HUDSON, Mich. (AP) — Nick Kopin was brought up to Hudson’s varsity football team as a sophomore because they needed bodies on defense for a team that finished 2-7.
As a senior this season, he became one of the best two-way Division 8 players in the state as he led Hudson to a 14-0 season and the school’s first state football championship since 2011. For his efforts, including a 131-yard, two-touchdown performance in the state finals, Kopin leads the 2021 Associated Press Division 7-8 All-State squad as the Player of the Year.
“We were a super young team then,” Kopin said. “Our coaches knew it was going to be a process. We knew it was the start of something good.”
Kopin was one of five three-year starters who helped lead Hudson’s resurgence to football prominence. After going 4-4 last year, Hudson was undefeated this season with a standout defense and a powerful rushing attack, led by Kopin and his 1,616 yards rushing on 254 carries. He scored 18 touchdowns, the final two coming in the state finals in a 14-7 win against Beal City.
He is joined on the first team All-State squad by teammates Cameron Kimball, a lineman, and Payton Rogers, a linebacker. Hudson head coach Dan Rogers is the Michigan Associated Press Division 7-8 Coach of the Year.
Kopin was equally as valuable on defense. In the semifinal win against Ottawa Lake Whiteford, he had two interceptions and was in on the game-saving tackle with less than 2 seconds remaining inside Hudson’s 5-yard line. In the state finals he led Hudson in tackles, broke up a pass and forced a fumble.
“In that state championship game, he was everywhere," Rogers said.
Hudson turned a lot of heads by opening the season with a 59-14 win against Ithaca and it swept through the Lenawee County Athletic Association. In the playoffs, the top-ranked Tigers beat previously ranked Reading, No. 4 Addison, No. 6 White Pigeon, No. 2 Ottawa Lake Whiteford and No. 5 Beal City.
“From early on, coaches told us 14 was our magic number,” Kopin said. “It put some pressure on us, but I think we embraced it. We wanted to repeat history and do what our 2010 team did. I’m still in shock. It’s such an amazing feeling.”
The Division 7-8 All-State team also features quarterbacks Austin Fowler of Holton and Charlie Peterson of Traverse City St. Francis, both seniors. Fowler put up tremendous numbers, passing for 2,265 yards and 33 touchdowns while Peterson set school records with 1,876 yards passing and 22 touchdowns.
Kopin is joined at running back by Jake Rueff of Lawton, Zach Carlson of Ishpeming Westwood and Cole Giesige of Ottawa Lake-Whiteford. Rueff rushed for 2,317 yards and helped Lawton reach the state finals while Giesige scored 30 touchdowns.
The All-State wide receivers are Patrick Stewart of Charlevoix, Carlos White of Detroit Central, Bret Hosmer of Holton and Wyatt Nausadis of Traverse City St. Francis.
In addition to Kimball, the lineman are three-time all-state choice Noah Bauman of Ottawa Lake-Whiteford, Evan Stephayn of Lawton, Corey Schafer of Pewamo-Westphalia, Judah Daniels of Detroit Central, Levi Harber of Montrose, Gorzenski of Traverse City St. Francis and Gavin Dawson of Ishpeming Westwood.
Rogers, the son of the Hudson coach, is joined at linebacker by Landon Nurenberg of Pewamo-Westphalia, Nicholas Trumble of Addison, a repeat selection, David Whitehead of Leslie and Joey Donahue, the fourth All-State from Traverse City St. Francis.
Defensive backs on the team include Davon Ruffin of Madison Heights Madison, Angelo Costanza of Madison Heights Bishop Foley, Jacob Hamilton of Reading and Isaac Brady of Whitmore Lake. Ruffin had eight interceptions.
Jackson Zeiter of Bishop Foley is the specialist, Brett Mueller of Ubly the kicker and Troy Wertman of the Division 7 state champion Pewamo-Westphalia the punter.