Ryan Schlehuber “Scoop”

Mikayla Linebaugh, right, The Daily News Volleyball Coach of the Year, once again led her Belding Redskins team to a district title with wins over Ithaca and Chippewa Hills. The team finished the season 24-10-2 overall. (File photo)

VOLLEYBALL COACH OF THE YEAR: Mikayla Linebaugh, Belding

In the 18 years Belding girls volleyball coach Mikayla Linebaugh has been coaching, a bar of expectation had been raised to a point to where winning a district title is always the goal, even in a year when it looks as though the team is rebuilding. As it turns out, the Redskins were able to retool. Belding finished with a 24-10-2 record and another district title, reaching the regionals yet again.

Senior Kenzie Rutz led the Central Montcalm volleyball team to a 33-9-5 record this year. (Daily News | Ryan Schlehuber)

VOLLEYBALL PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Kenzie Rutz, Central Montcalm

Kenzie Rutz’s all-around statistics with this year’s Central Montcalm volleyball team alone qualifies her as the Daily News Player of the Year, but it’s what she has done beyond statistics that really spell her worthiness.

Lakeview linebacker James Smith finished with 97 tackles and two interceptions in eight games for the Wildcats this year. (File photo)

FOOTBALL DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: James Smith, Lakeview

There was more to James Smith than being a great defensive player. The Lakeview senior was one of the few ironmen that played on both sides of the ball during football games.

CC-C’s Drew Stout was a dual-threat player for the Eagles, passing for 1,808 yards and rushing for 1,057 yards, with 30 total touchdowns on the year. (File photo)

FOOTBALL OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Drew Stout, Carson City-Crystal

Last year, Carson City-Crystal Drew Stout was merely the team’s backup running back, but when new Eagles coach Ben Brock took over, he was looking for a particular player to run the spread offense. He found it in Stout.

Madi Cutler (14), one of four seniors on this year’s Montabella Mustangs girls basketball team, will be looked upon to improve on last year’s 9-12 record. Mustangs coach Terry Larsen said the team’s defense will be one of the key components to the team’s success this year. (File photos)

Montabella’s tight-knit girls basketball team has plenty of fire, confidence this year

When he saw the competitiveness between two of his basketball players escalate to almost an all-out scuffle during a recent practice, Terry Larsen was liking what he was seeing.

Carson City-Crystal sophomore Bailey Fitzpatrick (4) fends off a swarm of Green Hornets in the second quarter of Tuesday night’s game between the Eagles and Central Montcalm. The Eagles pulled out a 51-33 win during the opening season game at home. Pictured are, from left,  in the background, Eagles’ Cara Wiles (13) and Hornets’ Emilee Bohen (1) , and surrounding Fitzpatrick are Kiley Guelzo (12), Bree Brasington (10) and Kenzie Rutz. (Daily News | Ryan Schlehuber)

CC-C girls basketball’s 51-33 victory over Central Montcalm earns coach’s first win

It wasn’t until the final buzzer sounded that the new Carson City-Crystal girls basketball coach could sigh a relief.

It took three quarters for both teams to shake off the opening season jitters Tuesday, but it was Tim Stout’s Eagles that finally got into a scoring groove, exploding for 28 points in the fourth quarter to pull out a 51-33 non-conference victory against the Central Montcalm Green Hornets.

Simone D’Errico, a foreign exchange student from Turin, Italy, and a senior at Belding, played football for the first time with the Belding varsity football team. He’s now focused on playing with the basketball team this winter. (Daily News | Ryan Schlehuber)

Italian exchange student playing 3 sports for Belding

When Thaddeous Holbrook first saw Belding’s new exchange student trying out for football, he wasn’t impressed.
“He looked skinnier than the rest of us,” the Belding senior said of Simone D’Errico, of Turin, Italy, who is spending a year at Belding High School.
“I thought maybe he might get hurt.” But when the soft-spoken Italian put pads on and started practicing with the team, Holbrook’s thoughts about D’Errico’s ability completely changed.
“He blindsided me on a tackle and I was floored,” Holbrook laughed. “He was real fast, and is real good.”

Denise Oostinga, a foreign exchange student from the Netherlands, has been taking on a lot of “firsts” in her life since arriving in America in August. The Carson City-Crystal senior took on the sport of volleyball, playing withe Eagles volleyball team this past fall. She’s now challenging herself to learn basketball and will be playing for the Fellowship Baptist Academy team this winter. (Daily News | Ryan Schlehuber)

Netherlands exchange student Denise Oostinga takes on ‘firsts’ in America

As the saying goes, “When in Rome, do what the Romans do.”

For Denise Oostinga, she’s doing what Americans do, and loving it.

Oostinga, 17, of Heiloo, Netherlands, is enrolled as a senior at Carson City-Crystal, and is enjoying her first time in America.

The Tri County Vikings had one genuine Viking among them this year, Norwegian foreign exchange student Anders Leine, who played backup quarterback and played a “big role” on the team this year, according to Vikings football coach Phil Butler. (Daily News/Ryan Schlehuber)

Norwegian foreign exchange student lives out dream of playing American football

If you know who “Wilson” and “Wilma” are, then you know just how much Anders Leine loves football.

Leine, a 17-year-old foreign exchange student who lives near Lillehammer, Norway, is enrolled as a senior at Tri County High School this year. Since his arrival in August, he can often be seen carrying Wilson and Wilma, two footballs he purchased shortly after he arrived in America, which is example of just how much this “Viking” loves American football.

Senior quarterback Jason Whitens (15) scampers down the field for an 89-yard touchdown run to put his Powers North Central Jets up 14-0 against the Deckerville Eagles during the MHSAA eight-man football state finals at Greenville’s Legacy Field Friday. The Jets repeated as champions, winning 58-22. (Daily News | Ryan Schlehuber)

Powers North Central establishes ‘legacy’ with back-to-back 8-man state titles

The small community of Powers is quickly establishing itself as the “title town” of the Upper Peninsula with its school.

The Jets of Powers North Central used a 30-0 run in the second half of the Michigan High School Athletic Association’s eight-man football state final game Friday night at Greenville’s Legacy Field to beat the Deckerville Eagles 58-22 to repeat at state champions.