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Saturday, November 13, 2010

More bad luck for the Eagles

DECKERVILLE — One of these seasons, Deckerville is going to win a playoff game like this.
The Eagles will be the ones making a goal line stand late in the fourth quarter.
The Eagles will be the ones scoring the go-ahead touchdown on their final possession.
The Eagles will be the ones. 
It’s going to happen.
Once again here Saturday afternoon, Deckerville saw its football season come to a disappointing end. With a chance to at least tie, or even take the lead, in the final minute of their Division 8 regional championship game, the Eagles were stopped by a determined Fulton defense in the waning moments.
The result? Another playoff heartbreaker, this one a 20-13 setback to the momentum-building Pirates.
It’s the third time in the last five seasons Deckerville has lost in the regional championship game. And it’s the 10th time in 15 seasons the Eagles have lost a playoff game by eight points or less.
We can go all the way back to the Eagles’ 26-22 opening-round loss to Almont in 1996 as the start to what’s become an unwanted post-season ritual.
It happened again the following two seasons, a 6-0 setback to Brown City in 1997 in a snowstorm, and then a 21-14 loss to Britton-Macon-Deerfield on the road in 1998.
Deckerville’s one and only trip to the state semifinals happened in 2000. After flattening an undefeated McBain team in the regionals, the Eagles traveled to Gaylord and suffered a hard-fought 24-18 setback to Iron Mountain — the eventual Division 7 state champion.
Deckerville’s hard-luck run has happened a few more times in recent years. In 2001, the Eagles hosted Detroit DePorres in what is still one of the best games I have ever covered. The Eagles lost 27-20 to the eventual state champions in the regional finals.
After blanking Ubly 27-0 during the 2005 regular season, the Eagles dropped a heartbreaking 27-26 decision to the Bearcats in the opening round of the playoffs.
The following year, they lost a very entertaining 36-28 road decision to New Lothrop, which went on to finish 14-0 and win the state championship.
And just last season, the Eagles were kicked in the gut when Waterford Our Lady of the Lakes booted a field goal on the game’s final play for a 30-28 victory.
Now, all these scenarios aren’t meant to be an indictment on the program
Far from it. 
The Eagles have put themselves in position to win these games, but just haven’t come up with those one or two critical plays to get the job done.
That’s just bad luck. 
Here Saturday, it was a failed fourth down conversion from the Fulton 10-yard line with less than a minute to play which came up a yard short. If the Eagles convert, they might have been celebrating a regional crown.
Instead, the Pirates — a team which qualified for the playoffs with a 5-4 record and had to win their final two games just to have a shot at getting in — are the ones off to the state semifinals.
And the Eagles are once again left shaking their heads in disappointment — and disgust.
Don’t be surprised to see the Eagles in this same position next season. They do lose seven very good and experienced seniors, but they also return plenty of talent, too.
They could be right back hosting another regional title game.
And this time, it could be the Eagles making the game-winning play at the end.
One of these seasons, it’s going to happen.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Shagena closes out career at Alma

ALMA — Former Deckerville football standout Bryan Shagena is playing his final game for Alma College Saturday when the Scots take on Adrian College.
Shagena has been a four year varsity player while at Alma and has been a starting defensive nose guard/tackle for the last three years.  
Prior to Alma, he played three years of varsity football at Deckerville.
Shagena has played in all nine games for Alma this season, starting seven. 
The Tribune will have a complete story on Shagena’s Alma career in an upcoming edition.    

Bryan Shagena

Booms: A proven winner for the Bearcats

UBLY — Bill Sweeney remembers it well.
It was a chilly October night in 2007, and his Ubly squad was playing rival Deckerville.
Faced with a fourth-and-1 play, the Eagles decided to go after an untested freshman linebacker playing in his first game. 
The young man, still a little nervous from making his varsity debut, quickly showed why he was called up. He stuffed the play and helped the Bearcats to a 38-0 victory.
That freshman was Eric Booms, and he is believed to have played in more winning games than any player in Ubly history. 
“They ran a straight dive right at him,” said Sweeney. “He just smoked that kid. I remember just saying, ‘Wow, what a player he is going to be.’”
Before Booms arrived on Oct. 5 of the 2007 season, Ubly’s defense was allowing 17.6 points through six games. 
The Bearcats gave up just 10.6 points in the five games after.
“When he came up as a freshman, it changed our season overnight defensively,” Sweeney said. “He’s been the backbone of our defense for three years.”
Booms recalls that first game. 
“I was pretty nauseous the first couple of plays, I got knocked around a little,” he said. 
“After that, I settled down and was able to do my job.”
It’s a job Booms (6-foot-1, 195 pounds) has done exceptionally well. During his time with the varsity team, he has been part of 40 victories and only three defeats. Booms has never experienced a loss during the regular season, or at home.
He is hoping to keep that home record intact when Ubly hosts Ravenna at 2 p.m. today for the Division 7 regional championship.
Being part of 40 wins isn’t something Booms set out to do. He’s quick to deflect any credit for it.
“It’s about all the teammates I’ve had around me, and Mr. (Jim) Becker and Coach Sweeney,” he said. “They were all teaching me every day how to do things.
“Having Mr. Becker as one of the better defensive coaches around, it’s pretty easy to read your keys and do your stuff like you’re supposed to. I was just an average player. I definitely wouldn’t be here without my teammates and my coaches.”
Added Sweeney: “If you would have told me he would win this many games, I wouldn’t have believed you.
“He’s just amazing. He’s a gamer. He’s a winner.”
Booms is a two-time first-team All-Thumb performer, and a candidate for the 2010 Defensive Player of the Year. He was also named to the Division 7-8 All-State squad in 2009.
He once again leads the team in tackles this season with 118. In fact, his 78 solo tackles would rank him third overall for the Bearcats.
This season, Booms was asked to become the leader of the defense. For his first three years on varsity, he appeared along side fellow linebacker Dalton O’Connor. 
“I was really concerned this year, losing Dalton O’Connor. Dalton was a great leader and I was worried about Eric being able to take the reins,” Sweeney said. “Eric’s kind of a quiet kid, but he just grabbed it and ran with it. That’s just awesome to see.
“It’s been impressive to see him grow and taking the younger guys under his wing.”
Of the 43 games Booms has played in, it’s one of the three losses he remembers most.
It was the loss to Traverse City Saint Francis in the 2008 Division 7 state championship. 
“There have been a lot of fun games that we’ve played — Ford Field was one of them,” he said. “Getting to play where the Detroit Lions play, walking down the tunnel, seeing all the fans — that was really sweet.”
Booms knows there are just two games separating Ubly from a return trip to Ford Field. 
“It would be nice to go back there again, but we have to take one game at a time,” he said. 
In last week’s 34-21 win over Saginaw Nouvel, it was another Booms that gained attention. 
Kurtis Booms, Eric’s younger brother, picked off a pass in the fourth quarter and returned it for a touchdown. It ended up being the play that sealed the win for Ubly.
“Playing with my brother was pretty sweet,” he said. “Last year, he was moved up for the playoffs, but I don’t think I ever played at the same time with him. Playing these last couple of games with him has been pretty fun.”
Although his defense gets most of the attention, Booms is a talented offensive player, as well.
He leads the team with 15 catches for 329 yards, four touchdowns and four 2-pointers.
“He’s played offensive end for us for three years,” Sweeney said. “He’s a great blocker, we’ve ran for a lot of yards behind him. And he’s made a lot of big time catches for us.
“This year, he was a key component for our offense. He’s the one that had to communicate to the right side of the line and help them grow.”
Added Booms: “When they call on me, I just do my thing. It’s blocking most of the time. I have fun doing that.”
At most, Booms has three games remaining in his stellar Ubly career. 
“He’s far exceeded any expectations I’ve ever had for him,” Sweeney said. “We’ve had a great run, and Eric has been a part of it the whole time.”
Booms is hoping to put off the thoughts of not playing football for Ubly for at least a couple more weeks.
 “It probably will (hit me) once the season’s over,” he said. “But right now, I just want to keep going hard, taking it one week at a time.”

Eric Booms makes a catch for the Bearcats.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bearcats gear for perennial power Ravenna

UBLY — The tests keep on coming, and Ubly keeps on passing them.
Last week, the Bearcats had to overcome a team that reminded coach Bill Sweeney of Traverse City Saint Francis.
At 2 p.m. on Saturday, Ubly (11-0) will face a squad that looks very familiar when it hosts Ravenna (8-3) for the Division 7 regional championship.
“They play tough, physical defense,” said Sweeney. “They run the ball. They’re not going to use smoke and mirrors.
“What they remind me of is a lot like us. Like a Deckerville has been, like a Harbor Beach has been, like USA — just a tough hard-nosed football team.
“They just play a good style of rugged old-school football.”
The Bulldogs won in dramatic fashion last week as Zack Courtade found Connor Chopp for a game-winning touchdown as time expired to defeat Merrill, 32-30.
In that game, Ravenna rallied from a 17-6 halftime deficit.
Although Courtade tossed for 198 yards and two scores, the Bulldogs prefer to run the ball.
Josh VanderWagen had 158 yards on 35 carries.
“Their quarterback and running back are real good,” Sweeney said.
For Ubly, Tyler Peruski and Bret Cleary once again led the ground attack in the 34-21 win over Nouvel. Peruski had 138 yards on 23 carries to bring his total to 1,218 yards on the season. Cleary was right behind with 137 yards on 17 totes, coming in at 1,167 yards for the year.
Austin Drake continued his maturation process at quarterback for the Bearcats, tossing for 108 yards and three TDs.
“Last week, it was awesome to win, it was great for us,” Sweeney said. “But this is the kind of game the playoffs are supposed to be about.”
Sweeney was referring to Ravenna’s rich history of playoff appearances and state championships.
The school has four state titles, the most recent coming in 2003.
“They’re one of those legacy programs in Michigan,” Sweeney said.
“The coolest thing about the playoffs is not playing parochial schools. The coolest thing about the playoffs is playing a public school from across the state. Seeing how your best matches up against their best. 
“You have Ravenna playing for their conference, which is an exceptionally strong conference. You have Ubly playing for the Thumb. They don’t know anything about us, and we don’t know anything about them.
“It’s what high school football is all about. Beating Nouvel gives us that opportunity.”
After preaching about focus all season, Ubly has played with it through its first two playoff games.
The team has only one turnover, but didn’t allow any points from it. 
“It kind of scares you a little bit,” Sweeney said about how well the team has played. “Because they can come off a big win like that and be bad the next game.
“The finality of if we lose is that the kids realize it’s over. So I hope the focus is there. Believe me, they understand how good Ravenna is, and how good of a program it is.”
Saginaw Nouvel attempted to take Ubly by surprise last week.
During the Panthers’ first round game with Reese, they only threw the ball once. 
Against the Bearcats, they went to the air 42 times, but only completed 18 attempts for 223 yards. For the most part, the Ubly defense was able to keep receivers from getting loose.
It’s a vast improvement from the 341 passing yards allowed to North Huron in the regular season finale.
The Bearcats ended up with three interceptions, including one from sophomore Kurtis Boom, who took it 22 yards for the score that put the game away in the fourth quarter. 
Sweeney credits a player who didn’t record a pick for the improvement in the secondary — Tyler Peruski.
In the second half, Peruski began dishing out some punishing blows to the Nouvel receivers.
“Tyler has been phenomenal,” Sweeney said. “Defensively, he had five or six hits that changed the game for us.
“We had three picks after Tyler started hitting people. Those kids were ducking for cover. They had some drops right across the middle when Tyler started lighting people up.
“That was the first time all year I saw our kids making people pay for coming across the middle.”
The regional championship is being played Saturday because of the distance between Ubly and Ravenna. The total miles is just under 230 miles, translating into a four-hour trip by bus.
The winner of this game will advance to the semifinals to face the winner of Saturday’s McBain (10-1) at Ishpeming (10-0) regional championship.

BOGAN'S PICK: Ubly 26, Ravenna 16

Ubly Season Review
Week 1: USA 38-0 W
Week 2: Sandusky 30-28 W
Week 3: Marlette 33-8 W
Week 4: Mayville 46-6 W
Week 5: H. Beach 38-6 W
Week 6: Bad Axe 56-22 W
Week 7: Brown City 30-6 W
Week 8: D’ville 40-0 W
Week 9: N. Huron 52-21 W
Week 10: USA 48-6 W
Week 11: Nouvel 34-21 W
PF: 445 (40.4): PA: 124 (11.2)

Ravenna Season Review
Week 1: Kent City 41-6 W
Week 2: Shelby 13-20 L
Week 3: Whitehall 7-0 W
Week 4: Scot. MCC 56-0 W
Week 5: Mus. Oak. 6-37 L
Week 6: Montague 28-21 W
Week 7: Hart 51-7 W
Week 8: N. Musk. 35-14 W
Week 9: Cheboygan 21-35 L
Week 10: Pe-West 35-7 W
Week 11: Merrill 32-30 W
PF: 326 (29.6): PA: 176 (16.0)

Eagles prep for road-tested Fulton

DECKERVILLE — The last time Deckerville’s football team hosted a regional championship was 2000.
That year, an undefeated — and overconfident — McBain squad traveled to the Thumb and went home a 38-7 loser.
The 9-2 Eagles are hoping for the same kind of outcome Saturday afternoon when they host 7-4 Fulton for the Division 8 regional championship
“When you get to this point, you’re not only playing for your program, but you’re also playing for your community,” said Deckerville coach Bill Brown. “It’s great that we get to play at home.”
The Eagles are 2-0 at home in this year’s playoffs, highlighted by last week’s 36-8 pummeling of Bay City All Saints. Conversely, Fulton is 2-0 on the road, including a 7-6 win over No. 1-ranked Fowler in the opening round and a 34-27 decision over heavily-favored New Lothrop last week.
In other words, the Pirates have proven they are a formidable road foe.
“The bottom line is that they have not made many mistakes the last two weeks,” Brown said. “They have played very well.”
The Pirates started the season 2-3, including 20-point losses to Dansville and Laingsburg, as well as a 22-point setback to Fowler.
But a renewed sense of urgency, as well as getting a couple of players back from injury, helped Fulton squeeze into the playoffs with a 5-4 regular season record.
Now, the Pirates are just a win away from the Division 8 Final 4.
“They are a good team,” Brown said. “Offensively, they run a lot of different things. They’ll run an I, they will run a double wing, and they’ll also show a little spread.”
Topping Fulton’s offensive leaders are quarterback Zach Baker and tailback Jared Barton. 
Baker threw for 200 yards and four scores in last week’s win over New Lothrop.
“Their quarterback was right on last week,” Brown said. “He almost played a perfect game.”
Barton hauled in three of those TD passes from Baker last week. He also rushed for 110 yards, putting his total to around 1,500 yards this season.
Deckerville, meanwhile, has dominated its two playoff games, limiting their two opponents to less than 100 total yards.
Last week’s derailing of BCAS was one of the Eagles’ best defensive performances in some time. Deckerville held BCAS superstar quarterback Drew Janer to just 75 yards, frustrating the all-state candidate by blowing up BCAS on the line of scrimmage.
“We knew coming in our front seven was going to be pretty tough,” Brown said. “It all starts up front, and those kids have a done a tremendous job.”
Offensively, even without injured tailback Cody Ross, the Eagles have thrived running the ball.
Andrew Estrada has chalked up 293 yards and eight touchdowns in the Eagles’ two playoff contests while Rick Wilfong has added 308 yards and four more TDs.
“Andrew and Ricky have done a great job for us,” Brown said. “Andrew is running really physical... And even (sophomore fullback) Chris Wolfe has been just a step or two away from breaking one...
“We’ll probably have to throw a little bit this week, which is fine with us. We’re going to take what they give us. The biggest thing is making sure we hang on to the ball. We can’t give it away.”
Like Deckerville, Fulton is a perennial playoff team. The Pirates have made the post-season 13 consecutive times, including in 2007 when they lost in the state title game to Crystal Falls-Forest Park.
Fulton also came to the Thumb in 2004 for the playoffs, dropping a 36-17 decision to eventual state champion Unionville-Sebewaing Area in the regional finals.
“You can tell they are a very well coached team,” Brown said. “The kids are usually in the right spots to make plays.
“It’s big for us to be playing at home, but (Fulton) has been on the road the last two weeks and won, so they’ll be prepared.”
The winner of this game heads to next weekend’s state semifinal showdown to play the winner of the Saugatuck/North Adams-Jerome regional contest.

BOGAN'S PICK: Deckerville 29, Fulton 19

Deckerville Season Review
Week 1: Oscoda 54-0 W
Week 2: Kingston 48-7 W
Week 3: Peck 38-6 W
Week 4: N. Huron 44-23 W
Week 5: Sag. BV 52-32 W
Week 6: Memphis 48-0 W
Week 7: Marlette 20-21 L
Week 8: Ubly 0-40 L
Week 9: L. Alcona 38-0 W
Week 10: SHPC 46-6 W
Week 11: BCAS 36-8 W
PF: 424 (38.5): PA: 143 (13.0)

Fulton Season Review
Week 1: P. St. Pat. 20-6 W
Week 2: Dansville 21-41 L
Week 3: CC Crystal 39-0 W
Week 4: Laingsburg 7-27 L
Week 5: Fowler 12-34 L
Week 6: Potterville 42-21 W
Week 7: Pe-West. 20-21 L
Week 8: Saranac 21-13 W
Week 9: Bath 42-6 W
Week 10: Fowler 7-6 W
Week 11: New Loth. 34-27 W
PF: 265 (24.1): PA: 202 (18.3)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Weekend Highlights...


• Great showings by Deckerville and Ubly on Friday night. I really believe both teams have a shot at winning this weekend and heading to the state semifinals.
Ubly's opponent, Ravenna, is a very good team, but certainly beatable.
Deckerville's opponent, Fulton, has won a pair of road games against two excellent teams in Fowler and New Lothrop. Winning three straight on the road is going to be tough.
The Tribune will preview these games this week, as well as have some feature stories from both programs.

• Kudos to the Cass City, Caseville and Deckerville voleyball teams for winning district championships.
All three teams are in action tonight at regional events at New Lothrop and Peck.
Cass City has its hands full against Reese tonight.
Caseville and Deckerville could very well play for the regional title once again. Caseville plays Bay City All Saints while Deckerville takes on Burton Faith.

• Oh, the Lions. What a disappointing loss. Coach Jim Schwartz has taken some heat for throwing the ball on third down late in the game. I actually liked the call, but Drew Stanton has to be smart enough to know that if it's not a 100 percent sure thing, just eat it and take the sack. Instead, he tried an off-balance throw to a fullback.
As for Matthew Stafford, I am worried. Stafford has all the potential to be one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
But after missing a lot of last season, and playing just one full game this season, his body seems to be held together with Scotch tape, spit and some hope.
How Schwartz can’t be concerned about his durability is being pretty naive.
I’m not questioning his toughness. I’m just questioning his ability to take an NFL-type hit.
The play he went out on in Sunday’s game was nothing more than a fall to the turf.
His nickname has become GLASSFORD on some Internet blogs.
The Lions have a major decision to make in the upcoming weeks. 
To me, they need to shut him down, get him healthy, and plan for the playoffs in 2011.

• What a wild game at Michigan. The triple OT win over Illinois probably saved Rich Rod's job because the Wolverines are now bowl eligible. I see some projections have them going to Texas to play in one of the bowls there against either Baylor or Oklahoma. If they beat Purdue next week, then I think that's a legitimate place to go.
If they don't, and wind up 6-6 overall and a shoddy 2-6 in the Big Ten, why not just suck it up, stay in Michigan, and play at Ford Field in the Little Caesars Bowl. Michigan will never do that - it has nothing to gain by beating a MAC school - but I think it would be the right thing to do.

• The Tigers re-signed Jhonny Peralta with an $11.25 million, two-year contract with a club option for 2013. The team announced Peralta’s return Monday, less than three weeks after re-signing third baseman Brandon Inge for a similar price.
Now, go after a big bat and a catcher. Then I will be back on the bandwagon - again.

• How quickly have the Pistons fallen off the radar. Has there ever been a trade more damaging to an NBA team than getting rid of Chauncey Billups? The Pistons are on the verge of becoming the worst team in the league. 

Who else has some stuff from the weekend?

Monday, November 8, 2010


Yes, I am very, very late with these, but better late than never...
The Playoff Version winner of the blog football contest is Chiuk Czlek, who got all the 5 and 10 pointers correct and missed just a couple of the 2 pointers.
Chiuk Czlek please re-email me your address so I can get the prize out to you....

AND FINALLY... The overall winner of the 9 week blog contest is...
NCTL Alum, who had 592 total points.
The overall race was very close heading into the last week, with NCTL Alum, Dan Gentner and coachestake all within 3 points of each other...

ONCE AGAIN, thanks to all who played the contest and for all your patience during the season compiling the winners and the standings.
NCTL Alum gets a $35 gift certificate to any Huron County eating establishment. I will email you NCTL Alum, and see what you want...

Here are the final overall standings...
NCTL Alum 592
Dan Gentner 585
coachestake 574
Chiuk Czelk 567
Kellen Bickel 554
DA Green 554
Gary Hunkins 545
Fan77 542
Horseshoe 540
spartyon 539
halfway ed 533
willowrun 528
thumbtailgater 525
twocentsworth 524
jillms22 520
JEH34 505
chad wingert 492
oldtymer75 488
Brad 477
justchimingin 474
fletch lives 445
Dan Rutkowski 441
james harris 439
epbp92 425
shane o'connor 416
Jesus 412
rockefeller 397
crackersnake 354
Peter 339
bob bechtel 201
bodeen 276
john woycik 141
kent zebra 138
budman_48413 129
lakers65 103
ed witkowski 85
dustin mazure 80
bossick 65
Thumbdude 54
papa smurf 53
jcreguer 50
kbechtel 46
brandon deacons 45
pure thumb 29
Braylonisnumberone 23
EagleDad2 18
jymcheck 17

WE HAD about 15 entries enter under ANON. We had 1 ANON winner, who we were able to identify.

Saturday start times

Ubly and Deckerville will both play at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Ubly plays Ravenna.
Deckerville plays Fulton.