The Year in Sports 2006

Posted In: Sports, Local Sports,   From Issue 628   By: Jack B Tany

21st December, 2006     0

Saginaw County athletes and teams excelled on the hard court, gridiron and diamond in 2006.

Leading the way in '06 was the catholic high school on the corner of Weiss and Wieneke Roads - Nouvel Catholic Central. Nouvel capped an incredible season by capturing state championships in two sports, football and girl's basketball. True, it's happened before. Three times to be exact. Norway pulled the trick in 1979 with an 11-1 football team and a 24-3 basketball team. Detroit Country Day did it twice, the first time coming in 1995 with a 12-1 football team and a 24-2 basketball team. The Yellowjackets did it again in 1999 with an 11-3 grid team and a 23-4 hoops squad. But Nouvel became the first school in the state to capture state titles in the same season while going undefeated. The football team, under head coach Mike Boyd, went 12-0 and nabbed the Division 6 crown with a 28-14 victory over Inkster at Detroit's Ford Field. One week later the Panthers' basketball team upended Flint Hamady 65-56 at Michigan State University's Breslin Center to collect the top honors in Class C. Kris Hengesbach is the NCC girl's cage coach.

Other sports highlights from around the area include:

LaMarr Woodley established himself as one of the finest defensive linemen to ever wear the maize and blue at the University of Michigan. The Saginaw High graduate won the Ted Hendricks Award as the nation's top defensive end. The 6-foot-2, 269-pounder also was named the 37th winner of the Lombardi Award, which goes to the nation's top lineman, either on offense or defense. He was among the nation's leaders in sacks (11), tackles for loss (15.5) and forced fumbles (4). The Wolverine co-captain also landed Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year laurels.

Arthur Hill High School captured the Class A state championship in boy's basketball when the Lumberjacks outlasted a pesky Okemos team 85-84 in overtime at Michigan State University's Breslin Center. The Hillites, coached by Greg McMath, were led by all-stater Dar Tucker and standout guard Tommy Prater. It marked AHHS's first state title in basketball since 1944 when coach Bill Kelly's Lumberjacks bested Kalamazoo Central, 41-39.

Buena Vista High School stopped Berrien Springs 57-52 to capture the Class C state champion in boy's basketball. It marked the Knights' sixth state title in boy's basketball - the most ever in Saginaw County history.

… There now are two Saginawians in the National Basketball Association. Saginaw High product Anthony Roberson joined jumping jack Jason "JR" Richardson on the Golden State Warriors squad. Roberson, who played two years at the University of Florida, is a 6-foot-2, 188-pound guard.

… The demise of Charles Rogers. The former Saginaw High and Michigan State University star receiver was cut loose by the Detroit Lions. His work ethic in practice was questioned by new coach Rod Marinelli, and Marinelli couldn't tolerate it anymore. Rogers, a former No. 1 draft pick, had tryouts with the Miami Dolphins, Green Bay Packers and the New England Patriots, but didn't make a strong enough impression to stick. The Lions also want him to give back $10.1 million from a seven-year contract he signed in 2003 because of the suspension.

… Two Saginaw gridiron stars - Michigan's LaMarr Woodley and Michigan State's Clifton Ryan - had a very large hand(s) in the Heroes for Kids golf outing. The longtime friends, who attended Saginaw High and Arthur Hill, respectively, serve as co-chairmen of the event which has raised nearly $90,000 the past two years to benefit youth recreation programs in the city of Saginaw.

Ashley Nieman of Freeland High School was named the state's Miss Softball for 2006 by the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association. Nieman, a four-year starter, was a two-time all-state selection, hitting .444 her senior year and compiling a 20-game hitting streak. She drove in 34 runs and scored 47 times. The Falcon captain and team MVP played second base and had a fielding percentage of .968. Her 25 career triples rank sixth in the state of Michigan. It was the second consecutive year a Freeland Falcon captured the award. Standout hurler Stacey Delaney, who now pitches for the University of Michigan, was awarded the honor in 2005.

… Over 650 people helped celebrate Saginaw County Sports Hall of Fame's Class of 2006 at the Horizons Conference Center. Making the grade this year was Jerry "Petey" Armstrong, Don Bethune, James "Ike" Bearinger, Monty Brown, Dennis Desrosiers, Bill Frieder, Art Gillis, Don Schiesswohl, Richard Weinberg, Warren "Whitey" Wilson and the Saginaw Bolters fast pitch softball team. Their plaques will join others from the first three induction classes and will be permanently displayed at Saginaw Valley State University's Jack Ryder Center.

… Collecting Saginaw County Athlete of the Year honors for 2006, as voted upon by the Saginaw County Sports Hall of Fame, were Hemlock High School's Greg Bartlett and Freeland High School's Ashley Nieman. Bartlett was a football/basketball/baseball standout for the Huskies while Nieman excelled in basketball and softball.


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