Adams filed this report on the D8 district championship game between Ubly and New Lothrop
NEW LOTHROP — New Lothrop and Ubly have been down this road before — twice actually.
But it’s the first time that people from both communities still talk about.
That first meeting came nearly a decade ago in 2003, when the highly ranked Hornets hosted the underdog Bearcats.
The game turned out to be a blowout, but not the one most people were expecting. Ubly came away with a convincing 52-22 victory to appear in its first-ever state semifinal.
It’s the win that put the Bearcats on the map.
At 7 p.m., Friday, they return to the site of that win to take on New Lothrop once again for a Division 8 district championship.
“They’re fast, athletic and have a lot of size,” said Ubly coach Dave Kaufman. “They’re a really good team.”
The Hornets had an easy time last week with Kingston in a 54-6 win. The Bearcats had to hold off Saginaw Michigan Lutheran Seminary in a 22-15 decision.
Last week’s win continued a trend for New Lothrop as it got out to a quick start, leading 21-6 after the first quarter.
In 10 first quarters so far, the team has scored an astounding 260 points — and 580 overall.
Ubly has scored 292 for the season.
During Week 7, the Hornets racked up 44 points in the first quarter on their way to a 68-0 win over Morrice.
“They’ve scored a lot of points in the first half,” Kaufman said. “A lot of their games have been over with by halftime.
“It’s going to have coach (Chuck) Wright working hard this week to prepare our team. He will do a good job and have them ready for Friday night.”
Kaufman hopes he has the solution to slow down the Hornets’ offense.
“Our main focus is keeping the ball away from them with long consuming drives,” he said.
“We don’t want to get into a shootout with them. We can’t score 50 points in a game. We have to slow the game down and make them play our style of football.”
As impressive as New Lothrop’s offense has been, it’s defense has been stingy, only allowing 39 points for the season.
In fact, Kingston was just the second team this season to come away with points in the first quarter.
Ubly may have to call on its bench again.
During the first quarter last week, running back/linebacker Jason Kaufman was hurt.
It was another in a long line of injuries the team has had to overcome this season. Kaufman’s injury allowed the likes of Nick Sweeney, Austin Bischer and David Rutkowski to step up.
They all answered the call.
“We were very happy with the three guys coming in and contributing the way they did,” Kaufman said. “We’re hoping that we have (Jason), but we’re planning for him and without him.”
Coach Kaufman said a decision on Jason Kaufman and fellow injured running back Jesse Franzel will likely be made today.
New Lothrop runs a number of different formations, getting many players involved in the action.
Last week, Spencer Gross torched Kingston for 181 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Quarterback Austin Newman completed 5-of-6 passes for 121 yards and two scores.
Wade Erhardt hauled in three balls for 112 yards and two TDs.
“They run a lot of different people,” Kaufman said. “Their quarterback is a big guy, he runs well, throws well.
“They have a lot of different weapons that can contribute.”
This will be Ubly’s seventh meeting in the playoffs against a team from the Genesee Area Blue Conference. In that stretch, the Bearcats have played Genesee three times (2006, 2008, 2009), New Lothrop (2003, 2004) and Burton Bendle (2001).
All of the previous games produced wins, and only one was within single digits.
The league sent three teams to the playoffs, including Burton Bendle and Byron.
Meanwhile, the Greater Thumb East was represented with five teams in the postseason. Three are still vying for district championships.
“We played some tough competition this year, some really hard-nosed football, but I don’t know if we’ve played anyone with as much team speed,” Kaufman said.
“Our kids, with the football that we’ve played, should be well prepared. We have to contain them. We can’t let guys get to the outside.”
Ubly will have to leave the friendly confines of Herp Field much earlier than it has in the past.
Due to its Thumb-record 34-game regular season winning streak, the Bearcats haven’t had to travel.
Their last true road playoff game came on Nov. 2, 2007 at Harbor Beach.
“These kids have played in some hostile environments before,” Kaufman said. “When you get out there on the football field, it’s you against them, it doesn’t matter what the crowd is doing.”
The winner of this game will host the winner of the Melvindale Academy at Petersburg-Summerfield contest for the regional championship.
Ubly (8-2) at New Lothrop (10-0), 7 p.m. Friday
W1: USA 28-0
W2: Sandusky 14-6
W3: Marlette 0-14
W4: Mayville 52-6
W5: H. Beach 22-34
W6: Bad Axe 44-0
W7: Brown City 46-14
W8: Deckerville 20-0
W9: N. Huron 44-0
W10: Sag. MLS 22-15
PF: 292 (29.2)
PA: 89 (8.9)
W1: Bendle 63-13
W2: Atherton 56-6
W3: Hamady 56-6
W4: Dryden 63-0
W5: Bentley 61-0
W6: Web’ville 68-0
W7: Morrice 68-0
W8: Genesee 56-0
W9: Byron 35-8
W10: King. 54-6
PF: 580 (58.0)
PA: 39 (3.9)
ADAMS SAYS: All of the blowouts are impressive, but I guarantee New Lothrop hasn’t played a team tougher than Ubly.
PICK: Ubly 28, New Lothrop 20