Chelsea coach Brad Bush isn’t one for hyperbole, but he couldn’t restrain himself when asked about Orchard Lake St. Mary’s junior linebacker Josh Ross.
“He’s the best player I’ve seen on film since Woodley,” Bush said. “I think he’s that good.”
Bush didn’t mean to insinuate that Ross, whose older brother James starts at Michigan, is going to become a college All-America like former Saginaw star LaMarr Woodley and spend nine seasons (so far) in the NFL.
He was talking about Ross as a high school player and St. Mary’s as a team defense, which defeated Chelsea, 29-12, in the Division 3 state championship game.
“I’m not trying to overplay it,” Bush said, “but I thought, for me, defensively, that’s the best defensive team we’ve seen on film. De La Salle had four first downs against them in the Prep Bowl. Four? The whole game.”
Ross, 6-feet-1, 205 pounds, led the St. Mary’s defense again, and his interception set up the Eaglets’ second score for a 15-0 lead. Chelsea couldn’t recover, although it played considerably better from then on.
This was St. Mary’s second consecutive state title, and Ross has his eyes set on winning a third next season.
“It’s something to look forward to,” he said. “This was a great year. Last year was a great, great team. I’m going to miss the seniors that we had this year. Next year, we have to step up and win another one. All the hard work we did this year, we have to emulate it next year and do the same thing.”
Basketball season begins next week in Ishpeming, and Ozzy Corp will be on the court.
He plays every position imaginable, and in last season’s district final, he blocked nine shots.
That is important, because on fourth down from the Ishpeming 32-yard line and Ishpeming leading Pewamo-Westphalia, 22-16, with 43 seconds left, Corp was at his safety spot when the ball was thrown into the Ishpeming end zone. Corp leaped into the air and swatted the ball to the ground with a force that nearly planted the ball into the turf.
“You know how you always see those plays on SportsCenter where someone catches it and they just take it away?” Corp asked. “I was trying to bat it down and get it away from their players.”
Corp did just that and in the process helped Ishpeming take the Division 7 state championship trophy back to the Upper Peninsula for the third time in his four-year high school career.
While he led Ishpeming with 10 tackles, Corp’s main contributions came offensively. The 6-5, 205-pound quarterback carried the ball 32 times for 128 yards and three touchdowns. He also was 6-for-11 passing for 77 yards. He carried the ball 41 times in the semifinal win.
“You never think that you’re going to do that going into the game, but during the game you just want to keep going,” Corp said. “You get on a run and you want to keep going.”
This has been an amazing four-year run for the Hematites, and it began with quarterback Alex Briones, who is now a linebacker at Central Michigan, doing exactly what Corp has done the past two years.
“After we’d play somebody in Alex’s senior year, the coaches would say they were glad Briones was gone,” coach Jeff Olson said. “I knew in the back of my mind we had somebody coming up that was going to be just like him, and he is.”
Corp and Briones are different kids, but when it comes to running an offense, they’re the same.
“For our offense, No. 1, he’s an athlete,” Olson said of Corp. “But No. 2, you have to be tough and hard-nosed whether you’re carrying the ball 30-plus times or whether you’re blocking and carrying the ball. And then you have to be able to step back in the pocket and throw, so you’ve got to be very multidimensional.”
After basketball season, Corp will play baseball and run track.
Briones became a legendary figure in Ishpeming when he led the Hematites to two state titles, and that was a tough standard for Corp to live up to, but he handled it better than anyone could have imagined.
“I just wanted my own identity,” Corp said. “Briones is a great player and he had a legacy, but I think we have our own legacy with our team. I think I carried it over with his style, but I wanted my own identity.”
As a postscript to the regional final incident when referee Tom Rau initiated contact with me and shoved me before I could ask a question: Had a Free Press reporter initiated contact and shoved a game official, the Free Press likely would have suspended the reporter. When the referee initiated contact and shoved a reporter, the Michigan High School Athletic Association gave him a state championship game assignment.
That speaks volumes about the MHSAA.
Contact Mick McCabe: 313-223-4744 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mickmccabe1.
Division 1: Romeo
Division 2: Detroit King
Division 3: Orchard Lake St. Mary’s
Division 4: Zeeland West
Division 5: Grand Rapids West Catholic
Division 6: Ithaca
Division 7: Ishpeming
Division 8: Muskegon Catholic Central