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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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Chelsea To Promote 1991 Championship Baseball Team With Heart For The Game Movie

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Chelsea’s 1991 Championship Baseball Team (Photo by Brian Hamilton)

According to fans around the state, Chelsea’s 1991 baseball team is the greatest team in Michigan prep sports history! Earlier this year Mlive had a fan vote and the Bulldogs team came in first overwhelmingly with 40,500 votes, almost 37% of all votes. And now they are being honored with a locally produced feature film called “Heart for the Game”.

Their feature premiere will be a red carpet gala event at the Chelsea High School Auditorium (740 North Freer Road) on Saturday, August 19th from 7-9 P.M. The family friendly event is free and is intended to bring the community together to celebrate the events of athletics, past and present. Donations will be accepted at the door with 100% of the proceeds going to the Chelsea Athletic Boosters and will be earmarked for their project to construct new athletic display cases near the gymnasium.

The movie is a Video Farm documentary directed by Robert Coelius and produced by Kerry and Theresa Plank. It is a ’30 for 30’ style full-length feature documenting the 1991 State Championship baseball team. Key participants and witnesses recall the events of a unique and historic baseball team 25 years later. The team overcame adversity on and off the field and won 11 of 33 games when tied or losing in the final at-bat. The team beat the #1, #4, and #2 teams in succession and won the championship game in dramatic come-from-behind fashion.

Appearing in the film are local Chelsea icons, Craig Common (Owner and Chef of the Common Grill), Jeff Daniels (Actor who has appeared in many movies including Blood Work with Clint Eastwood and Pleasantville and also the founder of the Purple Rose Theatre in Chelsea), Howdy Holmes (President and CEO of Jiffy Mix in Chelsea and former Indy driver), and Chelsea Mayor Jason Lindauer to name a few. 

The Bulldogs a had a knack for making late-game comebacks in that miraculous season. Of the team’s 33 victories in 1991, 13 were in the Bulldogs’ last at-bat, including the Class B state championship game.

Midland Bullock Creek scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 5-3 lead, but Chelsea rallied for three runs in the bottom of the inning. It was the team’s 20th-straight win after beginning the season 13-3.

The Bulldogs had several players move on to play at the next level, led by catcher Adam Taylor, who played at the University of New Mexico before playing three years in the minor leagues, reaching the double-A level.

Pitcher Jake Rindle played at Michigan State and Central Michigan, while Rob Clem moved on to play at Hillsdale College. The pitching duo combined to go 22-1 for the Bulldogs in 1991.

“It was such a great group of guys,” Chelsea coach Wayne Welton said. “We had a 25-year anniversary get-together at my house last summer, and we probably could have gone out and played somebody and won in our last at-bat that day, too. It was such a fun group. I love those guys.”

Key Participants in the film are Welton (former Chelsea baseball coach and former athletic Director), Todd Starkey (1988 CHS Graduate and former coach), and 1991 CHS Graduates Kerry Plank, Tucker Steele, Jude Quilter, Jeremy Stephens, Rick Westcott, Rob Clem, and Craig Ferry. Also featured are 1990 Chelsea graduates Adam Taylor (current Chelsea coach), Ben Hurst, Jake Rindle, Rob Jaques, Jason Adams, and 2001 graduate Molly Welton-Boyle.

The documentary trailer can be found at Chelsea Heart For The Game Movie Trailer

Also for information or to RSVP you can go to: https://www.facebook.com/events/444311302593205?__mref=mb

As of this writing, there are approximately 300 RSVP’s thus far.

 

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The 1991 State Champions at their 25th reunion

 

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Chelsea’s Ronnie Buford Announces College Commitment

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Chelsea Bulldog Ronnie Buford picks off a pass in his junior season

The Chelsea High School football team has produced yet another great young athlete to commit to a Division 1 college as Junior Ronnie Buford announced that he has officially committed to Western Michigan University (WMU) to continue his football career.

Ronnie has committed to the Broncos as a defensive end, where he excelled for the 11-1 Bulldogs team in 2016. The 6 foot 4 inch Buford also excels on the basketball court where he and his Bulldog teammates won the Districts in their division last season.  Buford moved recently to Chelsea from Ann Arbor where he was the starting quarterback for Skyline, but he was moved to defensive end for the Bulldogs where they could take advantage of his size and speed.

“The adjustment from offense to defense wasn’t a real big deal to me,” Ronnie stated. “It was a smooth transition because I understood both offensive and defensive schemes and learned quickly what my coaches were teaching me.”

Many colleges noticed Ronnie’s play in his first year on defense and were interested in him and he and his family visited many of them to get a feel for the community and check out the academics to see if the fit was right for him. Ronnie took his time and with the help of his loving family, friends, and coaches finally decided on his gridiron home for the 2018 season.

“The decision was hard, yet easy. We went to many places but when we went to WMU I just knew I wanted to be a Bronco after the first unofficial visit,” Ronnie stated. “As soon as I stepped foot on the Bronco’s football field,  I just had this feeling that I had at no other visit! It was a confirmation feeling like I belonged there.”

Ronnie also gives much credit to the WMU coaches for making him and his family feel comfortable on their visit.

“They treated me and my family so nice,” Ronnie said. “They were extremely good to my little brother and I could tell this was a great, solid family organization like Chelsea football is. And that’s what I’m all about, family.”

Ronnie plans to major in Business and get a minor in civil engineering while enjoying all the community of Kalamazoo and WMU have to offer. Ronnie is the son of Willie Buford, and Shallis and Laura Mask.

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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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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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Chelsea Lacrosse Stomps Huron River Rats 19-2

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Chelsea’s Nick Childress (no. 26) scores for his Bulldogs

Temperatures were brisk on Friday night at Jerry Niehaus football field in Chelsea as the Bulldog lacrosse team looked to snap a 4 game losing streak against the Ann Arbor River Rats. In the 4 game losing streak, Chelsea was up against some state-ranked competition and it was a rough stretch of their schedule and goals were hard to come by.

Looking to get back on track, it looked a bit grim in the beginning as Huron jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead. But Chelsea Head Coach Joe Koengeter called his boys over and gave them a pep talk and whatever he said worked because the Bulldogs caught fire quick as Doug Zarinnia got the Bulldogs on the board. Two quick goals by Cam Breining And Mikal Nelson put the Bulldogs ahead for good.

The Bulldogs opened it up and took a big 10-2 lead at the half. In the second half, it was more of the same as Senior netminder Josh Ciaccio stopped everything that was thrown his way with the help of his stingy defense. In the 4th quarter, a midi stayed back as Ciaccio took the ball all the way down the field and was able to get a shot off on goal, just slightly missing the net.

“It was the first time I’ve ever been able to do that,” said a thrilled Ciaccio. “It was exciting, I really wanted to get a goal. But I’m happy with the big win for the team and I hope I get to do that again someday.”

The Bulldogs were led in scoring by senior Nate Bero with a hat trick. Breining, Nelson, and Aidan Boote each chipped in 2 goals apiece. The Bulldogs will look for another goal fest in their favor Monday night as they play host to the Lincoln.

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