FAYETTE CROSS COUNTRY: It’s going to be a different situation this season for Fayette’s boys cross country team. Where’s the stand-out runner heading for the state meet? He graduated, but he left behind a good corps of solid runners.
Perhaps the next stand-out is a freshman—Skylar Lantz who finished first Saturday among the Eagle runners at the Defiance Early Bird Open. The freshman was only five seconds ahead of senior Trevor Cox, and Fayette coach Bryan Stambaugh expects the pair to battle for supremacy. Another senior, Dalton Goeltzenleuchter, was just another 30 seconds back, giving the Eagles a strong pack.
Other team members are seniors Nathan Seiler and Tim Stoltzfus, juniors Cole Burkholder and Dusty Lantz, sophomores Ian Schrock and Dylan Aschemeier, and freshmen Jared Wagner and Dylan Stannard.
On the girls side, junior Melanie Seiler returns from her impressive first season last year when she fell only a few seconds short of a trip to state. At Defiance, sophomore returner Jill Stuckey was just 20 seconds behind.
That’s another pair that Stambaugh expects to challenge one another.
“Jill should be able to stay close,” he said, but she’ll need to push herself to win.
Rounding out the small girls team is senior Sarah Kovar, junior Ashtyn Baker, sophomore Madelyn Maginn and freshman Liz Maginn.
At the Defiance run, Seiler took 14th overall at 22:26, followed by Stuckey (18th, 22:46), Liz Maginn (49th, 24:25), Kovar (61st, 25:24), Madelyn Maginn (78th, 26:54) and Baker (88th, 27:39).
Wauseon freshman Taylor Vernot won the race at 20:15.
The Eagles seemed to match up well with the Pettisville team, Stambaugh said, although no team scores were computed in the open run.
In the boys race, Napoleon senior Steven Weaver, repeated as champion with a time of 16:36.
For the Eagles, Lantz took 37th at 19:25, followed by Cox (41st, 19:30), Goeltzenleuchter (54th, 20:00), Schrock (74th, 20:48), Burkholder (82nd, 21:04), Seiler (99th, 21:35), Stoltzfus (104th, 21:44), Wagner (105th, 21:44), Aschemeier (114th, 21:54), Stannard (115th, 22:00), and Lantz (117th, 22:08).
Coach Stambaugh was impressed with his two younger squads and figures they would have scored highly in team scoring.
Fayette boys were led by eighth grader Casen Burkholder, (10th, 13:11), who was followed by Austin Lopez (14th, 13:42), Alex Jaramillo (21st, 14:12), Christian Suarez (22nd, 14:17), Bryce Conklin (29th, 14:36), Jared Seiler (33rd, 14:44), Mason Maginn (48th, 15:30), Joel Smith (53rd, 15:49), Cole Stuckey (57th, 16:03) and Jason Stuckey (68th,17:28).
Kaela Seiler placed second (14:45), followed by Haley Perdue (6th, 15:14), Kelsey Fruchey (7th, 15:17) and Taylor Griffiths (32nd, 16:52).
With eight seniors gone from last year’s squad, how could a coach be anything but worried about the prospects for the new season?
Fayette coach Danni Keefer knows she lost a lot of talent and height, but she’s still looking forward to a good season from her team.
“I’m looking at a good, positive year,” Keefer said, “and the girls are having so much fun.”
What the Eagles lack in height, perhaps they’ll make up in determination.
“They have a great attitude. They’re communicating. They’re very positive we each other. They’re getting lots of help from each other. The girls are excited,” Keefer said, “and they’re hoping for a good season.”
Senior players are front row player Reba Rash and back row player Kayla Wagner. Setter Cady Stockburger is the only varsity returnee from the junior class.
Other juniors are front row player Allison Cuff and all-around player Jessica White.
Sophomore class members are Makayla Smith and Taylor Hartman—both all-around players—and spiker Jenna Myers who will shift between the varsity and JV teams. Some other JV players may see some time with the varsity squad, also.
So far, Keefer has seen good serving skills shown by Stockburger, Wagner and Rash. She doesn’t expect to make use of the libero position this season since she has so many all-purpose players.
Several girls played with a summer league in Liberty Center, but Coach Keefer wasn’t able to be part of the action. She and the girls both have some learning to do.
“Our first couple of matches will be rough,” Keefer said.
She will start off with some trial-and-error games to see how the girls might best fit in.
She’ll find out soon how far her energetic, spirited squad can go.
FAYETTE GOLF: Fayette golf coach Ryan Colegrove has a solid lineup among his top four players. Now he needs that fifth and sixth person to step up fill the final two positions.
“We’re pretty solid with Jon Boesger, Zayne Colegrove, Dusty Lantz and Riley Martin,” Colegrove said.
He sees Boesger as the top returner to lead the squad. Boesger and Colegrove were both named to last year’s second team all-BBC.
Martin and Lantz also finished well in the league meet.
Freshman Michael Brubaker put in a lot of time on the course over the summer, the coach said, and he might move into the scoring range.
Other freshmen are Ryan Gilmore (out with an ankle injury), Skylar Lantz and Justin White.
Returning sophomores are Thomas Ehman, Nathaniel Harvey, Collin McCabe and Cody Stuckey.
Other juniors are Tiffany Bates, Alec Hylander and Matt Storrs. Quintin Keefer joins Boesger as the other senior on the squad.
“The biggest thing that I am looking for this year is consistency,” Colegrove said. “I have some players who can go low, but then they can turn around the next day and shoot a big number. I would like to see that level out. If that happens we can be competitive with most teams on our schedule.”
Thursday at Ironwood, Fayette downed Pettisville 175-226. Lantz came through with medalist honors at 40, followed by Colegrove, 43; Martin, 44; Hylander, 48; Boesger, 49; and White, 60.
At De-Mor Hills last Tuesday, Delta win a tri-match with 170, followed by Fayette’s 188 and Hilltop’s 197. Delta’s Brandon Bailey was medalist at 39.
For the Eagles, Martin was tops at 44, followed by Boesger, 46; Colegrove, 47; Hylander, 51; and Storrs, 54.
MORENCI FOOTBALL: Catch us if you can.
There are sure to be teams that can corral Morenci’s speedy backfield, but Jonesville is not among them.
It was a sweet night at the Comets’ field Friday night for Morenci coach Taz Wallace. The 48-0 shellacking of Jonesville was both his first win as the Bulldogs’ leader and also his first career victory as a head coach.
Morenci had 19 points on the scoreboard before the Comets ever crossed the 50-yard line. More than 14 minutes passed before the Comets made a first down—one that didn’t come from a Morenci penalty, that is.
That’s a word that stabs Coach Wallace: penalty. The Bulldogs had three touchdowns called back due to penalties and finished the game with 110 yards worth of infractions.
Wallace didn’t agree with all the calls, but as he told his squad, it’s something you can’t control and you just have to play the game.
Morenci’s first offensive play of the contest—a touchdown pass to freshman Austin Sandusky—was nullified due to a holding call, but rookie quarterback Cody Powell soon found Hayze Wolf open for a 42-yard pass play and the Bulldogs’ first score. Kendrick Taylor kicked the first of four PATs.
Jonesville soon punted and the Bulldogs were on the scoreboard again at 4:24. After Gemonte Gibson’s 32-yard gain, Powell passed to Sandusky in the end zone. The ball bounced off another player’s hands and into the freshman’s arms.
Powell scored the next touchdown, traveling 47 yards on a keeper and a 19-0 lead with 90 seconds left in the quarter.
The Comets made a pair of first downs on Morenci penalties and advanced to the Bulldog 17 before fumbling. Two penalties on a single play nullified a touchdown run by Max Gautz and Morenci never scored in the second quarter.
Simon Jeffers hauled in a pair of passes early in the third quarter and scored on the second one—a 65-yard play. On a bad snap from center, Taylor picked up the ball and ran for two points.
A touchdown by KC Clegg was called back due to a penalty, but three plays later Gibson streaked 42 yards for a score.
Gautz returned a punt for a touchdown to make it 41-0 at 8:55 in the fourth quarter. After a 20-yard pass to Jeffers, Clegg had another shot at the goal line and raced 31 yards for the final score.
Powell finished as the largest ground gainer with 70 yards on six carries and he passed to five receivers for 204 yards in the air.
“That’s a good problem to have,” Wallace said about his corral of receivers. “These guys have been working really hard for several months.”
He’s pleased with the versatility of his ground and air attack and says it will vary from week to week.
“It depends on what the defense gives us,” he said.
Coach Wallace starts the season with only 17 varsity players, but said he isn’t disappointed with numbers. There are 44 players in the program—not bad for a small school, he says—and he knows of other districts having trouble attracting players.
Wallace sees good team speed at all skill positions and his players up front are mostly in the 200 to 245 pound range.
Linemen include seniors Lucas Hollstein, Jacob McVay, Jordan Bach and Larry Barron, junior Matt Heinze and sophomore Eli Decker. There are also a rookie senior, Sam Fallot.
Cody Powell, the junior quarterback, will be backed up by his leading ball carrier, senior Max Gautz. Wallace lists as receivers/running backs seniors Jay Howard, Simon Jeffers and Gemonte Gibson, juniors Austin Thomas, Kendrick Taylor and Hayze Wolf, sophomore KC Clegg and freshman Austin Sandusky.
Bach handles punting, Gautz kicks off and Taylor kicks PATs.
Wallace is pleased with how the team is working together.
“The kids have bought into what we’re doing and they’re all family,” he said.
He’s insisting that the Bulldogs play a tough, physical contest and in all phases of the game.
“It’s going to be a fight for 48 minutes,” he said. “We expect to win every time we step onto the field.”
The season opener gave Wallace some things to correct in preparation for a trip Thursday to Hudson—38-28 winners against Hillsdale last week. The Tigers are seeking their 14th consecutive win over Morenci.
Fans may be looking toward Sept. 30 when the Bulldogs travel to face their rivals from Sand Creek. The Aggies look as though they’re ready to spoil Coach Wallace’s début season as they trounced Blissfield 53-6.
One game at a time, Wallace responds.
“There’s no time to be complacent,” he said.
MORENCI JV FOOTBALL: Morenci’s JV football team trailed Jonesville 12-6 early in the fourth quarter, but the Comets made the most of the final minutes to win 26-6.
“We were in the red zone six times,” said coach Dan Hoffman, but only made it into the end zone once.
Colin Smith scored the Bulldogs’ lone touchdown on a three-yard run.
Morenci finished with 212 yards to Jonesville’s 255. The Bulldogs also came through with two interceptions.
Daiton Lemmon led tacklers with 13, followed by Nick Stutzman and Torin Merillat with nine each.
Hoffman expects a more disciplined game from his squad this week against Hudson and he welcomes the return of at least one of the three players who missed the Jonesville contest.
Hudson defeated Hillsdale last week and visits Morenci tonight (Wednesday) at 6 p.m.
MORENCI CROSS: Morenci’s girls cross country team will be scoring team points this season, but the boys squad is one player short.
Coach Brad Brown hopes to pick up one more runner after school starts next week to give the boys a fifth person for a full team.
The Bulldogs’ girls squad should come through with some good showings, Brown said, with two state qualifiers from last season.
Sophomore Mariah Gillen qualified for the state finals last year as a freshman in Div. IV. In Div. III, Blissfield freshman Tatyana Pless was also a qualifier and this year she’s moved to Morenci.
The other three returners—senior Kourtney Cousino and juniors Taylor Baugh and Mary Margaret Hollstein—are all working hard to improve from last year’s times.
Brown expected the boys to offer a competitive squad against league favorite Clinton, but Morenci’s fifth runner is no longer eligible.
Luke and Jake Spaulding, juniors, return to lead the squad after logging a lot of miles over the summer. Sophomore Reagan Stowell is back for a second year and Spencer Elliott is out for his freshman year.
Elliott has been running since fifth grade, Brown said, but he’ll have to make the adjustment to the longer high school course.
Coach Brown is expecting some slower times early in the season, but he’s expecting steady improvement as the season progresses.
MORENCI VOLLEYBALL: It wasn’t just the loss of five seniors that affected Morenci volleyball coach Dennis Owens when he walked into the gym for the first day of practice. The loss was greater than that.
Those five girls had been part of the program ever since he joined the coaching staff six seasons ago.
Those graduates provided the bulk of the hitting, blocking and setting the team had the last three years.
Fortunately, the players he has on the court now are helping him forget about those who have moved on.
“I’m really pleased with their effort, hustle and togetherness,” Owens said. “They’re playing well together and that can go a long way in volleyball.”
The Bulldogs advanced Saturday to the semifinals of the Blissfield Invitational, and with a 5-3-1 record, they’re doing better than a year ago at this point.
“I’m absolutely thrilled with how we’re playing,” said the coach after the tournament. “We didn’t have a down match today.”
For the second time this season, the Bulldogs played with only seven girls.
The returning seniors are Matea Garcia—last year’s libero—back row player Carolyn Blaker and Chelsea Phillips. Blaker will take more of an all-around role this season, while front row player Phillips should be back in action for the next match after recovering from illness.
Seven juniors make up the remainder, with only one varsity letter-winner. The returner is Brooke Bovee who is leading the squad in hitting so far.
Hannah Jeffers is an all-around player and Erin Vanderpool is taking the libero role. Taylor Schisler and Ashley VanBrant are front-row players, while Jessica Storrs will take a back-row post. Storrs missed the first two outings.
Breanna Gilson will be back with her old teammates later in September when clearance comes from her doctor. If her knee holds up, Owens said, her hitting, setting and passing skills will open some new possibilities for the squad.
Phillips was top ace server as a junior, and Owens expects Bovee and Garcia to join her as the best at the serving line, but he might be in for an occasional surprise. Saturday at Blissfield, Blaker never missed a serving attempt.
In pool play, the Bulldogs beat Britton Deerfield and Michigan Center but split with Blissfield. In bracket play, they beat Dundee and lost to the eventual champions from Madison. The second game ended 25-23.
League play opens Sept. 13 at Sand Creek and Coach Owens expects his squad to be ready for the challenge.