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Times unveils All-Area football team



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December 06, 2017
TRI-CITY AREA- From the opening game until the last, these competitors made a name for themselves with their play out on the gridiron.

Here is a look at who earned a spot on the 2017 edition of The Tri-City Times All-Area football lineup and the credentials they amassed along the way:

Bruce Bollini, Imlay City, kicker.

Bollini connected on four extra point kicks this fall.

"He had a strong leg that backed our opponents up when he kicked off or punted for us," Imlay City Coach Steve Lestage said. "Bruce helped our defense out tremendously by his kicking efforts," he noted.

The 6-0 and 175-pound senior finished the 2017 campaign as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team pick.

Luke Forti, Imlay City, quarterback.

The 6-2 and 200-pound sophomore connected on 113 of 224 pass plays for 1,573 yards during the 2017 campaign.

"Luke's arm kept us in a lot of games this year," Imlay City Coach Steve Lestage said. "I look forward to watching him continue to play two more varsity seasons," he noted.

"He is just scratching the surface on his football ability."

This marked his first year on Imlay City's varsity.

Brandon Muzljakovich, Capac, quarterback.

Muzljakovich completed 95 of 196 pass plays for 1,319 yards, including 10 touchdowns, this fall.

It was his second year on Capac's varsity.

'Brandon is a good athlete and a hard worker," Capac Coach Bill Nestle observed. "He set a school record for completions in a season (95) and passing yards in a game (268) this fall," he noted.

"I appreciate the extra time he put in to be the best quarterback he could be."

The 5-8 and 155-pound senior ended the year as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team choice.

Clay Schapman, Almont, quarterback.

Schapman connected on 47 of 89 pass plays for 943 yards, including eight touchdowns, during the 2017 campaign.

"He had another great season for us," Almont Coach James Leusby said. "His comeback in the second half of our playoff game against Frankenmuth was one of the best performances I have witnessed in my 18 years of coaching," he noted.

The 6-2 and 190-pound senior completed his third season on Almont's varsity as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team selection.

Blake Porter, Dryden, fullback.

Porter rushed the ball 163 times for 1,327 yards, an average of 8.1 yards per tote, during the 2017 campaign. His output was tops among those players named to The Tri-City Times All-Area first team lineup.

The 5-11 and 180-pound senior fullback finished the season with 12 rushing touchdowns to his credit.

He also had four catches for 34 yards, an average of 8.5 yards per reception.

"He is a tough minded player who works extremely hard," Dryden Coach Al Hutchinson said. "Blake never complained all season long," he noted.

"He runs the position as it was meant to be run."

This was his fourth season on Dryden's varsity.

Hunter Gall, Dryden, halfback.

Gall generated 1,275 yards on 130 totes, an average of 9.8 yards per carry, during the 2017 campaign.

The 5-11 and 190-pound senior ended the season with 18 rushing touchdowns to his credit.

He also hauled in six receptions for 125 yards, an average of 20.8 yards per catch, while collecting two touchdowns.

Gall contributed four touchdowns via the return route to Dryden's cause as well.

"He is an extremely competitive player and a hard worker," Dryden Coach Al Hutchinson commented. "Hunter was always ready to go and had his best games against the best teams," he noted.

Gall wrapped up his fourth year for Dryden's squad as an All-North Central Thumb League second team choice on offense.

Jace Rinke, Almont, halfback.

Rinke rushed the ball 42 times for 512 yards, an average of 12.2 yards per tote, during the 2017 campaign.

The 5-9 and 160-pound junior halfback completed the season with nine touchdowns to his credit.

Rinke also provided seven catches for 206 yards, an average of 29.4 yards per reception. He collected three touchdowns along the way.

"Jace could be one of the best young athletes in the BWAC," Almont Coach James Leusby said. "Every time he touches the ball he is a threat to take it to the house," he noted.

Rinke ended his second season on Almont's varsity as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team selection.

Reid Bannister, Imlay City, wide receiver.

Bannister supplied 43 catches for 534 yards, an average of 12.5 yards per reception, this fall.

The 6-0 and 160-pound senior completed the season with two total touchdowns to his credit.

"He ran crisp routes and had excellent hands," Imlay City Coach Steve Lestage said. "Reid was elusive in space and you could always count on him picking up more yards after the catch," he noted.

Bannister concluded the year as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team pick on offense.

Jordan Hellmuth, Capac, split end.

Hellmuth furnished 32 receptions for 542 yards, an average of 16.9 yards per catch, during the 2017 campaign.

The 6-0 and 155-pound junior finished the season with four touchdowns to his credit.

"Jordan played really well on both sides of the ball," Capac Coach Bill Nestle said. "He is a tremendous athlete and has the potential to have a bright future," he noted.

Hellmuth ended his initial campaign on Capac's varsity as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team selection.

Chase Kapron, Almont, tight end.

Kapron managed 17 catches for 361 yards, an average 21.2 yards per reception, this fall.

The 6-1 and 205-pound senior ended the season with two touchdown catches.

"He started for us on both sides of the ball," Almont Coach James Leusby said. "When we threw the football Chase was the target we went to most often and he came through for us," he noted.

This was his third season on Almont's varsity.

Chris Stillinger, Almont, center.

Stillinger's reliability up front proved key to Almont's offensive success, according to Raider Coach James Leusby.

"He played really well for us this season," Leusby said. "We had no fumbles with the center to quarterback exchange," he emphasized.

This was the second season for the 5-8 and 185-pound senior on Almont's varsity.

Jesse Prososki, Dryden, center.

When the Dryden offense clicked, it was Prososki's play at center that helped put them in position to pile up those yards.

"He was a great leader for us and was captain of our offensive line." Dryden Coach Al Hutchinson commented. "Jesse lost over 100 pounds in the offseason and came ready to play," he noted.

"The kid worked hard and the results followed."

This marked the first year for the 6-0 and 220-pound junior on Dryden's varsity.

Drew Schapman, Almont, guard.

Schapman proved an impact performer for Almont on both sides of the ball this fall.

"He was a two-way starter for us this fall," Almont coach James Leusby said. "Drew was the leader of our offensive line unit," he noted.

The 5-11 and 210-pound senior finished the 2017 campaign as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team selection.

Jacob Hausmann, Almont, guard.

Almont averaged 263.2 rushing yards per contest and Hausmann often proved the catalyst for those successful plays this fall.

"He was brought up to varsity last season after game six," Almont Coach James Leusby said. "Jacob has not looked back since that time," he noted.

The 5-10 and 195-pound junior capped his second season on Almont's varsity as an All-Blue Water Area Conference honorable mention choice.

Defense

Drew Schapman, Almont, guard.

Schapman furnished three solo and 11 assisted tackles during the 2017 campaign.

In addition to those numbers, Schapman had one forced fumble.

It was his second campaign on Almont's varsity.

"He was a two-way standout for us," Almont Coach James Leusby said. "Drew was our most physical player and also played with a high level of intensity," he noted.

The 5-11 and 210-pound guard concluded the 2017 campaign as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team pick.

Hunter Gall, Dryden, end.

Gall collected 89 tackles this fall.

The 5-11 and 190-pound senior also provided Dryden with three fumble recoveries

This was his fourth year on Dryden's varsity.

"He was very hard to block when we moved him to defensive end, Dryden Coach Al Hutchinson said. "Hunter is very aggressive and that intensity led to a succesful year," he noted.

He wrapped up the season as an All-North Central Thumb League second team choice on defense.

Martin Saavedra, Almont, end.

Saavedra wound up with 36 assisted and four solo tackles during the 2017 campaign.

It was his second campaign on Almont's varsity.

"He was the anchor of our defense," Almont Coach James Leusby said. "Martin was the one player we could never block in practice and other teams figured it out too," he noted.

"He demanded to be doubled or he was in the backfield making plays. He has a motor that never stops."

The 5-9 and 220-pound senior completed the 2017 campaign as an All-Blue Water Area Conference honorable mention selection.

Blake Porter, Dryden, linebacker.

Porter had a hand in on 140 tackles this fall.

The 5-11 and 180-pound senior also registered a pair of fumble recoveries.

This was his fourth year on Dryden's varsity.

"He was an absolute force wherever we decided to put him. "Blake made tackles all over the field," he noted.

Porter ended the year as an All-North Central Thumb League second team choice on defense.

Blake Kapron, Almont, linebacker.

Kapron managed 62 assisted and 15 solo tackles during the 2017 campaign.

In addition to those numbers, Kapron contributed one fumble recovery.

It was the first year for the 5-9 and 175-pound sophomore on Almont's varsity.

"He has a bright future ahead of him," Almont Coach James Leusby said. "It will be great having him back for a couple more years," he noted.

Jacob Hausmann, Almont, linebacker.

Hausmann wound up with 68 assisted and six solo tackles this fall.

The 5-10 and 195-pound sophomore also recovered three fumbles.

This was his second year on Almont's varsity.

"He is at the top of our team in every defensive category," Almont Coach James Leusby said. "It will be great having him back for two more years," he emphasized.

Hausmann finished the season as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team pick.

Danny Navarro, Capac, linebacker.

Navarro accumulated 17 assisted and 31 solo tackles during the 2017 campaign.

In addition to those numbers, Navarro wound up with two fumble recoveries.

It was his second campaign on Almont's varsity.

"He never came off the field for us this year," Capac Coach Bill Nestle commented. "I appreciate the effort he has given this program," he noted.

The 6-0 and 180-pound senior completed the 2017 campaign as an All-Blue Water Area Conference pick.

Jace Rinke, Almont, linebacker.

Rinke supplied 16 solo and 10 assisted tackles this fall.

In addition to those numbers, Rinke registered one forced fumble.

This was his second year on Almont's varsity.

"He excels on both sides of the football," Almont Coach James Leusby said. "If he has a great offseason in the weight room he will be a contender for BWAC Player of the Year honors his senior campaign," he noted.

The 5-9 and 160-pound junior finished the year as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team choice.

Defensive backs

Reid Bannister, Imlay City, defensive back.

Bannister had a hand in on 130 tackles during the 2017 campaign.

In addition to those numbers, Bannister also registered three interceptions, furnished three fumble recoveries and forced one fumble.

"Reid was always around the ball for us defensively," Imlay City Coach Steve Lestage said. He loved to come up from his secondary position and hit people," he noted.

The 6-0 and 160-pound senior wrapped up the year as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team selection and a Michigan High School Football Coaches Association Division 4 All-State honorable mention choice.

Clay Schapman, Almont, defensive back.

Schapman collected 12 solos and 14 assisted stops this fall.

This was his third season on Almont's varsity.

"He can always be counted on to give 100 percent at all times," Almont Coach James Leusby said. "We were confident that he could get the job done when his turn to play defense rolled around," he noted

The 6-2 and 190-pound junior wrapped up the year as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team selection.

Jordan Hellmuth, Capac, defensive back.

Hellmuth managed 23 solo and 22 assisted tackles during the 2017 campaign.

In addition to those numbers, Hellmuth contributed two interceptions and one fumble recovery to Capac's cause.

"Whether it was on defense or offense Jordan got the job done for us," Capac Coach Bill Nestle said. "It will be great having him around for another season," he emphasized.

The 6-0 and 155-pound junior completed the 2017 campaign as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team choice.

Honorable mention- Sam Peyerk, quarterback, Dryden; Curtis Homer, running back, Imlay City; Garrett Ruhala, Almont, running back/linebacker; Martin Saavedra, offensive tackle; Jarrad Adams, Dryden, tight end; Noah Galbraith, Imlay City, tight end; Ethan Hall, Almont, defensive back; Jack Paupert, defensive back; Chase Kapron, Almont, defensive end; Thomas Tyson, Capac, defensive end; Gerardo Navarro, Capac, defensive line; Austin Zwiez, Dryden, linebacker; and Jordan Cherry, Capac, linebacker.

Coach of the Year- For directing Almont to a 7-3 overall record, a 5-2 BWAC mark (good for third) and a Division 5 state playoff appearance, Raider Coach James Leusby earns Tri-City Times All-Area Coach of the Year accolades.

Kevin Kissane has been covering high school sports for the Tri-City Times since 1985. When not standing on a field or court with his camera and notepad, he enjoys golf, travel and family. Kevin is a 1980 graduate of Capac High School, and is also a grad of St. Clair Community College and earned a degree in journalism from Central Michigan University.
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