Whiteford vs. Ubly State Championship Preview

By Frank Vajcner

It’s a matchup of small school blue bloods in the MHSAA Division 8 State Championship, as Whiteford will take on Ubly at Ford Field on Friday, November 25th. This will be the first meeting between both schools

Whiteford Bobcats (13-0, TCC)


Defeated Addison 64-22 

Defeated Riverview Gabriel Richard 56-19

Defeated White Pigeon 38-26

Defeated Clarkston Everest Collegiate 44-6

In the first year under Todd Thieken, Whiteford has reached Ford Field for the third time in program history, and will be looking for their second state championship. An offense averaging 49.1 points per game is led by senior QB Shea Ruddy (1129 passing yards, 19 TDs; 725 rushing yards, 17 TDs). The four-year starter has shattered multiple school records; most of which were set by Tommy Eitniear, who oddly enough, led the Bobcats to a State Championship in 2017

When Ruddy looks to throw the ball, he will target RB/WR Hunter DeBarr (16 catches, 361 yards, 7 TDs), TE Kolby Masserant (18 catches, 367 yards, 3 TDs), and TE (and younger brother) Ryin Ruddy (15 catches, 279 yards, 8 TDs). However, the Bobcats will really make hay with their rushing attack, which has a pair of 1000-yard rushers in DeBarr (116 carries, 1116 yards, 10 TDs) and Jake Iott (137 carries, 1121 yards, 21 TDs). Both are dangerous in the open field. Drew “Diesel” Knaggs (87 carries, 524 yards, 7 TDs) will also get opportunities to carry the mail, but he does most of his work between the tackles. Iott also has a school-record 36 two-point conversions on the season.

Of course, the Bobcats’ offensive line, with Kyle Gray at center, Shane Suchora and Brayden Luse at the guards, and Jack Iott (Jake’s twin brother) and Owen Knaggs (Drew’s older brother) at the tackles, deserve their fair share of credit for the offense averaging 8.0 yards per play, and ringing up almost 4300 rushing yards on the year.

On the defensive side, the Bobcats are allowing 12.2 points per game, and have recorded 23 takeaways. The heart and soul of the defense is Jake Iott at linebacker, as he has continued to add to his school-record 189 tackles. Iott also has 14 TFLs, eight sacks, five fumble recoveries, four passes defended, and three forced fumbles. Up front, DE Seamus Waterford (54 tackles, 10 TFLs, nine sacks, fumble recovery) has led the way on the line. The secondary has turned into a “no-fly zone” that has allowed eight passing touchdowns, and grabbed 12 interceptions.

Ryin Ruddy (113 tackles, 12 PBU, 4 interceptions) leads the way in the defensive backfield, and is joined by Kolby Masserant (61 tackles, eight PBUs, four interceptions), Shea Ruddy (64 tackles, 18 PBUs),  DeBarr (59 tackles, 14 PBUs, interception), and Stephon Masserant (57 tackles, eight PBUs, interception).

Ubly Bearcats (13-0, Greater Thumb Conference – East Division)


Defeated Saginaw Nouvel 49-6

Defeated Michigan Lutheran Seminary 49-14

Defeated Fowler 49-7

Defeated Iron Mountain 41-14

The Bearcats, led by Eric Sweeney, are making their third appearance at Ford Field, but will be looking for their first crown. Their full house T offense comes in averaging 48.5 points per game, 376 rushing yards per game, and a staggering 10.8 yards per carry. They have also scored a minimum of 41 points in every game this season.

Like Whiteford, Ubly has a pair of 1000-yard rushers in RB Mark Heilig (120 carries, 1354 rushing yards, 29 TDs) and QB Evan Peruski (69 carries, 1165 rushing yards, 20 TDs). Other ball carriers for the Bearcats include RB Aiden Mackowiak (89 carries, 943 rushing yards, 13 TDs) and RB Seth Maurer (70 carries, 714 rushing yards, 12 TDs). The strong ground game has led to Peruski not having to do much in terms of throwing (15-for-21, 321 passing yards, 6 TDs). Luke Volmering (nine catches, 170 receiving yards, 4 TDs) has been the primary target.

The Bearcat defense has been stout, as they have allowed a scant 7.0 points per game, while allowing no more than 16 points in any contest. Leading the way defensively are Mackowiak (121 tackles, two fumble recoveries), Canden Peruski (121 tackles, fumble recovery), Heilig (77 tackles, three interceptions), and Evan Peruski (46 tackles, three interceptions).

Brett Mueller has been very reliable as a kicker, making 84-of-87 PATs. Evan Peruski also has a punt return for a score.

Facts & Fun:

  • Both teams lost in the semifinals last season, by a combined 11 points.
  • Whiteford has nine sets of brothers on their roster
  • Both teams have made a habit of winning by double digits in the playoffs. Ubly’s last single-digit postseason win was in 2020 over Unionville-Sebewaing. Whiteford’s last single-digit playoff win was in 2015 over Summerfield.


Frank: As I alluded to, both teams have made a habit of winning playoff games by double digits. I can’t see this one trading that way, as both teams play a physical style. This is one that will go to the wire, and it will come down to which quarterback can make the clutch plays. I like Shea Ruddy to do just that late in this game.

Frank: Whiteford 32, Ubly 28.

Gary: Whiteford 32 Ubly 30

Chris: Whiteford 28 Ubly 27

7 thoughts on “Whiteford vs. Ubly State Championship Preview”

  1. Chris
    You guy know football right.
    What NFL player made the pro bowl but never played high school or college football?
    No counting any football before 1970.

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