HILLSDALE CTY — With the end of the fall sports season, we take a look back at some of the biggest moments from the 2021 season in Hillsdale County. There were many games, races, and matches that took our attention this season, and many tightly contested contests saw teams battle it out for championships and for conference bragging rights.
The Hillsdale Daily News has selected five of these moments from the season that were highlighted as some of the most memorable sports events from the fall. Readers will get to vote for which nominee is the most memorable moment of the 2021 fall sports season.
In addition to the nominees below, several other highlights from the year will be included in the final results story.
Here is a brief summary of each moment selected for the voting poll. A full story will be released for the most memorable moment once voting has concluded.
Jonesville Prep Volleyball Wins the "Think Pink" Tournament
One of the biggest tournaments for County teams during the fall sports season, The Jonesville Comets hosted the "Think Pink" tournament on Oct. 16. The event, also known as "I Wear Pink for Someone Special" brings health awareness for young adults in the community and the things they can do to keep themselves and families protected from different forms of cancer. The tournament also recognizes individuals who have been affected by cancer in each team's communities. Medals were handed out to each team as they presented one individual that they were playing for.
Organized by Comet Athletic Director Kathy Bondsteel, the tournament hosted several County teams and other local teams in pool play. Teams would then advance to either Gold or Silver bracket tournaments. The Jonesville Comets, led by coaches Dan Snook and Erin Brackman, managed to land in the Gold bracket. The Comets would face Camden-Frontier in the Gold bracket finals, defeating Camden-Frontier 25-19 in the final set to win their tournament and take home the trophy.
Hillsdale Academy Boys Soccer Bring Home District Title
The Hillsdale Academy Colts played one of the toughest regular seasons in all of the state of Michigan, playing against some of the best opponents in Division 4 soccer. That experience propelled the Colts to a District Title opportunity on Oct. 21.
The Colts traveled to Tecumseh High School to take on a tough Grass Lake Warriors team that just defeated one of the top ranked D4 teams in Lenawee Christian.
The atmosphere and fans that traveled to cheer on the Colts energized the team to one of their best matches of the year. The Colts would go on to roll over the Warriors with a 5-0 final score. The team celebrated their second District Title in two seasons.
Hillsdale Academy Prep Volleyball Wins District Title over Camden-Frontier
The one thing any coach could ask for is for their team to be in a position to win a championship against a great team. Both Camden-Frontier and Hillsdale Academy would be in that position in a District Championship battle between coach Katherine Huffman and the Colts and coach Dawn Follis and Camden-Frontier.
Camden-Frontier finished the regular season as one of the best prep volleyball team in Division 4, and one of the top teams in the SCAA.
The Colts would rally back from a opening season losing record to find themselves hosting a District Title match.
Both teams would battle it out in a hard fought four set match. Both teams brought one of the biggest crowds of the entire volleyball season to Hillsdale Academy's gym. The Colts would win the fourth set 25-20 to take the Championship. The Colts celebrated the Title victory, their first since 2013.
Jonesville Comet Football Defeats Reading On the Road for the First Time Since 2013
Both the Jonesville Comet varsity football team and the Reading Ranger varsity football team had winning seasons in 2021, and both schools played in the 2021 MHSAA football playoffs. Before that playoff game, both teams would meet for a battle for lead in the Big 8 conference. On Oct. 1, the Jonesville Comets would travel to Reading (4-1 at the time) in a week 6 battle. The undefeated Comets had not won a game at Reading High School since 2013.
Head coach Frank Keller would lead his Comets into Reading and win a decisive victory over the Rick Bailey-led Rangers. The 34-8 final score would not reflect the tough fought first half battle before Jonesville used the strength of their offensive and defensive lines to wear down the Rangers in the second half.
The game was one of our Game of the Week selections during the 2021 season, and the packed crowds on both sidelines showed how important of a moment it was for both teams to get the victory. The win propelled the Comets to a Big 8 championship and a Crossover Championship.
The game featured some big moments including a Kaden Playford 37 yard touchdown, and a Curtis Knapp end zone grab to seal the victory.
Hillsdale Hornet Football Completes a 17 Point Comeback to Defeat Blissfield
In one of the biggest LCAA matchups for the Hornets this season, the Marc Lemerand-led Hillsdale varsity football team found themselves down by 17 points on the road to Blissfield High School. The Hornets came out of the half facing a 28-11 deficit. A second half rally saw one of the biggest comeback wins of the entire football season in Hillsdale County.
With nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Hillsdale found themselves facing a fourth and four around midfield. Blissfield was up 28-26. In what would prove to be the play of the game, the Hornets would roll out of the punt formation and complete a toe-drag catch on the Hillsdale sidelines to get the first down. With 5:54 to go on the same drive, Hillsdale running back Jordan Barnes would score a touchdown to put the Hornets up 32-28. With 3:52 to go in the game, Hillsdale running back Stephen Petersen would find the end zone from 11 yards out, extending the lead for Hillsdale to 38-28.
The 38-35 victory was celebrated by fans, players, coaches, and family after the game was over. Running back Stephen Petersen led the way for the Hornets with a 220 yard game and four touchdowns.
This article originally appeared on Hillsdale Daily News: Most Memorable Moments of the Year Nominees and Voting Poll