Shea Ruddy has watched Ottawa Lake-Whiteford’s state championship game at least five times since his Bobcats won the Division 8 title. He is still amazed.
“In the moment I didn’t realize how much we had to do on that drive,” Ruddy said. “I don’t think I even realized we had a fourth down in there. I think I was just thinking about the moment and playing. I wasn’t keeping track of anything. I was just trying to win the game.”
Ruddy led the Bobcats on a remarkable 17-play drive that took nearly eight minutes off the clock, ending with his touchdown run to put Whiteford in front of Ubly 26-20 with under two minutes left. He then teamed with his brother, Ryin, to knock down Ubly’s fourth down pass on the ensuing drive to secure the win.
“It still seems surreal that we are state champions,” he said.
The state championship season helped Ruddy earn player of the year honors from The Michigan Associated Press for Division 7-8.
On the championship-winning drive, Ruddy completed two passes and ran the ball seven times himself. He had a 6-yard run on a fourth-and-4 from the Whiteford 46 midway through the drive and his touchdown run converted a third-and-7.
Ruddy is Whiteford’s first four-year starter at quarterback. He played in a school-record 45 games and holds just about every passing record. He threw a school-record five touchdown passes in Week 7, set another mark with 19 touchdown passes in a season has the career passing yards record with 4,461.
The Bobcats won 35 of his 45 career starts, including five wins when he was a 15-year-old freshman. He’s a 4.0 student and still weighing his college options.
“Most importantly, he’s a great leader and a nice kid,” Whiteford coach Todd Thieken said.
Ruddy is joined on the All-State list by teammate Jake Iott at linebacker and lineman Brayden Luse.
Division 7 champion Jackson Lumen Christi has running back Derrick Walker and head coach Herb Brogan.
Wyatt Nausadis of Traverse City St. Francis made the team at quarterback while his teammate Joey Donahue is first-team linebacker. Joining Walker at running back are Ethan Wissner of Eklton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker, Bart Laretz of Napoleon and Brenden Haisenleder of Marine City Cardinal Mooney.
Ethan Hull of Ithaca, Dakobe White of Evart, Jaxon Childers of Benzonia Benzie Central and Jaylin Townsend of Flint Beecher are the receivers.
The linemen include Tristin Duncan of Detroit Central; Hunter Nysen of Sterling Heights Parkway Christian; Jon Brzezinski of Clarkston Everest Collegiate; Sam Gall of North Muskegon; Nolan Collins of Lawton; Zac Affholter of Reading; Michael Stevenson of Montrose; Jaden Curry of New Lothrop; Canden Peruski and Parker Peruski of Division 8 runner-up Ubly; Ben Straus of Beal City; Mike Humphreys of Napoleon and Mack Bontekoe of McBain.
Mikel Good of Elkton-Pigeon-Bay Port Laker, Tagg Gott of Schoolcraft and Easten Strodtman of Hudson are the other linebackers. The all-state defensive backs are Dontez Hicks of Detroit Central, Luke Wolfe of Iron Mountain and Jacob Hamilton of Reading.
Hunter Hogan of Ravenna is the first team specialist with Rease Teel of Perry the first team kicker and Troy Wertman of Pewamo-Westphalia the punter.
The All-State team was selected by a panel of sports writers from across the state.