By Nate Thompson
Head coach Jack Nummerdor said the Red Devils have been missing at least five starters in each of their eight games this fall, resulting in a 2-6 record. Holton has five losses by 20 or more points.
“We’ve had eight concussions. We lost our starting center (Mackire Gould) to a broken femur early on,” Nummerdor said. “We started the season with 24 kids, and last week we had 15 healthy bodies. Without a healthy lineup to rely on, it’s been a struggle.”
Holton found a ray of sunshine in a season full of dark clouds on Oct. 7, although it came during a 48-26 loss to Lakeview.
During the contest, senior quarterback Blake Fialek entered the Michigan High School Athletic Association state single-game record book by completing 25 passes. He was seven yards shy of qualifying for the record book for single-game passing yardage, finishing with 393 yards against the Wildcats.
Fialek’s main receiver that night was junior Brent McLaughlin, who also qualified for the MHSAA record book by catching 14 passes for a mammoth 261 yards.
Fialek joins an elite list of roughly 30 quarterbacks over the years who have completed at least 25 throws during a game. The all-time state record for completions in a game is 41, held by three different players. The most recent QB to hit that mark was Grayling’s Jimmy Osga in 2008.
“I didn’t really have a clue about my stats until that Monday after the game,” Fialek said. “Our line really did a great job of protecting me and our wide receivers ran a lot of good routes. It made my job a lot easier.”
Fialek has been among the many Red Devils on the injured list this year. He missed the game against Morley Stanwood on Sept. 23 with a concussion.
“It was hard for me being on the sidelines and seeing my team struggle, realizing I couldn’t help them out,” Fialek said. “But this team has really come together. We’ve been through a lot with all the injuries. It’s not all about the wins and losses. Now I just want to see the younger guys close strong. I’m focused on helping them get ready for next season.”
One of the key returning players next year will be McLaughlin, who doesn’t have blazing speed at receiver, but gets the job done with great hands and solid route running.
There are only 21 players in MHSAA history with more receiving yards than the 261 McLaughlin totaled. The record belongs to Detroit Cesar Chavez’s Nate Drew, who tallied 456 in a 2013 game.
McLaughlin’s 14 catches in the game were only four short of the state record of 18, held by two different players. The most recent to catch 18 passes was Comstock Park’s Nick Turowski in 2015.
“It was just good play-calling from our coaches and a lot of good passes from Blake,” McLaughlin said. “And I was lucky enough to make some big plays out of it.”
Although the losses would seem to make this season forgettable, McLaughlin said he’s cherished the opportunity to play with a dedicated senior class, including Fialek.
“He does a good job at working with what he’s got,” McLaughlin said of the Red Devils’ signal caller. “He’s doesn’t always get a lot of time to make plays back there, but he gets the job done as well as anyone.”