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Chelsea Football Has New Gunslinger In Town

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Chelsea’s Thomas Steele prepares to throw a pass in a scrimmage  

Chelsea High School has had its fair share of great quarterbacks over the years including Cameron Hawkins, George Royce, Chris Brigham, and last years All State selection Jack Bush. All hold their places firmly in the record books.  Looking to add his name to that select group of Chelsea all time greats this year is Thomas Steele.

Steele will be set up behind center this season and is looking forward to it and will be following a legacy of Steeles who quarterbacked the Bulldogs, his father Tucker on the 1990 team and his Uncle Pat on the 1993 team. Steele has a team first mentality and a winning attitude.  Steele has been playing football competitively since he was in the 7th grade and he likes to compete and win in any sport he plays, whether it’s ice hockey or baseball. And his most favorite sport is the one he is playing at any given time.

“It’s an honor to follow in the footsteps of my dad and uncle,” says Steele. “It’s a great tradition I’m proud to be a part of.”

Steele brings skill, intelligence, and leadership to any sport he plays. He puts in lots of time on the field receiving instructions from his Head Coach Brad Bush and his other coaches while trying to help lead some of the younger less experienced players. The Bulldogs are coming off two spectacular seasons including playing in the 2015 State Championship game at Ford Field in Detroit. Steele feels the team can build on that and keep moving forward.

“I really believe that our success as a team will depend on the amount of time and hard work each one of us puts in,” stated Steele.

When Steele isn’t on the field he is hunting, fishing, or spending time with his family. His family is very important to him and although this will be his last year playing sports for Chelsea, he is really looking forward to it and the opportunities it brings.

“It’s my last year which is kind of sad but I’m really happy about going on the field and getting to play out there and compete with my little brother Garrett,” said Steele. “Also, my cousin Braden is on the team so this will be a really extra special season.”

Steele works for the family business when not competing in sports, Steele Heating And Cooling of Chelsea. He also works at the Dexter Cider Mill. He is unsure of his future plans but that may change depending on how his sports seasons go. Thomas is the son of Tucker and Gretchen Steele and has 3 siblings, Savannah, Garrett, and Caden.

The Bulldogs open the season August 25th at Milan.

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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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Jackson High School to join SEC White starting in 2018-19 school year

Jackson High School has been seeking a new athletic conference to join, and it now has one. The Jackson School Board voted unanimously to approve the switch from the Capital Area Activites Conference (CAAC) to the Southeastern Conference White Divison for all Jackson High sports teams beginning in the 2018-19 school year.

The SEC White, a six-school league in 2016-17, will add Pinckney to the conference for the 2017-18 year before Jackson makes it an eight-team league the following season.  Jackson’s enrollment of 1,246 would make it the third-largest school in the SEC White. In addition to newcomer Pinckney (1,279), the SEC White includes Adrian (794), Chelsea (867), Dexter (1,146), Tecumseh (832), Ypsilanti (1,115) and Ypsilanti Lincoln (1,404).

The Red Division includes Ann Arbor Huron (1,589), Ann Arbor Pioneer (2,055), Ann Arbor Skyline (1,752), Monroe (2,046), Saline (1,923) and Temperance Bedford (1,597). There are no plans for expanding the SEC Red.

The CAAC consists of eight teams, seven of which are considered Lansing area. The SEC White will have eight teams, each of which has its own geographic region.

“Each school (in the SEC) has its own sense of community,” Jackson High Athletic Director Jack Fairly said earlier this month. “The CAAC has been good to us, but being from the Jackson area, we’re down here by ourselves. Teams in (the SEC) all have their own community, whereas the CAAC was really a greater-Lansing conference and then us.”

Joining a conference that didn’t increase travel was also an important dynamic. The distance between Jackson and every school in the SEC White ranges from 26-51 miles while the distance between Jackson and the CAAC schools ranged from 32-49 miles. Additionally, the annual SEC league fee is $700, compared to $3,125 in the CAAC.

Starting this fall in 2017 Pinckney comes back to the SEC after it left in to join the Kensington Lakes Activities Association (KLAA) in 2000. The Pirates held rivalries with Dexter and Chelsea, as well as Tecumseh, still playing an annual basketball game with the Dreadnaughts.

Pinckney was looking for a good conference fit and as their enrollment falls they will be on pace with several of the other schools in the SEC White.
 “We’re joining a conference where schools have some of the strongest programs in the state,” Pinckney Athletic Director Brian Wardlow said. “But it does allow us to get back into a more level playing field and against some of our neighbors. This seemed like a natural fit, even on more levels than athletics.”
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Chelsea Student-Athletes Make History

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Senior Jack Bush poses with the Chelsea basketball district championship trophy

Chelsea High School is known for its academics. It was recently listed by the U.S. News as the 7th ranked school in the state of Michigan, the only public school to crack the top 10. That’s an excellent ranking since there are over 1,500 high schools in Michigan. Nationally it was listed number 554 out of almost 40,000 high schools! The student body of Chelsea have a 56% ranking in Advanced Placement classes and have very high test scores. Not too shabby for a town of just over 5,000 people.

But academics isn’t all Chelsea is about. They put a good focus on athletics and encourage all students to participate and many of the students will play more than 1 sport. The athletic department is strong and solid and many students go on to earn sports scholarships for Division 1 schools,  and some even have gone on to play professional sports.

This year, a few students have done something that hasn’t been done in quite a while and is very rare for most student athletes. Jack Bush, Hunter Neff, Quinn Starkey, Thomas Steele, and Alex Vasquez have all etched their names in the Chelsea record books as they are among the few student-athletes in the long history of Chelsea sports that have won 3 district championships in one year!

Bush was the starting quarterback for Chelsea the past couple seasons and was a key element of leading the Bulldogs to the MHSAA Class B state championship in 2015. He also started for the basketball team and this year’s baseball team which just clinched a district title last Saturday. Bush will attend Hope College in the fall where he will look to carry on his illustrious football career.

Neff was a part of this years football, and baseball team, and was called up for the districts in basketball.

Starkey played on the basketball team, the baseball team, and was called up for the Districts in football.

Steele was the Bulldogs leading rusher in football last season as well as winning a district championship with the Bulldogs hockey team. He also will be on the field looking for a regional title in baseball, after sealing up a district championship last weekend.

Vasquez starred at end for the Bulldogs football team this past season and was also a part of the state championship runner-ups in 2015. He used his size and strength to help the Bulldogs win districts not only on the gridiron, but on the basketball court, and for this year’s baseball team. Vasquez will be taking his talents to Michigan State University in the fall.

The Bulldogs baseball team will head to Carleton-Airport on June 10th where they will be taking on the South Lyon East Cougars and will be looking to win the regional playoff and help bring more hardware to Chelsea, the city of champions.

 

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Jackson Christian Soccer Devastates Hillsdale 9-3

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Jackson Christian Junior Audrey McCollum moves the ball upfield against Hillsdale

On the last night of the season, the Jackson Christian Royals went out in style as they scored early and often guiding themselves to a big 9-3 victory over Hillsdale to end the season on a winning note. It was a great way to send the 6 senior players on the team out.

Senior Mary Hawthorne got the scoring started 12 minutes into the first half. Senior Sierra Chevalier put the ball into the back of the net and then Junior Audrey McCollum to give the Royals a big 3-1 lead going into halftime.

At the halftime, the Royals honored those seniors playing in their last High School soccer game ever. Also honored were two boys for their dedication in their spring sports.

After the brief, but beautiful ceremony, the girls got back to the scoring again as only 2 minutes into the second half Hawthorne scored her second on the night. 20 seconds later Hillsdale cut the Royals lead in half as Emily Wright got one by the Royals goalkeeper. Chevalier took over after that scoring 2 more goals in just 16 seconds for the hat trick and a Jackson Christian record for fastest 2 goals ever scored in a game!

Haley Hands then scored for the Royals and McCollum netted her second of the evening to build a huge 8-2 lead. Hillsdale never gave up and kept on battling as Kathy Tempa was able to score. Sam Hershberger put the icing on the cake to give the Royals a 9-3 lead with 4 minutes left with her first goal of the season.

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Chelsea Lacrosse Shines On Senior Night

 

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Chelsea’s Nic Brough gets air trying to defend a pass 

 

On a beautiful, sunny evening at Jack Niehaus Football Stadium, the Chelsea Bulldog Lacrosse team donned their golden warrior helmets and prepared to face off against the Grosse Ile Red Devils. Scoring came early and often for the Bulldogs as they battled to a huge 17-1 victory.

Barely a minute in it was Senior Mikal Nelson who got the scoring started for the Bulldogs. A minute and a half later Sophomore Cam Breining took advantage of a miscue by the Devils goalie and easily blasted the ball into the net. The devil’s goalie had tried to play the body on Breining and when he did, he fell awkwardly to the ground injuring himself and had to leave the game. He had torn an acl earlier in the season and sat the rest of the game out with an ice bag on his leg.

Breining would go on to score the next 3 goals for Chelsea and would finish with 4 on the night with 1 assist. Nelson scored two more giving him the hat trick on the night while Senior Nate Bero picked up a hat trick also, giving props to his dad Jeff who was up in the press box on his third goal.

The Bulldogs cruised to a 10-0 halftime lead and at the half, they honored the 7 senior players who have helped make the team a success over the years. Nate Bero, Ryan Berry, Nick Childress, Josh Ciaccio, Aidan Kurth, Mikal Nelson, and Nick Whitesall were all honored as the walked down the 50-yard line with their parents and received gifts from the team in recognition of all they do and have done for the team. It was a very nice yet emotional ceremony for many of the parents and the players as they realize the end of their High School career is almost over but each player will move on to other things, many attending college while Whitesall has already committed to his country as he will be joining one of the finest fighting forces America has to offer, the United States Marine Corps.

After the ceremony, the players got right back down to business never losing focus as they wanted to defend their field and give netminder Josh Ciaccio another shot at a shutout. Spencer Gobba scored two quick goals off excellent cross field Doug Zarinnia passes to separate the score even more. Zarinnia would finish with 6 helpers on the night.

Sophomore Riley Sumner would chip in two late goals along with fellow sophomore Zach Cooley who picked up a goal late unassisted. Ryan Berry finished the scoring on the night for the Bulldogs off an Evan Kucera assist.

The lone bright spot for the Devils was when they broke up the shutout with about two minutes left to go on the night.

“It’s ok, it happens,” a very happy netminder Josh Ciaccio said after the game. “I’m just glad we won and I’m very happy, I’ve had two shutouts before so it’s all good.”

Chelsea will return home Friday night to take on Ann Arbor Pioneer in the last home game of the season.

 

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Senior Ryan Berry

 

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Busy Week For Chelsea Softball

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The Chelsea Bulldogs were kept busy the past week playing a total of 7 games in less than 5 games and came away with 4 wins.

On Tuesday they traveled to Ann Arbor Huron where they took out the River Rats in a series sweep, with 12-2 and 15-5 victories. Peighton Root won on the mound in the first game helping her own cause out with a grand slam homerun in the 4th inning. Sydney Hines had 3 hits for Chelsea, while Olivia Leonard, Sydnee Liedel, and Hannah Kahler each had two hits apiece for the Bulldogs.

In Game 2 it was Maddie Kemp pitching a 7 strikeout game while Hines led her team in offense with 4 hits, while Root, Alise Hale, Madison Adkins, and Kahler each chipped in with 2 big hits of their own.

Less than 24 hours later the Bulldogs hit the bus and took the road again to face a very tough Monroe team at Vince Rossi field. Hits were hard to come by as Olivia Leonard got the only one of the first game, a single in the third inning, to break up Monroe’s no-hitter as the Bulldogs fell 10-0.

Monroe took an early 2-0 lead in the second inning of game 1 but the Bulldogs rallied strongly in the top of the third with hits by Hines, Kahler, and Sara Stribe to build a 4-2 lead. Stribe scored again in the 4th inning after reaching base on an error and the Bulldogs looked to have the game in hand until the bottom of the 6th inning when the Trojans roared back for 5 big runs to take an 8-5 lead and that’s how the game would finish.

On Saturday, the Bulldogs hosted a round robin 3 team tournament for the third time this season and opened up against Plymouth Salem. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning behind back to back doubles by Root and Hale. Salem came back and tied it up in the fourth inning but the Bulldogs regained the lead in the 6th behind hits by Stribe, Hale, and Hines and a perfectly executed bunt by Kahler. But Salem would regain the lead and not relinquish it as they jumped all over the Bulldogs in the 7th inning for 7 runs and came out with an 11-6 victory.

In game 2 on the day, the Bulldogs took down Gibraltar Carlson 13-3 behind Root coming up just a home run short of hitting for the cycle and taking advantage of several walks and errors committed by the Marauders.

In the final game of the day, the Bulldogs squared off against Olivet. Olivet started out strong as their first batter put one out of the park to stake the Eagles to a 1-0 lead. The Bulldogs were able to fight back and take a 4-1 lead behind some solid pitching by Root who kept the Eagles off the scoreboard again until the 5th inning but the Bulldogs were able to extend their lead and build on it finishing with a well deserved and hard fought 7-2 victory. Hines, Root, and Hale all had two hits apiece for the Bulldogs.

Chelsea has 14 wins against 6 losses this season and will travel to Lincoln Monday to play a doubleheader with the Railsplitters.

 

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