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Chelsea’s Owen Nikischer Leader Of The Pack

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Senior Middle Linebacker Owen Nikischer leads his team on the field for its first home game of 2017

The first thing you notice about Chelsea’s senior middle linebacker Owen Nikischer is how much he bulked up over the summer from last season. It is very apparent that he takes his role as a defensive leader very seriously and puts in a lot of hard work as he added much muscle to his already solid 6-foot 2-inch frame.

“I worked out a lot by myself over the summer,” Owen stated. “Sometimes I work out alone, sometimes I bring others along, but I like to always improve myself and help others improve themselves if I can.”

Owen or the “Big O” as many call him has one of the most important defensive jobs on his side of the ball in football. He has to back up the linemen and also use quick judgment on every snap to determine his role on that play. The middle linebacker is usually called the “quarterback of the defense” because they shout plays into other players and has much responsibility as a defensive “jack of all trades”. And they have to be a leader and be vocal. And that’s Owen to a tee.

“I’ve been playing tackle football since the 3rd grade,” Owen explains. “And I’ve been at middle linebacker since 5th grade. I feel like I am mentally there more than anything else and I need to know all the plays and everyone’s responsibilities. I love playing my position and I love football so much!”

His passion for football shows as it seems he is in on almost every play.  He’s very vocal and quick to help another player and when mistakes are made he’s there to help correct his teammate in a very positive way.

“I honestly love being the leader of the defense,” Owen said. “It’s a good feeling helping other players and knowing they look up to you.”

Owen, who earned starting time as a Junior last season,  is coming off perhaps his most memorable game ever as he was able to read the quarterbacks eyes and defenses against Tecumseh last Friday and had 3 interceptions in the game along with several tackles.

“That was amazing for me,” Owen proudly stated. “It was something the defense has struggled with, getting turnovers this season. But what matters most is that we were able to come back after a tough loss (to Lincoln) and get the win and the defense shut them (Tecumseh) down.”

Owen, one of the Bulldogs top leaders in tackles,  will be playing basketball this year also. In the fall he works at the Dexter Cider Mill. He plans to go to college after he graduates whether it’s to play football or not. His passion is sports but he knows a higher education is good for him. And although his senior football season is 4 games in he knows there is a lot of football left to play and that’s where his focus is right now.

“We are a good team, “Owen stated. “I feel really good about this team and think we have a great shot at going far.”

Owen is the son of Craig and Sue Nikisher and has two brothers, Ryan and Zach.

 

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Chelsea’s Patrick Bertoni Locking The D Backfield Down

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When opposing quarterbacks line up against Chelsea, they look over the defense and look to see where number 17 is. And then they change up their play. Because Chelsea Defensive Back Patrick Bertoni plays the position like a pro. He covers well, he hits hard, he jumps routes, and he picks off passes.

Bertoni, who has been playing organized football since 7th grade,  had the rarity of starting every game for the 11-1 Bulldogs in 2016 and had 6 interceptions earning him honorable mention on the all SEC team. Quarterbacks learned right away not to throw his way and receivers would try to run away from him.

“I’m really excited for my senior season and I’m hoping to have an even better season this year,” Bertoni said.

Bertoni is very involved as he is participating in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), National Honor Society (NHS), Orchestra, student council, St. Mary youth group, and is a student liaison to the school board. He also starts on the Chelsea basketball varsity team.

“I like playing both sports (football and basketball) and I can’t decide which one I like better,” Bertoni states. “I’m a better person for playing them and I can’t say enough great things about the guys on my teams.”

When Bertoni does get the spare time he likes to spend it with those people that are close to him. He enjoys doing puzzles, going camping, and listening to music. He plans on attending the University of Michigan after he graduates.

“I would like to thank all my family, my teammates, and my coaches for helping me be the person I am today,” Bertoni said. “But most of all I’d like to thank God for all he has blessed me with.”

Patrick is the son of Rob and Sue Bertoni and he has an older brother Daniel, and two older sisters, Colleen and Kelly.

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Chelsea Reloads For 2017 Football Season

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Head Coach Brad Bush talks with his skill players during throwing scrimmage

It’s almost the end of summer and back to school for the kids and that brings with it football! With almost 8 million high school kids playing sports in the USA, the most popular by far is 11 player football, with over 1.1 million kids participating. It is what pulls people and communities together. It brings people of all different classes, gender, and races together. The future players watching the game in the stands or playing in a grassy spectator area, the former players coming out to cherish their memories and cheer for the gridiron warriors of their beloved alumni. The cheerleaders getting the crowd revved up by getting the defense chant going, the student section packed with screaming girls cheering for their boyfriends and classmates and holding signs, the band performing the fight song while the flag girls twirl their hardware in synchronicity. The smell of popcorn and hot beverages being brewed waft through the crisp fall air. And the crowd in all its glory decked out in their home teams colors, being as loud and proud as they can be. And nowhere is that more prevalent than the city of Chelsea.

The Bulldogs have a rich history of football. They are 2 years removed from playing in the state championship game at Ford Field and last year came up just a 2 point conversion short of winning Regionals. The Bulldogs have 1 AP State Championship, 22 SEC Conference championships, 9 perfect 9-0 seasons, 7 District Championships, and 1 Regional Championship. The Bulldogs have only missed the playoffs once this century. And they are looking to reload and win again with their local homegrown talent as they go for their fourth straight District title.

“The 2017 slogan for the Bulldogs is C9 because we are trying to develop leadership and camaraderie within each unit,” Head Coach Brad Bush stated. “If the 4 groups on Offense and Defense and special teams work together we could be a good team.”

And Bush definitely knows football as he enters his 21st season as Bulldogs Head Coach. The award winning coach played quarterback for the Cornell Big Red from 88-90 and was a part of thei  88 Ivy League Championship team. He has assembled a great group of coaches on his staff and they have remained intact for several years.

“I appreciate the loyalty and hard work of our staff every year,” says Bush. “We are very fortunate to remain mostly the same from the past few years.  There are a few position changes but mostly everything remains the same.”

One thing that does change every year is the players. The Bulldogs graduated seven players on offense who received SEC White all-conference honors and six on defense, but still are the early favorites to repeat as league champions. All State Quarterback Jack Bush has graduated and will begin his playing career at Hope College while defensive star Travis Frazier takes his size and strength to Ferris State University. This leaves many gaps to fill but the Bulldogs find a way.

“We have a large senior class (38 players) and 71 on the team,” said Bush. “I think we have a lot of guys that will contribute.  Our depth will be a great strength of the team.”
A few key players returning will be Thomas Steele stepping up in place of Jack Bush at the quarterback position. He has some big shoes to fill as Bush has placed himself firmly in the Bulldogs passing records finishing in the top 3 in every category. But Steele is as solid as his last name represents and is more than ready to compete, looking solid in practices and scrimmages this summer. Coming back for his senior year is Gus Reynolds at the running back position. Reynolds had a great junior season carrying the ball 157 times and reaching the end zone 16 times. Other key offensive returners are Jeret Hirst, Hunter Neff, and Rafe Reyes.
On the defensive side of the ball, Patrick Bertoni returns after a stellar season in the defensive backfield and has had an outstanding scrimmage and practice season. Ronnie Buford, the former quarterback from Ann Arbor, made the transition to defensive end just fine and had an excellent second half of the season in 2016, earning him an early scholarship to Western Michigan University. Braden Steele brings his speed and skill while James Mida brings his size and strength up front for the Bulldogs. It’s very apparent that senior Owen Nikischer has been hitting the weights as he is bigger and much stronger than last season and he has done a great job of taking command and helping the many underclassmen in training camp and instructing them. He will be doing his talking on the field with his hard hitting at his middle linebacker position again this season.
The Bulldogs have a very tough schedule playing some highly skilled teams and playing several teams that made the playoffs last season and a few teams that were just one game away from making it. They open up play on August 25th on the road against Milan then come home to face an old foe that has now rejoined their conference, the Pinckney Pirates. Both teams made the playoffs last year and return many outstanding players. The Bulldogs round out their schedule at home against a team they have never faced before, Alpena.
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Chelsea Wins District Championship

 

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Chelsea Bulldogs, 2017 Class B District Champs 

 

Just like their girl counterparts did a week to the day, the Chelsea boys basketball team entered hostile territory and were able to fight and scrap to a come from behind victory over Onsted, 57-45. Unlike the girls who played near Onsted, this game was on Onsted’s home court in front of a mostly purple and white laden crowd.

Both teams were evenly matched and came out strong and matched each other basket to basket. Just as the buzzer sounded before the half ended, Onsted hit a long 2 point shot to take a 29-27 lead going into the break.

The Bulldogs were not fazed as first-year Head Coach Mark Moundros gave his team a good talk at the half and made some great adjustments. Moundros was very strategic in his substitutions all night long, knowing who to match up with and when.

Chelsea came out strong in the third and took an early lead forcing lots of turnovers and crashing the boards at both ends of the court. Chelsea’s Ronnie Buford came through with some big offense and Chelsea never looked back as they kept increasing their lead. Chelsea held Onsted’s team to only two points in the third as they took a 5 point lead into the fourth.

With 4 minutes left to go Onsted’s star player and top scorer Skyler Lipinski picked up his 5th foul on the night and had to watch from the bench as Chelsea skillfully increased its lead. With his last shot of the night, it was Buford putting the exclamation point on the game with a huge slam dunk in front of the huge,  loyal Bulldog student section.

As the clock wound down to zero the Chelsea players cleared the bench and hugged one another & celebrated their district championship, their first in ten years.

“I’m proud of our seniors, they led us all year and they worked hard for this and I’m proud of them,” Chelsea’s coach Moundros stated as he watched his players celebrate and pose for pictures with the trophy.

“This is a great group of players and we worked incredibly hard this last year,” Matt Klink stated. “As a group, we have faced a lot of adversity but like tonight, we always managed to fight and win. This truly is a family.”

All SEC selection Ryan Mitchel who finished the night with 9 points, 5 rebounds, and several steals was just speechless after the game. “I don’t know what to say, I’ve wanted this since I started playing, it’s a heck of a team.”

“All the way back to last year, I remember our first tournament, I thought nothing could top that, but this honestly has me speechless, coming back from last year, to this, we wanted this more than ever and I’m glad I got to get this w with my boys,” Bryce Jubenville said.

“5 of us got pulled up our sophomore year,” said Al Vazquez. “It’s a great group of guys, this feels pretty good, we worked together and it paid off.”

“This was a great team win, we were down 10 early and we knew that we had to wear them out because their bench was a lot thinner than ours,” Jack Bush stated. “We have 10 guys that we rotate and we did just a great job sticking together and not giving up to compete and finish that game.”

“I’d like to thank the community for all its support,” Ben Kaemming, who hit a couple big 3 point shots, said. “As the senior class, the program was not where we wanted it to be as freshman, but we’ve really turned it around, getting our first district championship in ten years.”

“We came into this team our first year 3-17 but we worked it out and trusted the system year in and year out,” a happy Brady Friss stated. “10 years but we got the district title.”

“It’s so great to be on this team,” an elated Ronnie Buford exclaimed. “To come back and beat Adrian who beat us last year, and this, Onsted is a tough team, we started a bit slow but came back strong in the second half. When Ben (Kaemming) hit the 3 to tie the game up, that was the turning point to me, that was a great 3 in the corner, great leadership by Ben.”  Buford led the Bulldogs with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

Chelsea gets the weekend to rest up then travels to Milan to take on River Rouge Monday at 5:30 P.M.

 

 

 

 

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Chelsea Fights Back Valiantly, Loses Heartbreaker In Regionals

 

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Chelsea Sophomore Helena Schultz goes up for a late basket

 

The  Chelsea Bulldogs played host to the Dearborn Henry Ford Academy Navigators tonight and it was apparent from the opening tip-off that the Bulldogs would be behind the 8 ball all night. In what was a very poorly, one sided officiated game, the Bulldogs were able to try to overcome it and came back and fought until the very end but came up just short in a heart wrenching 40-35 defeat.

The Bulldogs fell behind early and every time they had a chance to get back in the game a whistle would come out of nowhere. Girls were getting slammed to the floor and no calls were being made.

“I’ve been watching basketball all my life & this is the worst reffing I’ve ever seen,” an older gentleman stated. “If you lose fine, get beat by a better team, fine. But to get beat by the refs? I’m disgusted!”

In spite of being down, but never out, the young Bulldog team did what it has done all year and overcome adversity. Down by as many as 15 points at one time, the Bulldogs fought and clawed their way back into it, playing a tight defense and forcing many turnovers.  Brianna Hay hit a big 3 pointer in the game to pull the gap closer, and Jesse Jacobusse helped out with 6 steals on the night. With time running out the Bulldogs went on a run causing Dearborn and their fans to get a bit nervous as the raucous Chelsea crowd and student section roared with approval.

Helena Schultz hit a shot at the buzzer but it wasn’t enough as the Bulldogs came up just a bit short. Senior Nicole Bareis played another great game as she almost double-doubled again this season, finishing with 7 points and 9 rebounds, and 3 steals. Helena Schultz led all Bulldog scorers with 10 points. Madeleine Kennedy played a strong defensive game with 4 steals and 6 rebounds to go along her her 2 points.

Chelsea Head Coach Todd Blomquist credited his four seniors (Bareis, Jacobusse, Kylie Kuebler, and Sara Stribe) helping to guide his sophomores for a successful season. The team is very young (5 sophomores & a freshman) but still managed a 10-game winning streak entering tonight’s game.

“It was a fantastic season,” Blomquist said. “Our mantra was to grow, and we did that.”

“And I can’t say enough about our seniors, who really bridged the gap between two groups. They had a really good group the last couple of years, and a young group this year. There is no question that they were a big reason why we were successful.”

The Bulldogs finished the season with an  18-6 record and will definitely reload for next season as they bring back plenty of players who now have valuable playoff experience.

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Chelsea Girls Win District Title, Head to Regionals

 

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Chelsea Bulldogs 2017 Class B District Champions

 

The Chelsea Bulldogs girls basketball team took on a very tough Onsted Wildcats team tonight in the District Finals at Columbia Central High School and it was a rough first half for the Bulldogs. Amid some questionable calls, their shots weren’t falling and they just couldn’t get their strong inside game going. But after a good halftime speech from Head Coach Todd Blomquist, they came out in the third on fire, and never looked back on their way to a huge 49-35 victory.

“I’m so excited, I almost cried,” an elated Jesse Jacobusse said. “I think we played pretty bad in the first half but the turning point was the third quarter. But we got rolling and I’m just so happy. This is one of the happiest moments of my life.”

The Bulldogs looked a bit nervous in the first quarter against the evenly matched Wildcats. The Bulldogs tight defense kept them in the game though as they forced a lot of turnovers. In the second as the Wildcats started to slowly creep ahead, Jacobusse finally got a shot to fall and it was a big one as she hit a long 3 to close the gap. The Wildcats went into the halftime break up by 1 and very confident, backed by a large, boisterous crowd.

“I was a bit disappointed with the play in the first half,” Chelsea Coach Blomquist stated. “But the defense kept us in it. We knew what Onsted was going to do but I don’t think we reacted very well. The turning point for us was right off the bat in the third when we got our inside game going and got some good shots to take the lead.”

In the beginning of the third period, Brianna Hay got the go-ahead basket off a steal and the defense stepped up strong forcing bad shots and turnovers. Hay had 3 steals on the night along with Jacobusse to lead the Bulldogs. Sophomore Maddie Vasquez was exceptional in the paint who, along with fellow sophomore Madeleine Kennedy, were able to use their size to build on the Bulldogs lead. The nail in the coffin for Onsted was when Jacobusse hit a long distance bank shot for three as the buzzer sounded giving the Bulldogs an 8 point lead at the end of the third.

In the fourth, the small in number but large in spirit Chelsea faithful kept cheering their girls on knowing that the outcome was evident as the clock ticked closer and closer to a Chelsea victory. Onsted was forced to foul sending the Bulldogs to the line where they made them pay. With time running out Coach Blomquist subbed in Sara Stribe and Kylie Kuebler so he had all 4 of his seniors on the court. As the clock counted down to zero the Chelsea bench erupted with joy as the young team accomplished something many pundits had said could never happen.

“I’m beyond words, I can’t even explain it, we’ve worked so hard to get this and it feels so good,” an ecstatic Nicole Bareis happily exclaimed, with tears almost in her eyes. “Coach told us at half-time we had to pick up our offense and we did. It really turned around. We scouted their team and we were pretty confident but they’re a great team. I think we were a bit nervous in the first period.”

“This is our 10th district title since 2000 when  I started,” said the veteran coach Blomquist. “Every team is different, we’re a very young team, and this is great.”

The young team stepped up big as Vasquez had 3 points but was big on the boards with 7 rebounds and had 3 blocked shots. Hay and Jacobusse finished with 10 points while Bareis got a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

“I have never been on a team that is so close,” Bareis said. “I would not trade this team for anything, I love them all!”

“My team, I love my team soooo much,” Jacobusse said making sure to stress the so. “To share this moment like this, it’s never good unless it’s with the right people and it’s definitely the right people. ”

Chelsea will look to keep their 10 game winning streak going as the Regionals head home for them on Tuesday where they will take on  Dearborn Henry Ford who defeated Grosse Isle in their final game tonight. Game time is 5:30 at the Chelsea High School Gym.

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Chelsea Girls Advance to District Finals

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Chelsea’s Katelyn McKinley splits the Eagles defense for a shot

After a tough outing Monday night, the Chelsea Bulldogs came out strong tonight against the Columbia Central Eagles starting the game with a 13-1 run en route to a big 41-24 victory advancing them to the Class B District Finals.

Chelsea’s Jesse Jacobusse celebrated her 18th birthday by leading her team in scoring with 14. She also had 3 assist, 2 steals, and 5 rebounds.

“I’m very excited,” the birthday girl Jacobusse said happily. “Monday’s game, we were very nervous, but tonight we played with more confidence. Our defense was very solid. That was the major difference in the games.”

The Bulldogs came out on fire, rolling to an early lead the Eagles could never come back from. The Bulldogs were solid all over the court and played a very stifling defense forcing errant passes and turnovers.”

“I thought our defense was definitely the big factor in tonight’s game,” Chelsea head coach Todd Blomquist stated. “We played much better tonight and I’m real happy for the girls.”

Blomquist is trying to win his 10th district final in his 18th year of coaching. If Chelsea wins Friday evening then they head to their home court to host regionals. In a very classy move near the end of the game, he emptied the bench and gave everyone a chance to play.

“I’ve been a part of a district final but I was just a sophomore so I didn’t get a chance to play,” Jacobusse said. “I feel really good to be a part of this and am hoping we can do it, it will be a great thing for us and for me to be a part of it.”

The Eagles came close to getting back in the game in the second half but too many turnovers and Chelsea’s speed was hard to contend with. Nicole Bareis finished the night in a great defensive effort for the Bulldogs with 8 rebounds and 3 steals while Madeleine Kennedy had a steal and had two big blocked shots. Helena Schultz finished with 8 while freshman Riley Davis earned lots of playing time by sinking 2 big 3 point shots finishing with 8 total on the night and 6 rebounds.

Chelsea will face Onsted in Brooklyn at 7:00 p.m. in the finals.

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