by Graham Sturgeon, co-editor

   Note: Be sure to read the Annual High School Football Special Section published by the Independent Newsgroup this weekend. The section is available at

The first week of the 2016 football season is in the books, and Shiawassee County teams made quite the impression. Seven of our area teams won their opening games, with Corunna, Durand, Byron, Laingsburg, Morrice, Chesaning, and New Lothrop all taking care of business. Owosso ran into a buzz saw against Corunna, Perry lost a tough battle against Laingsburg, and Ovid-Elsie lost its annual opening week matchup against Portland. Last week’s games featured some surprises and some tight contests, and all three new coaches started off on the right foot with wins.

One of the best stories of opening week was Durand’s 21-19 win over Bath. The Railroaders had not won on the field since Oct. of 2013 against Perry, so the team took a big step forward with the road win, which came in the first game under coach Jason Gray.

Durand’s wing-T offense was effective against Bath, and was led by fullback David Baker, who carried 21 times for 112 yards and a touchdown. Running back Remi Wurtz also scored a rushing touchdown, and had 78 yards on 14 carries. The Railroaders’ third touchdown came on a 27-yard connection from Zach Harris to Austin Gutierrez. Wurtz was the leading tackler from his linebacker position, with 12, and defensive end Matt Rexin added 11 tackles and one sack.

The Railroaders played at Genesee in Week 2.

New Lothrop opened its season with a win, as is usually the case, beating Saginaw Nouvel Catholic 33-6 on the road. New Lothrop, a Division 7 playoff semifinalist in 2015, has not lost a regular season game since 2009, and despite opening on the road against a talented 2015 playoff team in Nouvel, the Hornets won decisively.

Erik Birchmeier, the Hornets’ star quarterback, opened the season on a roll, completing 19 of 22 passes for 238 yards and three touchdowns, along with 96 yards and a touchdown on 13 rushes. Aaron Zell, Mason Ruddy, and Ben Bigelow each caught touchdowns from Birchmeier, and Brayden Bitterman led the team in receptions with five.

The Hornets dominated in time of possession, by a 31 minute to 17 minute margin, but the team also showcased its quick-strike ability. Zell’s third quarter touchdown covered 86 yards, and Ruddy opened the second half with an 81-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

On the defensive side of the ball, Joey Quaderer had six tackles, with Ryley Hafner, Max Wendling, and Ben Bigelow all adding four apiece. Tyler Ruddy made the game’s only interception from his defensive back position for New Lothrop.

The Hornets travelled to Burton Bentley for its Week 2 game. New Lothrop won the 2015 matchup 62-6.

Laingsburg and Perry played in Week 1, with Laingsburg coming out on top, 20-0, despite being out gained by the Ramblers, 225 yards to 197, and 145 to 48 on the ground. The Wolfpack’s passing game was on point, as quarterback Nick Putnam put up 149 yards with three touchdowns. Lucas Fraidenburg was his favorite target, and the two got together four times for 66 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown in the third quarter. Nate Mentus scored a 56-yard

touchdown in the third quarter, and Jake Raleigh opened the scoring in the second quarter with a 20-yard touchdown from Putnam.

Fraidenburg also starred on the defensive side of the ball, leading Laingsburg with 10.5 tackles. Hunter Black chipped in with 7.5 tackles, and Derek Razor and Braden Ellis each had five tackles.

The team played at Fulton in Week 2.

Corunna and Owosso opened the season together for the second consecutive year, and Corunna again put the screws to its cross-town rival with a 47-6 victory. The game was close through one quarter, with Corunna up only 6-0, but the Cavaliers exploded for 28 points in the second quarter. Corunna exerted its will with four touchdowns of more than 50 yards during the quarter, included an 83-yard touchdown run by David Dumond, a 59-yard passing touchdown from Jerod Fattal to Demond, a 65-yard rushing touchdown by Jaron VanFleteren, and a 68-yard touchdown run by Owen Walter.

Corunna displayed a balanced offensive attack in Week 1, with Fattal throwing for 168 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 46 yards and a touchdown, as Corunna ground the Trojans down with 421 yards on the ground. Walter led the rushing attack with 112 yards on eight carries, Dumond and VanFleteren contributed 76 and 65 yards, respectively. Dumond added 76 receiving yards to total 174 offensive yards for the game on only six touches.

Corunna played Swartz Creek at home in Week 2, while Owosso tried to turn things around against Ionia.

Ovid-Elsie opened the 2016 season with a 43-13 loss to Portland, in what was the 51st consecutive season the two teams have played in Week 1. Unfortunately for Ovid-Elsie, this year’s result was not much different from recent years. Portland was 10-1 in 2015, and the Red Raiders look pretty strong again this year. The good news for Ovid-Elsie is that a loss to Portland does not spell doom for the team’s season. The Marauders only lost two other games in 2015 after opening with a loss against Portland, and there is no reason this year’s team can’t continue the school’s three-year playoff streak.

Ovid-Elsie could not gain any traction on the ground against Portland, but the team was able to find some success through the air. Gage Palus and Jericho Herblet took turns throwing the ball for the Marauders, with Palus completing six of nine passes for 82 yards, and Herblet completing seven of 11 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown. Bryce Dolan had four catches for 78 yards and a touchdown, Carson Vincent added 39 yards on three receptions, and Wes Houska contributed four catches for 32 yards.

The Marauders hosted Pinconning in Week 2.

Morrice beat Dryden at home to open its 2016 season, its third as a member of the Central Michigan 8-man Football Conference. The Orioles hosted Lawrence in Week 2.

Chesaning got its first win under coach John Mimranek, as the Indians beat

St. Charles on the road 26-7 to open the 2016 season. Chesaning played Freeland at home in Week 2, a team that beat the Indians 52-14 in 2015.

In another feel-good Week 1 story, Byron beat Montrose 29-27 to get a little piece of revenge after the Rams knocked the Eagles out of the 2015 playoffs in the opening round. Coach Byron Schartzer got his first win in his first game at the helm, and his team got another shot at revenge in Week 2 with a matchup against Flint Hamady, which beat Byron 36-28 in 2015.

Week 1 Football Wrap was last modified: September 6th, 2016 by Karen Elford