Written by: Case Conley
Another year of high school sports has come and gone in the state of Michigan. There have been some dominating teams and some Cinderella runs in the postseasons this year and these are some of the notable state champions.
Grand Rapids Catholic Central Football
In the fall, Grand Rapids Catholic Central cruised by Marine City 31-7 to win their fifth state title in six years. The Cougars had a 14-0 season capped off by the Division 5 title victory in Ford Field. Led by Notre Dame commit Nolan Ziegler who caught 67 passes for 1,343 yards and 25 touchdowns along with 107 tackles on defense, they outscored opponents 190 to 26 in the postseason. Even without senior quarterback and walk-on at Michigan State Joey Silveri who had a season-ending knee injury in week 4 this year, the Cougars kept dominating with Division 1 baseball commit John Passinault at the helm who became the AP First Team Quarterback after throwing for 2,307 yards and 37 touchdowns with only 3 interceptions.
Adrian Lenawee Christian Football
Adrian Lenawee Christian was another team who won consecutive state championships. The Cougars defeated Suttons Bay 31-20 in a rematch of last year’s Division 1 8-player championship. Another undefeated season for the Cougars means they have a 24-0 record in the last 2 seasons. They were led by all-state receiver Elliott Addleman who caught 54 passes for 824 yards and 12 touchdowns along and all-state linebacker Collin Davis who finished the year with 102 tackles.
Warren De La Salle Boys Basketball
In the winter, Warren De La Salle won their first-ever Division 1 basketball state championship when they defeated defending state champions Grand Blanc 67-58 in March. They began the season 7-0 including wins against eventual district winners Ferndale and Holland West Ottawa. The Pilots struggled to end the year going 6-7 into the postseason but then got hot. They defeated three top ten teams on their way to the championship beating Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, Grand Rapids Northview, and Grand Blanc in the finals. Junior Michael Sulaka was on the all-state first team and head coach Gjon Djokaj was the coach of the year.
Midland Dow Hockey
Another team who won its first state title was Midland Dow as they shut out Orchard Lake St. Mary’s 2-0 in the Division 3 hockey final. The Chargers finished the season 20-5-3 led by their all-state goalie Collin Lemanski who only allowed 33 goals in 25 games to go with 7 shutouts. Head coach Dick Blasy was coach of the year and the Chargers had 3 other players who were on the first-team all-state.
Williamston Girls Soccer
Just a few weeks ago, Williamston came from behind to beat Hudsonville Unity Christian 3-2 to win the Division 3 state championship at Michigan State. With 10 minutes and down 2-1 left a 45-yard free-kick by senior captain and dream team member Liz Bellinger tied the game and the winner was scored with less than two minutes left by all-state lacrosse player Breyer Fenech. The Hornets won their first-ever girls soccer title with revenge over Unity Christian who beat them in the 2008 and 2010 state title games. The number 1 ranked Hornets finished with a record of 17-2-1. The Hornets were led by junior forward Ella Kleiver who scored 36 goals and 8 assists and was also a member of the dream team. This capped off a phenomenal athletic season for Williamston who also won state championships with an undefeated season in boys basketball and senior wrestler Ryker Johnecheck’s third straight state title in a row.
Forrest Hills Eastern Baseball
In the Division 2 state championship Forest Hills Eastern defeated Grand Rapids Christian 3-0 to take home the title. Butler commit Evan Parks threw a complete game 1 hitter along with going 3 for 3 from the plate with an RBI. Similarly in the semifinals, junior Jacob Pallo threw 9 strikeouts in 6.2 to shut out Goodrich 6-0. The number 1 ranked Hawks finished with a 39-4 record and capped it off with their first state championship. An inspiration all year has been honoring Molly Rasmussen, a student at Forest Hills Eastern who tragically died 2 years ago. The team had worn pink shoelaces and bracelets in the state final to honor her.