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Times selects its All-Area football team


Capac lands nine All-Area honorees, Dryden gets eight and Almont lands five



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December 02, 2009
TRI-CITY AREA — The 2009 campaign proved a successful one for Tri-City teams as three schools finished with a .500 or better mark.

Capac led the way, putting together a 7-4 record, while Dryden and Almont posted 5-4 marks.

Not surprisingly, those aforementioned ballclubs received the most attention when it was time to announce our Tri-City Times All-Area honorees.

Here is a look at who made the ballclub and the numbers they generated along the way:

Kicking

Ben McNally, Almont

The 6-1 and 175-pound senior proved true on 18 of 19 extra-point kicks and three out of four field goal attempts, including a long of 42 yards, during the 2009 campaign.

"He has a tremendous work ethic," Almont Coach Jeremy Ferman said. "Ben has been a major contributor to our success the past two seasons," he emphasized.

Offensive backs

Aaron Thompson,

Imlay City, quarterback

Thompson completed 134 of 316 pass plays for a school-record setting total of 1,567 yards, including 12 touchdowns during the 2009 campaign. He threw 13 interceptions en route to those numbers.

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Nick Nivison, of Imlay City, heads up the field after making a catch during a game this past fall. photo by Kevin Kissane.

"When you have to become one dimensional because you can't run the ball it puts a lot of pressure on the quarterback," Imlay City Coach John Forti said. "Aaron stood up to that challenge very well and was able to put up good numbers as a result," he noted.

The 6-2 and 180-pound senior wrapped up his second season on Imlay City's varsity as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team selection.

James Morgan, Capac, halfback

Morgan generated a Tri-City best output of 1,327 yards this season.

It took him 225 totes, an average of 5.8 yards per carry, to accumulate that total. He collected seven touchdowns along the way.

Morgan also caught six passes for 62 yards, an average of 10.3 yards per reception.

"He did his job and then some this season," Capac Coach Tom Manney said. "We could also count on him to keep the drive going," he noted.

Morgan, a 5-10 and 190-pound senior fullback, finished his second season on Capac's squad as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team choice.

Addam Wierbicki, Almont, halfback

Wierbicki rushed the ball 159 times for 1024 yards, an average of 6.4 yards per tote, while collecting 14 touchdowns during the 2009 campaign.

He also had 15 receptions for 212 yards, leaving himself with an average of 14.1 yards per catch.

"After last season Addam made a commitment to becoming a better athlete and football player," Almont Coach Jeremy Ferman said. "The rest of his dedication during the offseason really was evident this season," he noted.

"He was a tough, strong runner with great balance and very good hands. Addam was our team and offensive MVP. He has the ability to play at the next level and is a very intelligent young man."

The 6-1 and 192-pound senior concluded his second campaign on Almont's team as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team pick.

Anthony Closurdo, Capac, halfback

Closurdo ranked third on the Tri-City rushing list, chewing up 817 yards of territory this season.

It took him 123 totes, an average of 6.6 yards per carry, to produce that total. He collected four touchdowns along the way.

Closurdo also caught five passes for 65 yards, an average of 13 yards per reception, with four touchdown catches.

Closurdo, a 5-10 and 160-pound junior, concluded his debut season on Capac's squad as an All-Blue Water Area Conference honorable mention selection.

Geno Volante, Dryden,

halfback

Volante rushed the ball 110 times for 770 yards, an average of 7.0 yards per tote, while collecting three touchdowns and five PAT's during the 2009 campaign.

"He displayed great quickness and great speed in the open field," Dryden Coach Brian Tresnak said. "Geno got to be a lot tougher runner by the end of the year and really figured out how to fight for tough yards," he emphasized.

The 5-10 and 160-pound senior wrapped up the campaign as an All-North Central Thumb League second team choice.

Receivers

Nick Nivison, Imlay City, receiver

Nivison supplied a school record-setting output of 55 receptions for 657 yards, an average of 11.9 yards per catch, with eight touchdowns this season.

He also carried the ball 32 times for 182 yards, an average of 5.7 yards per tote, while collecting one touchdown.

"Nick was the hardest worker on the team and one of our captains," Imlay City Coach John Forti said. "As you can tell by the numbers he put up that hard work paid off for him," he noted.

Nivison, a 5-10 and 160-pound junior, finished his second season on Imlay City's squad as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team pick.

Matt Burgess, Capac, receiver

Burgess hauled in 14 receptions for 184 yards, an average of 13.1 yards per catch, with three touchdowns during the 2009 campaign.

"When we were in need of a first down and had to pass the football he was the target we usually went to," Capac Coach Tom Manney commented. He is surehanded and the fact that he stands 6 feet 4 inches makes Matt tough to defend against," he noted.

Linemen

Chase Orzel, Almont,

center

Suffice it to say there was no sophomore jinx for Orzel during the 2009 campaign.

"He has started for us since his freshman year," Almont Coach Jeremy Ferman said. "Chase is one of our strongest players and the best offensive lineman," he noted.

"Halfway through the season we moved him from center to tackle, and as a result, our ability to run the ball off tackle greatly improved. We are fortunate to have chase coming back for two more years."

Pat White, Capac,

tackle

His presence up front enabled Capac to accumulate 2,827 yards rushing this fall.

"Here is someone who went from a very good lineman to a dominate lineman," he noted. "Pat had a positive attitude and a willingness to learn and that helped him enjoy the successful season he had," he noted.

The 6-4 and 295-pound senior tackle wrapped up his second season on Capac's squad as an Associated Press Division 5-6 All-State Special Honor selection and an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team choice.

Tom Bolday, Capac, guard

Though known for his prowess on the defensive side of the football, Bolday also proved an impact performer as an offensive lineman for Capac this fall.

"He was one of our better blockers this season," Capac Coach Tom Manney said. "That held especially true when we called on him to pull," Capac Coach Tom Manney said.

Bolday, a 5-11 and 185-pound junior, finished his second season on Capac's varsity as an All-Blue Water Area Conference honorable mention pick.

Mike Smith, Dryden, tackle

Dryden Coach Brian Tresnak was quick to respond when asked to list the reasons why Smith should secure a spot on the 2009 edition of The Tri-City Times All-Area first team lineup.

"He is everything you want in a left tackle, big, athletic and mean," Tresnak said. "Mike has some of the quickest feet I have ever seen on a big guy and does a great job getting blocks at all levels of the defense," he noted.

Smith, a junior, concluded the season as an All-North Central Thumb League first team selection.

Punting

Mike Burgess, Capac, punter

The 6-0 and 170-pound senior punted the ball 41 times for 1,412 yards, an average of 34.4 yards per kick, this fall, Six of those aforementioned efforts were inside the opposing 20-yard line.

Defensive Linemen

Clifford Healy, Dryden, tackle

Healy wound up with 15 solos, including one quarterback sack, during the 2009 campaign.

"He was our second leading tackler as an undersized, quick and tenacious defensive tackle," Dryden Coach Brian Tresnak said. "Clifford hit double digits in tackles twice during the season, which is impressive for anyone in our system and especially a defensive tackle," he noted.

The senior ended the campaign on Dryden's varsity as an All-North Central Thumb League first team selection.

Ed Niemi, Capac,

defensive end

Niemi furnished 48 solo tackles, including one quarterback sack, 17 assisted stops tand one fumble recovery this fall.

"He was a picture of intensity out on the field," Capac Coach Tom Manney said. "That allowed him to have the kind of season he did," he noted.

The 6-4 and 177-pound defensive end wrapped up his second season on Capac's varsity as an All-Blue Water Area Conference honorable mention choice.

Sean Murphy, Dryden, defensive end

Murphy supplied 20 solo stops, including three quarterback sacks, during the 2009 campaign.

"He is probably the quickest defensive end I have ever coached and has a motor that never quits," Dryden Coach Brian Tresnak said of the sophomore. "Sean was extremely disruptive and did a good job against outside runs, but really excelled as a pass rusher," he noted.

Jake Ferrell, Almont,

defensive line

Ferrell made it two straight years as a Tri-City Times All-Area first team choice, this time accomplishing the feat as a defensive lineman.

"He was our best defensive lineman," Almont Coach Jeremy Ferman said. "Jake will be one of our captains next year and should have a good season," he noted.

Ferrell, a 5-10 and 210-pound junior, finished the season as an All-Blue Water Area Conference honorable mention pick.

Linebackers

Tom Bolday, Capac,

linebacker

Bolday amassed 87 solo tackles 26 assisted stops and one fumble recovery this fall.

"He expected a lot out of himself and those around him," Capac Coach Tom Manney said. "Tom led by example," he noted.

The 5-11 and 185-pound junior concluded his second season on Capac's varsity as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team pick.

Erik O'Connor, Almont, linebacker

O'Connor registered 78 total tackles and intercepted a pass this season.

"He was the player that the rest of the team rallied behind," Almont Coach Jeremy Ferman said. Erik had a natural nose for the ball," he noted.

"He was our defensive MVP. His toughness will be missed."

The 6-0 and 180-pound senior concluded the season, his first in a starting capacity, as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team selection.

Cody Barker, Dryden,

linebacker

Barker managed 21 solo stops, including one quarterback sack, and 57 assisted tackles during the 2009 campaign.

In addition to those numbers, Barker provided Dryden with three fumble recoveries, three forced fumbles and one pass defense.

"He was our leading tackler this year," Dryden Coach Brian Tresnak said. "Cody has an excellent nose for the ball and did an excellent job recognizing offensive formations and calling out the appropriate defensive adjustments," he emphasized.

"He was an excellent run-stopper for us this season."

The senior finished the season as an All-North Central Thumb League first team selection.

Nick Ouillette, Almont,

linebacker

Ouillette furnished 62 total tackles, including 12 for a loss, and six quarterback sacks during the 2009 campaign.

"Pound for pound Nick is the strongest player in our program," Almont Coach Jeremy Ferman said. "His work ethic and commitment to the football program are second to none," he emphasized.

"He was our second leading tackler and our leader in tackles for loss and sacks. Nick is one of our captains for next year and is looking forward to leading us back to a BWAC championship."

Ouillette, a 5-8 and 170-pound junior, completed his first season in a starting role as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team choice.

Andy McDunnah, Capac, linebacker

McDunnah finished with 43 solo tackles, 28 assisted stops and one fumble recovery this fall.

"He played much bigger than his size," Capac Coach Tom Manney said. "Andy did not back down from any challenge and had a good season because of those assets," he noted.

The 5-10 and 150-pound senior ended his second season on Capac's varsity as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team choice.

David McKee, Capac,

linebacker

McKee provided 66 solos stops 11 assisted assisted tackles, five interceptions and two fumble recoveries during the 2009 campaign.

"David had a nose for the football," Capac Coach Tom Manney said of the 5-8 and 165-pound sophomore. "That enabled him to register seven takeaways in his first season at the varsity level."

"It will be great having him back for two more years."

A.J. Caldwell, Imlay City, linebacker

Caldwell provided Imlay City with 52 solo tackle and nine assists during the 2009 campaign.

The sophomore also contributed three tackles for a loss to Imlay City's cause.

"A.J. had a successful first year for us," Imlay City Coach John Forti said. "It will be great having him back for two more seasons," he noted.

Cory Clark, Dryden,

linebacker

Clark provided 22 solo tackles and 35 assisted stops this fall.

In addition to those numbers, Clark forced two fumbles, notched one fumble recovery and defense one pass.

"He did an excellent job on contain for us and really flowed hard to the ball," Dryden Coach Brian Tresnak said. "Cory had a tremendous burst that enabled him to chase down a lot of plays from behind," he noted.

The senior ended the season as an All-North Central Thumb League first team pick.

Defensive backs

Matt Burgess, Capac,

cornerback

The 6-5 and 200-pound senior, a two-year veteran on Capac's varsity, had 31 solo stops, including one quarterback sack, and nine assisted tackles during the 2009 campaign.

In addition to those numbers, Burgess intercepted three passes (two of which he returned for a touchdown) and contributed one fumble recovery.

"He had the knack for making the big play," Capac Coach Tom Manney said. "His three takeaways for touchdowns are an example of that," he noted.

Mike Burgess, Capac,

safety

Burgess accumulated 53 solo tackles, nine assisted stops, two interceptions and one fumble recovery this fall.

"He was focused on the matter at hand at all times," Capac Coach Tom Manney said. "Mike had a nose for the football," he emphasized.

The 6-0 and 170-pound senior wrapped up his second season on Capac's varsity as an All-Blue Water Area Conference first team selection.

Cody Paupert, Dryden,

safety

Paupert wound up with 17 solo stops, 31 assisted tackles, four tackles and defensed five passes during the 2009 campaign.

Paupert finished his third year on Dryden's squad as an All-North Central Thumb League first team choice.

Honorable mention - Joshua Kaiser, Capac, placekicker; Mike Nagy, Imlay City, center; Derek Kopp, Almont, offensive line/defensive end; Jake Jonik, Dryden, fullback; Cory Clark, Dryden, halfback; Cody Paupert, Dryden, quarterback; Brandon Gierman, Dryden, receiver; Ben McNally, Almont, punter; Aaron Thompson, Imlay City, punter; Nick Osborn, Capac, linebacker; Josh Kunath, Almont, defensive end; Mike Grundner, Almont, safety.

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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