting hit by 15 pitches.
- Jackson High School ran like almost no team has before in MHSAA history, totaling the third-most stolen bases, 196, in 2013. The Vikings were led by Trevor Polewka, who had 46 steals to make the individual single-season list.
- Ann Arbor Rudolf Steiner and Adrian Lenawee Christian combined to make the second-most 3-pointers in a game in MHSAA history – 27 – on Feb. 24, 2012. Rudolf Steiner connected on 13 of its 17 3-point tries, and Lenawee Christian connected on 14 of 24 from behind the arc in going on to win the game 91-62.
- Teagan Reeves will graduate this spring as one of the top blockers in MHSAA history. The Three Rivers senior followed up her 236 blocks as a junior (third-most for a season during the rally scoring era) with 177 this fall. She finished with 622 blocks, third most on the rally-scoring career list.
- Onaway’s Mariah Ehrke will graduate as well this spring with multiple entries for kills. She made the single-season list with 592 this fall and finished on the career list with 1,419 over four seasons. Teammate Devin Bristley added 132 aces this fall to finish her three-season career with 310.
PHOTOS: Birmingham Brother Rice’s Jason Alessi (left) and Muskegon Catholic Central’s Griffin Seymour put up some of the most impressive kicking performances in MHSAA history in 2013. (Click to see more from High School Sports Scene.)