(File photo) USA RB/DB Tanner Foley (with ball).

USA gets plenty of hardware in TSA voting

(File photo)  USA RB/DB Tanner Foley (with ball).
(File photo)
USA RB/DB Tanner Foley (with ball).

SEBEWAING — Thumb area football teams didn’t get a lot of love this fall from the Associated Press.

But the immense local talent didn’t go unnoticed by the Thumb Sportswriters Association.

The Unionville-Sebewaing Area football team, just two years removed from a dismal 1-8 season, nabbed three awards — Coach of the Year, Offensive Lineman of the Year and Player of the Year — to highlight the 2016 edition of the TSA Fall Sports Awards.

Thanks to his knack for performing in the clutch, and the big numbers he put up on both sides of the football, the Patriots’ Tanner Foley has been named 11-Man Football Player of the Year. Teammate Cody Finkbeiner, a 6-foot-2, 285-pound blocking machine is the Offensive Lineman of the Year and USA coach Tyler Langs, who has improved the Patriots’ record from 1-8 in 2014, to 5-5 last year, to 9-2 this fall, is the TSA Coach of the Year.

In other voting, despite missing the first four games of the season to injury, Millington linebacker Jared Roehl earned Thumb Defensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row.

Ubly, which won the Greater Thumb East and finished the regular season with a 9-0 record and No. 4 Division 7 ranking, before advancing to the state semifinals, was named Thumb 11-Man Team of the Year. The Bearcats, which finished the season at 12-1, were a near-unanimous selection for top team with 28 points, followed by Millington (20) and USA (6).

The Patriots finished the year with a Greater Thumb West championship and No. 7 ranking in Division 7 while Millington advanced to the Division 6 semifinals. The Cardinals, ended the year with an 11-2 record and No. 3 ranking.

Despite Ubly, Millington and USA dominating at the local level — and making lots of noise state-wide — the three teams combined to place just one player on an AP all-state team. No players from USA, Ubly or Millington were named to a first team, or a second team. Cardinals’ quarterback Bryce Bearss, who is a first-team all-Thumb selection, was named honorable mention on the AP Division 5/6 team.

But a lack of respect from the state press is why the TSA was formed in the mid-2000s. The TSA consists of representatives from The Advertiser, Huron County View, Huron Daily Tribune, Sanilac County News, 92.1 FM The Mix and 102.1 WLEW Sports.

Foley was the Patriots’ quarterback last year, and this year made the switch to running back. It paid off as the senior ran for 1,127 yards and 17 touchdowns. And although the numbers are telling, it was Foley’s play in the clutch that set him apart. USA’s play of the season came in a Week 4 win over Cass City, and Foley was responsible for it. Trailing by six with only a couple of seconds left in the game (enough time for one more play), Foley found the end zone on a three-yard run to tie the game at 22-22. He then carried in the subsequent two-point conversion to give the Patriots the win in the GTW opener, propelling them to their first league title since 2005.

“Fourth-and-one, game on the line, he’s the guy,” Langs said. “Whoever works hardest in the offseason is going to get the football, and Tanner deserved every bit of it. And obviously it worked out for us.”

Foley earned first team all-conference both as a running back, and a defensive back. Many of his offensive yards came from running behind Finkbeiner.

“He was on the left side and Tanner was on the right, so when Tanner got the ball, he was running behind Cody Finkbeiner,” Langs said. “Cody was one of those kids in the weight room in January and February, this senior class put in the work in the offseason.”

Langs took over as USA coach prior to the 2014 season, and has improved the Patriots record by four wins in each of the past two years. This year he coached his team up when it mattered most as USA went 4-1 in games determined by eight points or less.

Roehl had knee surgery in late summer, but when he came back he resumed his role as shut-down defender. Roehl may have missed four games, but he still led the Cardinals with 73 total tackles. A former state wrestling champion, the senior recently signed to grapple for Central Michigan University.

Foley, Finkbeiner and Roehl were unanimous decisions for their awards. Langs had 24 points to beat out Ubly’s Dave Kaufman (16), Millington’s Roger Bearss (9) and Brown City’s Aren Cooper (4).

In the 8-man voting, it’s no surprise that Deckerville dominated the post-season awards. The Eagles went 8-0 in the regular season, winning the North Central Thumb League and taking a No. 2 ranking into the playoffs before settling for state runner-up after losing to No. 1 Powers North Central in the 8-man championship game. Deckerville was the unanimous choice for TSA 8-Man Team of the Year, as was Deckerville running back/defensive back Austin Fritch for Player of the Year and Eagles coach Bill Brown for Coach of the Year.

TSA All-Thumb 11-Player Football

Team of the Year: Ubly

Player of the Year: Tanner Foley, USA

Coach of the Year: Tyler Langs, USA

Defensive Player of the Year: Jared Roehl, Millington

Offensive Lineman of the Year: Cody Finkbeiner, USA

First team offense

QB — Bryce Bearss, Millington

QB — Jake Galsterer, Reese

RB — Derek Brown, Ubly

RB — Brady Payne, Millington

RB — Tanner Foley, USA

OL — Cody Finkbeiner, USA

OL — Brady Warford, Cass City

OL — Darrin Soule, Ubly

OL — Nick Eickhoff, Millington

TE/WR — Luke Wilson, Croswell-Lexington

TE/WR — Caleb Muxlow, Brown City

At large — James Schelke, Harbor Beach (WR)

At large — Brennan Wissner, Laker (QB)

At large — Kohlton Sherman, Millington (WR)

At large — Jonathan Brandel, Ubly (RB)

K — Jake Galsterer, Reese

First team defense

DL — Max Slater, USA

DL — Adam Grifka, Ubly

DL — Nick Eickhoff, Millington

DL — Keegan Galbraith, Croswell-Lexington

DL — Bradley Gierman, Brown City

LB — Dominic Rosenthal, Ubly

LB — Brady Payne, Millington

LB — Jared Roehl, Millington

LB — Mitchell Bender, Reese

DB — Jake Galsterer, Reese

DB — Brennan Wissner, Laker

DB — Jonathan Brandel, Ubly

DB — Michael Graves, Caro

DB — Tanner Foley, USA

P — Brady Kirsch, Harbor Beach

Second team offense

QB — Brady Kirsch, Harbor Beach

QB — Matt Maikrzek, Ubly

RB — Josh Lang, USA

RB — Hunter Seley, Laker

RB — T.J. Moore, Cass City

OL — Keegan Biscorner, Croswell-Lexington

OL — Lukas Selich, Millington

OL — Aaron Klama, Ubly

TE/WR — Cameron Henderson, Millington

TE/WR — Keegan Valentine, Laker

At large — Chorben Chisholm, Marlette (RB)

At large — Michael Graves, Caro (RB)

At large — Brad Hacker, Cass City (RB)

At large — Ricky Lindsay, Brown City (RB)

K — Shane Horton, Millington

Second team defense

DL — Darrin Soule, Ubly

DL — Travis Cryderman, USA

DL — T.J. Moore, Cass City

DL — Elijah Gorde, Reese

DL — Brady Warford, Cass City

LB — Luke Wilson, Croswell-Lexington

LB — Nick Perry, Cass City

LB — Caleb Muxlow, Brown City

LB — Jacob Topham, Caro

DB — Jacob Hartman, Reese

DB — Kohlton Sherman, Millington

DB — Derek Brown, Ubly

DB — Calvin Cook, Brown City

DB — Logan Rutledge, North Branch

P — Marcus Armstrong, Marlette

TSA All-Thumb 8-Player Football

Team of the Year: Deckerville

Player of the Year: Austin Fritch, Deckerville

Coach of the Year: Bill Brown, Deckerville

First team offense

QB — Brandon Patullo, Deckerville

QB — Jared Hoag, Mayville

RB — Austin Fritch, Deckerville

RB — Jake Warack, Owendale-Gagetown

RB — Justin Ritchie, Carsonville-Port Sanilac

OL — Reese Bays-Kramer, Deckerville

OL — Jackson Schenk, Mayville

OL — Will Sharrard, Peck

OL — Leland Raetz, Carsonville-Port Sanilac

TE — Derek Vincent, Owendale-Gagetown

At large — David Binder, Owendale-Gagetown (RB)

At large — Chance Chippi, Caseville (RB)

At large — Wyatt Janowiak, Deckerville (TE)

At large — Hunter James, Kingston (QB)

At large — Zach Lefler, Mayville (RB)

K — Wyatt Janowiak, Deckerville

First team defense

DL — Austin Spaetzel, Deckerville

DL — Bo Mickelson, Kingston

DL — John Ridley, Deckerville

LB — Reese Bays-Kramer, Deckerville

LB — Ben Hulley, Mayville

LB — Cole Romzek, Deckerville

DB — Brandon Patullo, Deckerville

DB — Chris Beurmann, Peck

DB — Austin Fritch, Deckerville

At large — Derek Vincent Owendale-Gagetown (DB)

At large — Joe Ales, Caseville (DL)

At large — David Weller, Peck (LB)

P — Grant Koehler, Kingston

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