Grayling quarterback gets into the MHSAA record books with 623 passing yards, eight passing TDs during 58-46 comeback win
Prior to Friday and Saturday’s varsity football games throughout the state of Michigan, only two players in the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) record books had surpassed the 600 mark for passing yardage in a single game. After Grayling High School’s performance on Friday at Benzie Central – a contest that the Vikings won by a final score of 58-46 – there were three quarterbacks with more than 600 passing yards in one game.
Justin Nicholas, senior QB for Grayling, finished Friday’s contest vs. Benzie Central with 623 passing yards, completing 39 of 72 attempts; he had eight passing touchdowns.
“This was a wild game, and we were fortunate to come out with a victory,” Coach Tim Sanchez said. “Credit to our kids, as they never gave up and they believed in themselves to the very end.”
According to the MHSAA’s online record book, Omar Salih of Detroit Cesar Chavez Academy passed for 674 yards vs. Mayville in 2013, a performance listed as the most passing yards all-time for Michigan in a single contest. Salih had 615 passing yards vs. Marine City Cardinal Mooney in 2015, a mark that Nicholas passed on Friday vs. the Huskies of Benzie Central. The only other 600-yard passing performance in the record book is Brendon Fitch of Swartz Creek vs. Flint Kearsley in 2013 (603 yards).
“It was also a record-breaking night for us. Justin Nicholas went 39 of 72 with 623 yards and eight TDs. Each one of those stats are second most all time in Michigan history,” Coach Sanchez said. “Receivers stepped up and made some great plays, and the offensive line and running backs made some great blocks to give him time to find his receivers.”
The previous record for most passing yards in a game for Grayling High School was Jimmy Osga’s 507 vs. Boyne City in 2008, a mark that was 12th all-time prior to last week’s slate of games.
Osga’s 74 pass attempts during the 2008 game against Boyne City still ranks number one all-time in the MHSAA record book. Osga’s 70 passing attempts vs. Traverse City St. Francis in 2008 was second all-time on the list prior to Nicholas throwing 72 times on Friday vs. Benzie Central.
Nicholas also came close to Osga’s all-time Michigan record of 41 completions in a single game (vs. Traverse City St. Francis, 2008, tied with two other players) during Friday’s game; he had 39 completions vs. Benzie Central, tied for the third most all-time.
The eight passing TDs in one game for Nicholas puts him in a tie for second place all-time in Michigan. The all-time record is nine, established by Salih in 2013.
During Friday’s record-setting comeback win vs. Benzie Central, Logan Joseph had 14 catches for 211 yards and two TDs; he also had 43 rushing yards and one TD on the ground. Rickey Heavner had 173 receiving yards and two TDs. Ken Dutton had 86 receiving yards and two TDs. Zack Osga and Parker Dole also had touchdown catches.
On defense, Justin Youngblood had eight tackles, two fumble recoveries, and one sack. Jaden Gauthier had nine tackles and one sack. Tyler Withers had 11 tackles and one sack. Jacob Macfalda had seven tackles and one sack. Eli Jackson had six tackles and one sack. Jordan Harris had six tackles and one sack. Joseph had an interception. Heavner had four tackles and one fumble recovery.
The Vikings (5-3 overall, 3-3 league) will end their 2017 regular season with a Northern Michigan Football Conference Legends Division game vs. the Kalkaska Blazers (4-4 overall, 2-4 league) on Friday, Oct. 20, at 7 p.m. at Kalkaska.
If Grayling wins, it will clinch an automatic playoff berth with six victories.